Do you ever look back at a picture of yourself and think, I don’t even recognize that woman?
15 years, jeez that has gone by fast, but it also feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in a decade.
Looking at this photo brought up so many memories, and for a moment made me envious of that version of myself. Looking at her and knowing how blissfully happy and carefree she was, having not yet felt the loss, pain and emptiness that will come.
When we’re younger we believe that adulthood is this amazing, glamorous thing you strive towards. A great job, your own home, a steady relationship and, of course, money. What you don’t yet realize are all the things that happen behind the scenes.
Over the past decade I have experienced many losses, some that were heartbreaking and others that left me numb. However no matter how many losses there were, there was 1 that continued to happen, 1 that felt out of my control and I didn’t understand why it kept happening. This loss was the most crippling of all, the loss of my own identity.
I was the girl growing up that would obsess over two things; soccer and boys. Eventually, soccer would also take a back seat to the other.
It started with harmless crushes that any teenage girl would fantasize about. How he would finally notice me, how we would date and then live happily ever after…
As I got older, getting men interested in me would not be a problem. How that interest would progress would be mature. Slowly the goals, friends and passions I once held important, would be deprioritized for his. I wouldn’t make plans with friends until I knew what he was doing that night. Slowly but surely, over time the less of me there was and the more of him there would be. Until one day I didn’t recognize my life at all, and an emptiness began to grow.
Again and again my relationships would go from everything to toxic. This would leave me feeling empty and so alone. WHY was this happening?
It took a lot of time and self discovery to realize that I was allowing this to happen. I was the reason I lost my identity in my relationships. That I was allowing my partners, goals, passions and voice be more important than my own.
Looking back now I do believe that it always started from a place of fear. Fear of not being the cool girl, or afraid to stir the pot. Fear that his interest in me would disappear if I no longer wanted to spend all of my time doing the activities that he liked most. The ultimate fear of being a fraud . Which I know sounds ridiculous now, but in the moment the stories that the mind can come up with are quite powerful. Again and again all eventually leading myself through the pattern that I grew to know for myself.
I am stronger and wiser now. I’ve learned that happiness comes from within, and that you need to love the shit out of yourself first and foremost. You need to make your goals and dreams your main priority, before you hope to have a relationship that’s based on equality.
If this hit home and you can relate I challenge you to reflect and remember something that brings you joy. I know it’s not easy to always make yourself a priority, but it’s essential to living a life that brings you fulfillment. Stop allowing yourself to be in the back seat of your own life. You should be the leading lady, not the best friend. Make time for you, and slowly you will see your life change before your eyes.