My dad had ONE signature phrase that was used countless times on my brothers and myself growing up: "The world is out THERE!" <cue exaggerated arm movement>
"Yeah, yeah", I thought as I continued a pretty consistent, slow pace along a well-worn, formulaic path. I had, or found, blueprints for almost everything in my life, and following them was really easy. A+B=C. Simple math. Logical. My blueprints got me out into the world, physically, which is what I thought was following my dad's advice. I went to college, I moved to a new city, I went on a tv show, I got a great job...Blah blah.
I know that sounds crazy. Those are big-ticket items in someone's life, and opportunities that some people may never be presented with.
But I never LIVED outside my comfort zone. I made it look like I was, but I was emotionally reigned in, and in charge of every decision and emotion that was made.
In 2013, my levy broke. I don't know why. I don't know how. But I instantly knew it could not be put back together. I sat at my desk one day in early January of last year and had two thoughts cross my mind: The first- I would have to make MAJOR changes and MAJOR commitments to have anything change and it was going to be hard, and completely terrifying. The second thought- Things could stay the same. 5, 10, 15, 30 years from now I could be where I am...what would that be like?
It would be like NOT an option.
In that moment, wheels started rolling. I cried off and on for portions of that day and the weeks that followed Because growth is really freaking hard, and being "afraid" is never something I've sought out. When I was a little girl, I needed coaxing for most things. To be an adult woman and never facing fear unprompted, I knew I was facing an uphill battle.
Nothing big happened over the next several months of 2013, but my poles literally flipped. Nothing happened, but everything changed. Now, sitting almost a year later, I'm not "there" yet- that place where you feel you could live forever and never be happier... Maybe "there" isn't even real, because once I got "there", I would know how much was possible and ask for and work for even more. But one key difference is at the forefront of my world:
I am terrified. Every. Single. Day. Literally.
The above is only a slight exaggeration because there have been a handful of days I have not been scared. And on those days, you know what I have been? BORED.
Yes, my friends. I have become a bit of an emotional daredevil. And it's brilliant.
In the past year, I've been let down. I've been heartbroken. I've been alarmingly uncomfortable. I've been vulnerable. I've wondered if I would fit in, or if people would like me, or if I could DO what I was setting out to do, or if I was anything other than just a person who was meant to live in a blueprint.
I wish I could tell you those feelings have dissipated, but they haven't. No. But they've become a norm- a challenge. Every day my inner voice says "'They' probably won't like you", I acknowledge it gently, then tell it to go to hell and push forward. The truth is, "they" might not like me, and it WILL matter to me, and it WILL hurt, but there's nothing I can do about it. When my inner voice chants "You're not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough", I acknowledge it, then think of why it even exists, and remind myself that those are my OWN insecurities, not other peoples' judgment.
Life, I've learned, is not about avoiding the scary situations. For me, it's about SEEKING them, staring them down, and making them tell you the truth. Sometimes the truth is going to be ugly, and hurtful, and awful. But even in those situations, knowing it allows you to move past it. I'd say a good 90% of the time, though, the truth exceeds your expectations, and you find these supporters, opportunities and emotions you didn't even know you were capable of.
2014, my commitment to myself is to continue to allow life to scare the be-jeezus out of me. I want to be lengthened, and deepened by the things and people that come into my life, and next January, I want to sit and tell you all, again, how much has changed.
In this vein, I've got some stuff going on I'll be sharing with you all. Some more big-ticket stuff, that this time, instead of "blueprinting", I'm going all-in. I'm committing. I'm DIVING, headfirst into uncharted waters, not knowing whether or not I'll sink or swim.
-The first, is continuing my body transformation. In 2013, I lost about 60 lbs. Now, I've entered a 12-week contest (although I'd be working my tail off anyway!) that I'm going to share with you all via blog and social media. I'll tell you what I'm eating, how I'm working out, how I'm feeling, and the progress I'm making. There's a weird fascination with how my body changes after being on Biggest Loser, so ok, let's indulge that. If nothing else, I'm sure you all will hold me accountable :)
-The second is taking my deepest of deep emotions, heartaches, and stories into the recording studio to record and release a mini-album (the term EP is too trendy. Don't like it. Mini album is better). I've been sitting with some of these stories for years and years, and I'm ready to share them in EVERY way I can. Expect to see updates about music, youtube videos, mp3 links, and show information all year long. Many of you have never known me as an artist, but at my core, from the beginning, that's what I've been and what I'll always be.
Because I'm all about truth and fear, and all that messy, wonderful craziness, I'll keep doing some introspective posts like this, too.
I'm not out to give advice. How I live my life is not one-size-fits-all, and I know many (most) people that are not at ALL interested in constant change, growth and reinvention. They've found their "couldn't be happier" place, and secretly (well, not so much now), I'm totally jealous of their contentment in having "what is", instead of seeking "what could be". But... if you're not one of those people- if you're like me, and a wanderer, a rebel, addicted to change, aching for depth and love and magic and adventure...then I challenge you to find your fears- the places you won't allow yourself to go because it requires too much strength to even ADDRESS them. I challenge you to find those places, and face them, and confront them, and show them, and yourself, how much stronger you are than you know.
Because once you do, you can never go back. You can never fit back in the blueprint. And oh. my. God. Life becomes so magical....even when you're "not there yet".
I'll be posting soon with updates on body and music, so stay tuned. :)
First of all, a VERY Happy New Year to you all. New Years is one of my favorite times. By the time December 26th rolls around, I've had my dose of holiday stress and I'm ready to move on. Although I strongly believe in continuously making goals and "resetting", there is something special about a universal permission to "start over".
I hope (and know) this year is going to bring all kinds of amazing adventures to my life, and yours. I will be making a concerted effort to share my journey with you, and hope you'll do the same with me. (Stuff is so much more fun when shared!). I'll be doing a LOT of blogging about fitness, crossfit, food, and my continuing journey of wellness. I'll be filling you in on lots of music stuff as I venture into the studio this winter. And of course, I'll be sharing anecdotes, thoughts and weird, introspective stuff with you.
Which leads me to today's blog:
Growing up, I never lacked self confidence. My mom would and does say I would look in the mirror and see Marilyn Monroe staring back at me. Despite being the "chubby" girl, and going through more than my fair share of far-past-awkward stages, I could always find that "pinup in the mirror".
Through (literally) hundreds of pounds gained and lost and gained and lost, I always thought I was a pretty girl. I always thought I was special and capable and smart and destined to do big things.
Here's the kicker: I've also always been insecure.
How is this? Didn't I JUST get done saying how awesome I think I am? Yeah.... kinda. But insecurity, for me, isn't about what I see. It's about wondering what everyone ELSE sees.
Confidence and insecurity can, and I think, often DO, coexist. How often do we, as children, feel GREAT about a report we did, but can't wait to get our grade back to make sure our teacher felt the same way? How many of us as adults feel gorgeous when we get dressed up for a night out, but ultimately gauge whether or not we wear an outfit again based on whether or not we were complimented on it?
More importantly- is insecurity really such a bad thing?
I know this: My insecurity annoys people who are around me a lot. It annoys only them because I feel comfortable enough to TELL them that I'm basing a portion of my confidence on whether or not they approve of something I'm doing, saying, wearing, etc, and let's face it- that's a lot of unfair pressure that they didn't ask for. But other than that, isn't insecurity helpful?
Think about it: Insecurity is our way of acknowledging that (even when we really like ourselves) we're open to improving, and ultimately, know we have to, to stay relevant, and in some cases, survive. And further- isn't being "totally secure" just another way of saying we're "totally ignorant"- Unaffected in choice and circumstance by the opinions of others?
First of all- I challenge you to show me ONE person who truly doesn't give a flying you-know-what what other people think. Doesn't. Exist. Humans, by nature, are communal-tribal- and we look to each other for guidance- guidance that can come in the form of affirmation and compliments, criticism or jest... Not every life lesson is a big sit-down-and-discuss-the-universe moment. In fact, they almost never are.
The days and moments that have shaped me, or instilled something in me, were rarely meant to be substantial. I remember being in 7th grade and a girl I thought was pretty told me I should curl my eyelashes before I put on mascara because I'd look more awake. I have ever since. I remember my 6th grade English teacher's comment on a short story I'd written: "You are a natural writer. I can't wait to read your first novel", which has given me the confidence and vision to continue to write (in all forms). A boy when I was 15 sat and watched a concert with me- particularly uninhibitedly- and inspired me to never temper the freedom to express my appreciation for the arts. The same boy told me that night that I needed to write songs forever because they would "change the world", and to this day, when I wonder whether or not my songs can "make the cut", I think of that. At band camp, a girl I knew for 2 weeks sat in the lounge of the boys' dormitory, saying "hi" to every stranger, and taught me to do the same. By the end of the 2 weeks, we were friends with more people than anyone else there (some of which I still have), and she taught me the most important social skill I've ever learned: No one is going to say no to making a new friend....Conversely, my brothers teased me mercilessly for being high maintenance. It's one of my continuous goals to NOT be. My first boyfriend (when I was 11) told me I wasn't "cool" or "pretty" enough to date, and- despite multiple OPPOSITE experiences and 17 years- I still find myself questioning whether the people I'm around feel like I'm "cool" or "pretty" enough to be hanging out with them.
It goes on. I've had some monumental, hours-long conversations with some of my best friends and perfect strangers. But unequivocally, across-the-board, the most earth-shifting interactions I've ever had with any and all of them come quite unexpectedly. And they're earth shifting because they either solidify something good, or they break something bad. They're "tell-the-truth" moments- ones that you don't see coming, and couldn't if you tried, but that are so meant-to-be that you also couldn't possibly avoid them. They're the moments that make or break your insecurity. And the only reason they're ALLOWED or ABLE to happen is because you allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be open, to be- yes- insecure.
To me, insecurity is not a brokenness. It's an openness. It's about allowing your heart to have doubt that you know yourself and the impact you do or could or will make on the world. It's an openness to be guided because maybe you CAN'T see that you're heading for disaster, and you need to be averted, or you're headed for your ultimate dream life, and you need to be encouraged. It's an openness to be infiltrated by the truth that the world sees you differently than you see yourself.
Because, the world doesn't see me as Marilyn Monroe. Even if I do. the world sees me as Isabeau Miller. And the more you allow yourself to be vulnerable and insecure, the more, in my experience, you find that being yourself is SO much better than being the model of someone else.
I'm not "confident" in spite of my insecurities. I'm confident BECAUSE of them. I'm confident because I really seek out and hear when people tell me good things, and I really work hard on myself when I feel like I'm disappointing someone or not living up to the potential someone sees in me, In a perfect world should those things not matter? Maybe? Maybe not? But I'm not so sure. Because the truth is, we all coexist. Relationships matter. Opinions matter. Perception matters. It doesn't mean those things have to define us, but they certainly pull a weight of their own. If I love being around me, but nobody else does, what's the point?
2013 brought me face to face with a LOT of insecurities, and made me question what the heck I was gonna do about it. Despite all of those insecurities being varied- my weight, sharing my music, looking "stupid" at Crossfit, not being able to make new friends, going out more, not being "relevant", doing the right thing for my son, being a good "fill-in-the-blank", they all led me back to one universal step one: Tell the truth.
So that's what I'm doing, and that's what I think ultimately overcoming "insecurities" is about: Being truthful. Allowing certain things to suck, without it breaking your entire spirit. Allowing peoples' opinions of you to penetrate even the thickest of skins without it knocking you off your course, and maybe even allowing it to build you up. Telling the truth about who you are, and why that is (or maybe isn't) ok, and then doing something about it.
Because ultimately, you have to be able to live with yourself, yes, but you also have to be willing to acknowledge that you "live" with a lot of other people, too, and allowing yourself to be affected by their opinions is not weakness- not at all... It's strength.