It's the end of the year, so inevitably we find ourselves looking back over another year - reflecting on changes and what's to come. I'm one of those (not so obviously) introspective people who likes to take stock of the changes I've gone through. The versions of myself and how much they fit, or don't, with my expectations looking back.
With everything I've been working on, it caught me a little off guard when, at 25, and when again wandering without a map, building this brand, my mother told me - for only the second time - that she was proud of me.
Little old me with my silly blog.
This got me to thinking about how we measure success, and failure for that matter. How we can be critical of ourselves, but inspire others all at once.
It got me to thinking on times when I felt so useless I couldn't imagine being anything worth being proud of.
And that lead me to thinking of other people who may feel how I felt in those times; so I thought I'd share this:
Anyone who knows my mother knows that she's not generous with praise. She's the kind of woman who shows her love in actions, not in words.
I'm the oldest of four children, so the mark was always higher for me. If I did something that the "average" kid couldn't, I wasn't applauded, because my mother always knew when I was resting on my abilities. If I wrote a paper the night before it was due and my professor raved over it, she didn't give me a figurative gold star - she'd straight up call me out to my face.
When I was an angst riddled teenager, I hated her. But now I know she was right in her unwillingness to be dazzled by my ability to tap dance and BS my way over my peers in every arena, because that was NOT tantamount to reaching my potential. I'm not sad about it and no, I don't need a hug. She shaped me into who I am.
When I got my first "big girl" job, she finally said those four little words - "I'm proud of you." More than 20 years I had gone without hearing those words in a string like that. You could have knocked me over with a feather.
The point of all of this is that I was raised - hell, practically indoctrinated - to rise to the occasion. Taught that even when I hit my version of my best, I should still aim higher...
But I still FAIL.
Specifically since becoming a mother. Even more since becoming a wife.
My school papers, my work, even this blog comes with prompts, instructions and people before me who got it RIGHT. If you show me something, I can usually emulate it or even do it better, if I do say so myself.
None among us is a perfect mother.
No one is a perfect wife, fiance, girlfriend or partner.
And being a grown up is a crock of *expletive deleted* not to mention a misnomer at it's best.
I would be a big fat liar if I said I didn't have a complete life crises when I realized how out of my depth I was as a mother and in my relationship.
With life in general at times trying to determine a general direction to throw all of my ambition at.
I had never fallen so flat on my face in my life. I had always excelled in school, in friendships, got into every college I applied to, even got a big fat scholarship to boot, landed every job I ever interviewed for - the world appeared to be mine.
But the thing about the tables, they always turn.
I've hit some of the lowest lows. I banked it all on things that just weren't meant to be or hadn't aligned in the stars just yet. And I found myself crying myself to sleep more times than I can count. There were days where I thought maybe the world would fare a little better without me.
I'm talking the kind of depression that makes you afraid to be alone. And maybe that's why I clung to things that God was clearly trying to pry away from me.
I understand hitting rock bottom. Everyone's version of hell isn't the same, but we've all got our own.
It's easy to feel like you're not measuring up.
It's easy to scroll through your timeline on social media and pick out all of the ways that you fall short in comparison to someone else.
Millenials are burdened with this sort of fish bowl reality that's not real.
Unless you're a lunatic, you rarely post your lows in detail.
The result is that we all freely advertise our successes, our new cars, our bonuses, our purchases, our milestones and the like. We let everyone know when we're loving life, feeling blessed and riding high.
I'm guilty as sin on this.
Prior to writing this I scrolled through my personal posts and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. I'd estimate that 90% of the things I post indicate that my life is wonderful. Objectively, my life looks pretty sweet from the outside. A good job, a decade long relationship, two gorgeous kids, all of my needs met and then some in term of material things - but I know from the inside that it isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
It's alright if you don't have it all together. If you don't have a brand spanking new car or the newest clothes or a high priced purse. You shouldn't covet every seemingly loving relationship because we all have our issues behind closed laptops.
I fail. I fall short. We all do.
Everything that glitters is not gold.
I can honestly say I've had some lows.
When I was trying to make a package of chicken stretch between me and my one year old for a week and crying in the bathroom while he slept at night because, let's face it, I had banked on my relationship and it was falling apart.
When I didn't make enough to pay my rent so I came up with a different excuse every month to avoid telling my landlord my boyfriend left us.
When I had to move back home with my parents and lost everything I had.
It became hard to look at everyone else being happy and seemingly moving forward while I was crumbling.
I was a good girl. I had worked hard. I had dedicated myself to my family, my education, and my career so I couldn't understand the destruction that seemed to be happening in my life. After so much "success" there was a dark point where it seemed like it had all been for nothing.
Thankfully, I got some help. And during that rebuilding process, of my life and my self esteem I adopted a saying - "I am enough, I have enough, I do enough."
To this day when I find myself stressing over the frivolous things we can madden ourselves with, I still stop, place my hand over my heart and say it again. "I am enough, I have enough, I do enough." And it reminds me that I'm alive. That despite what I've been through I'm alive. That nothing I've battled with to this day has taken me out yet, but instead it has made me ever the wiser.
Wise enough to tell you that you too can turn it around.
You may not have it all. You may feel like you have nothing to offer. You may feel like you missed your shot or you never had one at all. You may think your dreams are impossible or that you'll never have what someone else has. You may feel like you've failed.
The good news is we all do. As easy as I apparently can make it look I took a crazy road here. But I wouldn't trade it for anything; nor should you if you're going down a crazy road right now. It can lead you to some amazing places.
Sometimes good things grow where destruction once occurred.
And should you find yourself so distraught and so alone, just find a calm place.
Place your hand over your heart, and remind yourself - You are enough, you have enough, you do enough.
From one failure to another.
I am proud of you.