As a child, I loved watercolor painting. Pressing the wet paintbrush to the paper. Watching as the water bleeds from one part to the next changing, swirling, creating something beautiful. No real talent or effort required, just the water and the page.
Life has similarly created me. Experience has been the wet paintbrush and I have been the canvas. My personality has ebbed and flowed. Unsure of my final desired outcome, I have trusted those around me to guide the paintbrush, to know what is best for me, I have unquestioningly followed their confident lead.
This has resulted in not really knowing who I really am anymore. That’s not to say I have turned into some monster that I don’t recognize, but more that I have grown and developed, made changes without any real conscious effort. I am now to a point where I am not exactly sure where the true me starts and the voices and opinions of everyone else ends.
Luckily, I have chosen lovely people to share my life with. Friends and family have been encouraging and leading me into directions they feel to be best for me. But at some point, I began to ask myself “What do I really want?”. That felt selfish and I was embarrassed to think so unilaterally, to abandon the counsel of my tribe.
Ignoring the voices and opinions of others has always been a real struggle. I am quite susceptible to what others say, believing that their views can somehow be trusted more than my own. Why is this? Am I afraid of rejection or perhaps I do not trust my own judgment?
The same compassion and humility I had extended to those around me, I had forgotten to give myself and I also did not trust would be reciprocated to me. I accepted everyone for who they were even if I did not prefer their choices. But I was afraid to let go, to truly expose my real feelings, thoughts, and opinions for fear of not receiving the same grace from those around me.
This lack of trusting myself is just one of many characteristics that slowly happened over time, little by little until now it is a cornerstone of my being. This is the bleeding from one part to the next. Changing, swirling, creating without paying attention. It’s unnerving to notice how I adapted and accepted feelings of inferiority so widely, weaving layers of doubt and placation in and out of all my relationships.
In this next season of my life, I am on a new journey of introspection. Being more present, still, embracing quiet, and simplifying should help to eliminate the clutter in my mind so that I can hear my own voice. Once I can identify my voice, I can separate want from should and identify who I really am. It will be a long journey of self-discovery, but I am finally ready to wield my own paintbrush.
Can you recognize your voice or are you too confused by the noise all around you? What strategies help you remain grounded, centered, whole?
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