To all the women who have ever said, “I don’t even recognize who I am anymore.”
Life started as an experiment in daring to find yourself, speak for yourself and fight for yourself. You dared to say no to others and yes to yourself, only to find that you would be called selfish as a result. You shared your opinions and were repeatedly challenged about how you thought. You dared to state your desires, only to be told they were crazy or impossible or [fill in the blank]. You dressed the way you wanted, only to discover that it wasn’t sexy enough. You dressed too sexy, only to be called a slut. You stood up for yourself and were told you were acting like a bitch. Gradually, you learned.
The world has taught you well, and now you silence your voice so as not to upset the status quo. You keep your ideas to yourself to avoid the critiques of those around you. You accept the unacceptable in order to avoid the blow up that setting limits seems to invite. You say a thousand yeses to others so you’ll be liked and seen as kind and “helpful.” You go along to get along because—well— because you prefer to get along. You shrink to the bully because you’re too afraid to rise up against the anger. You say no to yourself because there are far too many others who need your yes. You stay in an unhappy relationship so you don’t hurt your partner or your children or go against the church or [fill in the blank]. You laugh a little softer, speak a little quieter, and disagree a little less—all to make sure you stay within “the box” of acceptable. You try not to be too threatening to others in your accomplishments, intelligence, anger, wants, needs or upset; you don’t want to be alone.
And then one day you wake up and don’t even recognize who you are anymore.
The way you dress, what you do, who you see, what you speak and how you act is a carefully choreographed dance of reading others, pleasing others and giving your life over to others. You don’t recognize “you” because you spent your life trying to shed “you” from your very existence. It’s been a slow, insidious process of shutting down, pulling back, pleasing, placating and over-accommodating. You’ve learned well. You’ve mastered the art of being a woman as the world wants you to be.
Challenge: If you feel that you’ve lost yourself along the way, then stop trying to fit into the “box.” Stop pleasing, shrinking and over-accommodating to the world. Slow down and stop buying into all the dangerous messages our world sends to women. Take this one step and allow the real “you” to show up.