Thursday, March 15, 2018

Mistaken identity

I know I’m not alone in this; my teenage years were not easy. I had a complicated relationship with my mother, no relationship with my father, and both led me to search for acceptance and love in the wrong places. Time and distance has given me perspective to how lost I truly was. I looked outside of myself, and my worth was dependent on everyone else's opinion of me. Every time I was told I was too sensitive, poor, selfish, childish, not good enough, or I simply looked around and saw my shortcomings, I absorbed it. And collaboratively, it became my identity for many years.

Even now as I’m able to look at that time almost as if it belongs to someone else, I still find that identity resurfacing at the worst times.

A few months ago, I decided to move forward on my long-time dream of taking on a project house to remodel and sell. After the offer was signed and delivered, I laid awake in bed that night, unable to sleep. I was overtaken with doubt. Doubting myself, my abilities (especially in comparison to others), the timing, the strength of my marriage, the financial risk. When my offer was declined, I was only left with a sense of relief.

Days and weeks later, that night haunted me. I had been prepared for this, my children are thriving, I have trusted help, the housing market is good, my marriage is strong, I am very conservative with money, and I should know better than to hinge my actions on what others might think. My teenage identity resurfaced and all those things I believed about myself during those years came back in the form of major insecurity.

I can now see that prior to writing that offer, I had so many balls in the air. Everything looked great on paper, but I didn’t give myself adequate down time to really let this idea, this particular house, sink in. I needed the kind of restorative quiet that allows me to put together the pieces of the puzzle in my mind. It’s only in that silence I can hear my own voice again in it’s authority. It speaks a different language than the one I knew as a teenager. It doesn’t identify with what I’ve been told I am or what I should be. It reminds me what excites and energizes me, and what I need to be at peace.

I am still learning to find balance in the hustle and bustle of every day life in order to align with my truest self. That alignment requires time, silence, and patience. Within it, there is always an invitation to create the life I want and it is infinitely better and more freeing than living a life of mistaken identity.

I don’t know if or when another project will come my way, but I know for sure that continuing to refine the values held deeply within me is the most important work I can do in this life. I won’t find the answers in a house, in someone else’s opinion or advice, or in a book; it’s within those quiet moments that I will find my greatest guide.

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