I tend to overthink things, as many women do. I have wasted a lot of time worrying about what others think of me. The truth is, for a long time, I have wanted to be liked, really badly. The thought of someone not liking me made me itchy. With such an intense need to be liked, I would often do things to seek approval. As a young adult, particularly in college, I made questionable choices to fit in. Things that didn’t really reflect who I am, things I was not particularly proud of. Thankfully, none of these things were very damaging or dangerous. I will always remember about 6 months after graduating college, a friend of mine gave me a little tough love. She kind of confronted me and said she didn’t know what was up with me but I needed to figure out what we going on. It was around then that I started to really look at who I was and the choices I was making.
I began doing the work – therapy, meditating, journaling, etc. It has been a journey since then, about 10 years. To look at the things you don’t like about yourself is challenging and often very uncomfortable. However, coming back to myself has been worth the discomfort. Letting go of the need for outside approval is a constant work in progress. It requires me to slow down, to listen to myself closely and remember what is important. Becoming a mother has pushed me to continue this work. It came up for me a few months ago when chatting with a longtime best friend.
We were taking a cab downtown and catching up on the way. We were talking about something that had recently happened between a few mutual friends of ours. She said (I am paraphrasing) – ‘it just didn’t really matter that much to me. I realize that since becoming a mom what I focus my energy on has changed a lot. Before, I would have worried and focused so much energy on it…but now, I just don’t really care!’
It’s not like she was being crass or insensitive. She is one of the warmest, most caring people and would never want to diminish someone else’s feelings. She was simply commenting on how much her perspective and priorities had changed since having a baby. It’s not to say that having a baby means you are carefree! Far from it. It’s just that the things you focus your energy on change a lot whether you like it or not. The care of your child becomes the chief priority and there is not much energy for the little, petty things anymore.
When planning this blog post, the one about “making peace with myself,” this conversation really stuck out as something I knew I wanted to include. Motherhood seems to have changed me but at the same time I am more settled with who I am. I felt a shift in self-acceptance in the last year but I couldn’t seem to articulate what had really changed. Then I got a sign…finally, the words I could not seem to articulate.
It’s not about finding myself, it’s about returning home to who I always was. My favorite part of the above is, “an unlearning, an excavation, a remembering who you were before the world got its hands on you.” It makes my heart flutter to read that.
I believe that all of us come into this world as fundamentally good beings. Yes, there are many outside forces that will shape us, both good and bad but these outside influences often cover up a person’s true essence. I realize life is not about figuring out who we are, it is about coming back to the fundamentally good, true person we have always been. I am still working on that but I am sure that becoming a mother is pushing me in the right direction.