Owning my story: the beginning

You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness.
Brene Brown

Hustling for worthiness, that’s what I’ve done for as long as I can remember. Never good enough, only visible when I got high grades or was “a good girl”. Always trying to be perfect so others would like and accept me. Always trying to stand outside my story, because I was ashamed of it, of myself.

For years now, I’ve been working on myself, trying to learn how to deal with things differently. I’m making progress, but I realize that I still haven’t fully owned my story. I tried to leave out the most important part, love and empathy for myself. Because deep down there I still feel I’m not worthy of love and belonging.
But you can’t truly live when you’re always wondering what someone else will think. Besides, it’s not the example I want to set for my daughter. So, it’s time to own my story.

The concept is quite simple, the execution is slightly more challenging. I’m a perfectionist, because perfectionism is safe. It keeps you in your comfort zone to minimize the chance you screw up and get rejected. Because, what’s not to love when you’re perfect? Except, I’m not perfect. No one is. Imperfection is part of being human. And it’s only when we can accept that, that we can start owning our story.

But people are creatures of habit, especially if it’s safe. Of course, I know perfectionism isn’t healthy. But it’s easy, it’s safe and I’ve done it for so long that it has become my default setting. I will have to reboot my entire system.
But, where to begin? Honestly, no clue. I’ve been thinking of what might help me. The best I could come up with was going back to therapy and creating some new, healthy habits. Not too much and not too long, because I want it to be sustainable, it needs to last for the rest of my life.

Since I’m someone who needs structure, I decided to mark it on my calendar. It’s not so much that it needs to be done right that second, but this way I get a reminder. For me that increases the chances of actually doing it. I decided to start with two new habits and set a timer for a small amount of time every week day. This time is mandatory, if I decide to do more, that’s fine. I just want to create a habit by doing it daily.

The first thing on my list is to meditate to start my day. I will set the timer for 10 minutes. This forces me to take some time to relax. Sometimes it comes easy and I continue after the mandatory time. Other times, those 10 minutes seem to last forever. And that’s fine, just as long as I do it.

The second thing is to take time to write every day for at least half an hour. If it’s not on my calendar, I will only do it when I feel like I have inspiration. If I ever want to become a writer, I will have to start making it a habit and above all, practicing. It’s my first step in getting out of my comfort zone. I’m terrified that I will never be read, that I will never make it to the point that I write an actual book. But if I ever want to get there, I will need to take risks. Ironically, I’m trying to teach my daughter that failure isn’t the end, but a starting point. It’s a start from where you can begin to learn and grow. Practice what you preach.

Not a daily habit, but something I’m trying to be mindful about, is what I tell myself. When I notice that I’m having negative thoughts about myself, I will replace it with more helpful thoughts. The other day I met some people and when leaving most of them were talking to one another. I just felt so socially awkward that I just left silently. At that moment, I beat myself up for being like that. When I noticed that, I acknowledged my feeling of having wanted to do something differently, but I also let myself know I am ok. I went there to meet those people in the first place. I could have just not gone there. So, instead of focusing on the thing that I wish I had done differently, I focused on the big thing that I had done.
Like Brene Brown says: “If we own the story, then we can write the ending”.

September: National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Imagine, you have been walking all day and somewhere along the way, you got lost. You’ve been walking around for hours and the day is coming to an end. It’s getting darker and darker, you can hardly see where you put your feet. You need to find shelter soon. Then, suddenly your foot slides away and you tumble down. A long way down. Like Alice into the rabbit hole, except, there’s no wonderland, just darkness.
There you are on the bottom of a pit, it’s ink black and freezing cold. You try to keep calm and carefully explore the place. Panic starts to grow when you realize the only way out is to climb up and the walls are almost smooth. You have no gear, just your bare hands and feet. You scream, you yell, but no one hears you. But you don’t give up easily and so you start to climb. It’s hard, almost nowhere to hold onto and you slip and fall. You try again in another place. A little higher this time, but your foot slips again and you’re back down. Desperately you try over and over and over again. You keep on trying, days go by, weeks, maybe more. No matter how high you get, you can’t see the slightest ray of light. The walls are to high and to smooth for you to climb back up. You give it your all, but you’re tired, so tired… You’ve used all your supplies. Finally, you reach the point where you just don’t have anything left, no food, no energy, no feelings, nothing. All you want to do is just sleep and for this to be over.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. I know there are a lot of people who consider suicide to be selfish. And I can understand that when you’ve never been in a severe depression. Someone may seem to have it all; a good job, a loving family, a lot of friends. Why do that? Why leave everything behind when you have so much to live for? The thing is, when you’re down in that pit, you can’t see that anymore. There’s nothing but darkness and no matter how hard you try to get out of there, you can’t get high enough to see some light.

Having gone through a severe depression myself, I can understand that someone may come at a point in their life that life is just darker than you ever thought darkness could be. When you feel like you are nothing but a burden for the people around you. I’m very grateful I never reached the point that taking my life seemed like my only option, but I’ve seen enough darkness not to judge someone who does.

The only way to help people overcome depression and prevent possible suicide, is to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness so people won’t feel ashamed to seek help.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people that don’t take depression seriously. Like kickboxer Andrew Tate (honestly, I had never heard of the man before, but apparently he is some kind of famous) tweeted that: “depression isn’t real” and those people are just “too lazy” to change their lives. It’s so sad when someone who is famous throws his unfounded opinion on a topic he clearly knows nothing about on social media. This reinforces the stigma surrounding mental illness and only prevents people from seeking the help they so desperately need. It’s good to see that other (really!) famous people like J.K. Rowling take time to retort.

I’m not asking anyone to understand suicide, just to think (hard) before you judge a person. You don’t know what someone has been through. It’s sad enough that someone decides to take their own life. Instead, let’s open up about mental illness and create a safe environment for people to seek help.
On this site you can learn more about mental illness and find resources if you’re interested.