For the last few weeks, I have been getting ready for my trip to Rome. I am going away with one of my oldest and dearest friends. She and I have been through a lot over the two decades we have known each other, and I am so looking forward to getting to spend time catching up. As well, of course, as checking out all that the Italian city has to offer (read pasta, coffee, gelato, pizza!)
On the run up to my Roman Holiday I can’t help noticing that I feel really good. I am in a good place with my health. I feel reasonably happy with my body and self-image. I haven’t had the usual nightmare in work, trying to get everything done before heading off. I don’t even feel under as much financial pressure as I normally would before a trip. In short, all is well. In fact, I don’t think I have ever felt so good going away before. Even my usual anxiety has not reared its ugly head. At least not so far!
All this feeling good, has lead to some very strange happenings. I am finding myself doing things I never would have thought of doing in the past. Small, seemingly insignificant things really. Like buying dresses, shorter than I usually would. Or daring to try red lipstick. Even just baring my legs on hot, summer days, would have been something I would have balked at previously.
The weird thing is, the more stuff I do, which is totally unlike me, the more like myself I feel. It’s almost like the red lipstick wearing woman was stuck inside me, and has been waiting 35 years to finally make an appearance. I feel as though I am beginning to find myself.
I wonder how much of this is a natural part of life. As we come of age, do we unfold and stretch and become a truer version of ourselves? Or could it be that as I have grown in confidence, I have gained the courage to try all the things I wanted to, but was afraid of? Or maybe it is simply that I stopped giving a f$ck what other people think! I walk down the street in a bright yellow rain coat. I have no problem singing out loud in work or in spin class. If I get funny looks, I just shoot them back a smile, and think what a shame it is that they have no magic left.
Being ambivalent about what other people think is the most liberating thing I have experienced. Sure, I still care what my family and friends think of me, and certainly don’t go out of my way to upset anyone. However, I no longer fall into the category of chronic people pleaser. I do things now because I want to, or because they make me feel good, not because it is what is expected of me.
If you haven’t reached this point in your own life yet, don’t worry, it will happen sooner or later. At some stage, you will reach a point where you have had enough of trying to make everyone happy, at the expense of your own joy. When this happens, it will feel like your life has begun in earnest. You will start discovering what it is that you like. You will gain a new understanding of yourself. And best of all, your mind will be freed of all the agonizing, paralysing overthinking, which comes from trying to do the “right thing” all the time.
I spent a lot of time as a girl feeling like the ugly duckling. I was the typical teenager with acne and braces. Painfully self-conscious and awkward. All my pals were beautiful and had boyfriends and I always felt inadequate. Even into adulthood, these feelings stayed with me. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. Never had quite the right outfit, or said quite the right thing. I was always a little lost.
I don’t feel like that anymore. I am going to be spending four days in a beautiful city, with one of the most gorgeous women I know, and I can honestly tell you, for the first time, I feel like I am enough. I am like a kid experiencing the world for the first time. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but I am very excited to find out.
As I was thinking about writing this post, the words of an Avicii song have been playing in my mind. “All this time I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost.” I wonder now if anyone ever feels themselves truly found? I guess I will soon find out. Be well xxx