I used to think that my biggest fear was heights. Or, more specifically, falling from heights. I’ve never liked climbing trees, diving, or going up a ladder even to get down a slide. The see-saw was about as daring as I got on the playground as a child.
As an adult, I wanted to look my fear in the face and show it I was stronger. So I took a rock climbing class at an indoor gym. I could get up that wall, no problem. But, when it was time to go down I found I had trouble letting go of the wall.
It turns out my fear isn’t really about heights, it about having my feet off of the ground. And letting go. That is why I’m not a bike rider and I still get scared every time I do a box jump at the gym. I don’t like to have both feet off the ground at the same time. It kind of terrifies me.
While I have no interest in diving or riding a bike, I do want to get better at box jumps and other things at the gym that require my feet leave the ground. And I get tired of feeling afraid all the time. Who wants to be a chicken or a scardy cat? Not me, that’s for sure.
I want to be brave, strong, tough, and adventurous. And not just in my imagination. So, when my friend invited me to go Zip-lining I said yes without hesitation.
And I didn’t think twice about my decision until I was strapped into a harness and standing on the platform in front of the zip line and the giant drop to the ground.
Being close to the edge of the platform made my legs shaky and I couldn’t stop picturing myself in a heap of broken bones on the ground. It would be just like me to trip over my own shoelace four stories up in the air.
I thought about backing out and I even said something out loud about wanting to change my mind and walk back down to the ground. But my friend said, no, I couldn’t give up. And the “Flight Captain” (what they call the zip-line leaders) told me it was safe and fun and that I could do it.
There was a line of people waiting behind me, including my friend. I didn’t want to be the one who chickened out. So I sat back and took my feet off the ground. I took off on my own across the line.
And it was really fun!
I even looked down and I wasn’t scared of falling.
I wasn’t scared at all, until it came time to take my hand off the trolley and brake. I was afraid of stopping too soon and being stuck out on the line and of not braking and crashing in to the pole all at the same time.
The first time I took my hand off, it was scary. And I grabbed too hard on the line so I jerked around a bit while braking. But the next time it was easier and not so scary.
My friend had trouble braking twice, so she just curled herself into a ball and let the Flight Captain catch her on the podium. I knew there was a back-up plan, first hand.
Each line, I got a little less scared and it became a little more fun. It was actually very freeing to fly over the tops of trees. Like a cross between a bird and a monkey. Or maybe one of those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, but without the ugly vest and hat.
When we were down to our last two lines we ended up on the same platform as a group taking off on their first line. I saw a woman hooked up, but terrified to let go and fly. It was like getting a glimpse into how I had felt the first time.
Since I knew how good it felt to let go and do it, I joined everyone else in cheering her on and giving her advice. But, after ten minutes of her fear and hesitation, I realized she wasn’t going to do it no matter how long she stood there.
And I felt even more proud of myself for just sitting back and taking my feet off the ground. Those last two lines were probably my favorite because I wasn’t afraid at all. I didn’t have to double check that I was hooked in or ask about the signal for braking one more time.
I just sat back and enjoyed the flight.
When we were done the Flight Captain, Al, told me he was proud of me. And the best part was, I agreed with him. I was proud of me, too.
Really, I think it was better that I started out scared. I probably got more out if than the other people on my “flight”. Sure, then had a good time. But, I faced a fear, found my strength, and had fun along the way.
The truth is, we don’t have to be unfraid or fearless. We just have to do it anyway, in spite of the fear.
What are you most afraid of? What have you done to face your fears? Do you think we can ever get over our fears completely, or do we just have to keep facing them in different ways?
On a side note: If you are in the Raleigh area, you should check out Kersey Valley Zip Line. Especially if you are afraid.
When I started working out again a few months ago, I also “followed” a facebook page called Women of CrossFit = Strong. It is full of motivation and inspiration in the form of pictures, personal stories, and quotes. It’s that extra little positive reminder I need everyday. I love it.
But the other day I saw a post on there that didn’t sit right with me. A young woman was thinking of quitting CrossFit because guys found her to be intimidating and too strong.
The advice everyone gave her was to keep working out and try dating guys who do CrossFit. I’m glad they told her to keep up the workout and pointed out the issue was the guys, not her. But I think something big was just glossed over.
We shouldn’t have to change who we are to fit in with someone else.
I wanted to tell her that she shouldn’t stop working out if she loves it. Guys who are intimidated by strong women are not the kind of guys any of us should want to date. They wouldn’t qualify as men, under my definition. I wanted to tell her that she didn’t have to just date guys who do CrossFit, but that any man of value would like her as she is.
If we change who we are to please other people, we will end up resenting them in the end. And we’ll probably go back to doing what we loved in the first place.
I didn’t type in my comments because there were already thousands of people telling her not to quit. But I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said.
I remember changing to please guys when I was younger, like most of us probably did. Now, I won’t even think once about it. If a guy doesn’t like who I am, then he’s not a guy I care about. I find it easy to keep on moving.
But men aren’t the only ones we change for. And then it hit me.
The person who I need to watch for the most is myself.
I can be strong when it comes to friends and men, but get me in a room with myself and I crumble.
I have certain, often silly, ideas about what I am supposed to look like, act like, and be like. When I started taking myself seriously as a writer I thought I had to have an image to match. I stopped bleaching my hair because blonds aren’t taken seriously. I had to stop being fun and start being smart. Obviously, that meant going brunette.
Before that, change had kind of been my thing. I love changing my hair, my make-up, my style. People who’ve known me for a long time have seen me with every hair color and length imaginable. And they have no idea what my natural hair color is. Because the real me doesn’t care.
I have been wanting to get back to me for while. I’m tired of having the same hair, the same look. This isn’t me and something inside is fighting back. But I keep telling myself that I have to fit the look of a serious writer. I’m forcing myself to change who I am to fit who I think I should be.
I am so much worse than any man could ever be.
I wonder if, to some extent, we all do this. We get an idea in our heads of who we are supposed to be. Then we try and fit that mold, no matter how tight and suffocating it is. No matter how much we don’t fit or how many parts of ourselves we have to chop off to cram ourselves inside.
There is no one else telling us we have to change. We are doing it to ourselves.
Today I’m deciding: No More!
I can be the serious, smart writer who changes her hair color like an accessory and has fun with bold make-up. I can wear the big earrings and the high heels. I can be me. And I can still fit into any role I choose.
Now I can’t wait to tell my hair dresser the good news! And I can’t wait to try out all the styles I’ve been putting off while I’ve been trying to fit this serious writer role.
Do you ever pressure yourself to make changes you don’t really want? What have you ever done to fit a certain role? Do you think we can all be taken seriously, just as we are?
We all have dreams and goals we are working on. That big thing we want desperately, and once we get it everything will be perfect.
I remember when I felt that way about getting skinny. I had a very distorted self image and saw myself as fat when I really wasn’t. And I thought that once I got myself down to a size 4, everything would be great. I’d be happy and loved and perfect.
Luckily, I didn’t have to lose weight. I just had to lose the messed-up picture of myself I carried in my head. And that did make me pretty happy. But it didn’t change my entire world or take away all my doubts and fears. There were no cannons, no rainbows, and no triumphant background music to signal my happy ending.
I just went on being me.
And that was the scary part. I had to go after what I wanted. I was responsible for my life. I couldn’t blame anything on my “fat” body anymore. I had to realize that life wasn’t perfect for anyone, no matter what pants size they wore.
Now, all these years later, I feel like I’m back in the same place. On the other side of the country and in a body I appreciate, but the surroundings look familiar.
I’ve been looking at MFA programs for years. This year I took the plunge and applied. And I didn’t tell very many people. Really, just the two people I needed references from and my step-mom, because I tell her everything. I didn’t want people to know I’d applied so I wouldn’t have to tell them if I failed to get in.
I spent the days imagining what it would be like to get in. I day dreamed about reading the email and how happy I would be. I would jump up and down and call everyone I knew. It would put me on the road to the rest of my dreams coming true. It would change my life.
It wasn’t an email. It was a phone call. A personal phone call from someone on the admissions committee who’d actually read my writing sample. And liked it. I was so excited I talked too fast and gushed into the phone. I told him I’d be signing that Intent form because Antioch was my first choice. The only program I really wanted, honestly.
I got off the phone happy and excited. Then I sat down on the couch and it hit me.
The fear. The doubt.
I got in, so now what? What if I wasn’t good enough when I got there? What if everyone was a better writer than me? How was going to afford it, even with financial aid?
It felt like someone was sitting on my chest, squeezing my lungs. The walls seemed closer, my apartment smaller. A mini panic attack. What the hell had I gotten myself into?
It seems like each time we take that big step, put ourselves out there, and reach that goal, the fear comes back. Like our journey isn’t a flat path, but a spiral staircase with those same issues waiting for us to deal with again around the next turn. But, each time we break through and make it to the next turn, the fear and doubt is a little smaller. And easier to recognize.
So I just sat there and let it wash over me. And then I answered it back. I am good enough and everything will be fine. It’s OK if it’s scary. Everything worth doing is. I guess we just have to live with the fear and do it anyway.
Yes, getting what we want can be scary. But in the end, it is worth facing those fears. So I’m going to Antioch and I’m getting my MFA. I’m sure on that first day of the first residency I’ll be terrified. I’ll sit by myself and I’ll wonder if anyone is going to talk to me. I’ll think that everyone there is better than me and deserves to be there more. But, I’ll push through that. And the second day, I’ll feel much stronger. Eventually, I’ll feel like I belong. The fear will move on to wait for me at the next turn in the staircase, a little smaller.
I don’t think the fear and doubt ever goes away completely. But we get stronger each time we face it and push through it. Maybe that’s the whole point. Things are scary, but so what? We are strong enough to face the fear.
Do you feel scared when you accomplish a big goal? How do you deal with your fears and doubts?
At a meeting last week an expert told a group of us that competition was one of the best ways to motivate people. If you look around our culture, I guess it must be true. Shows like Survivor and The Apprentice are about beating everyone else out for the one winning slot.
Even the Kardashians and all those Wives shows are about competition. Competition for who can get the most air time and who can be the biggest drama queen.
So I was happy when my BFF spoke up and said that competition never worked for her. The best motivator, she said, was working with a friend. Co-operation, team work, making whatever it is fun.
That got me thinking about working out. Since I joined a CrossFit gym in my new city, I’ve been working out regularly. I don’t ever have to drag myself to the gym and I’m not forcing myself to work out.
I actually look forward to working out. Because I want to see if I can push myself farther and harder than the day before. I want to find out if I can lift more weight, do more reps, or shave some time off my total.
I am only in competition with myself. And that drives me to work harder every time.
If I were competing with everyone else, I’d stop as soon as someone finished before me. I’d see that the race was over and I might as well pack up and go home. And it would be even harder to compete the next time.
But because I’m not competing against anyone else in the gym, we are all on the same team. When someone finishes a workout, they encourage everyone else to keep going. Sure, it is not my goal to always be the last one to finish a workout. But, when I am the last one, everyone else is literally standing there, cheering me on.
The same is true of writing, teaching, shopping, dancing, and I’ll bet even accounting. We don’t have to be better than everyone else who does a similar thing. We have to be the best that we can, and try to get better at it each day.
It really is true what they say. There is always going to be someone faster or taller, smarter or prettier. If we go around competing with everyone, we will end up the loser some of the time.
But if we stop seeing everyone as our competition and realize that we are only competing to be our best selves, we have a world full of allies and team mates.
I don’t know about you, but I like the sound of the world cheering me on.
Are you motivated by competition with others? Or do you compete with yourself? What motives you to work hard? How do you feel about competition?
Thankfully my cell phone still worked, so I called AT&T to figure out what was going on.
They acted like they had no idea. And they definitely didn’t waste any time with apologies. Basically, they said it was an outage and the engineers were working on it. “Try your TV again in a few hours.” That was it.
Well, the outage went on for three days. I called once a day to try and get some information. But it was always the same thing.
The engineers were working on it.
Not a single “I’m sorry this is happening.” No empathy at all.
I realize that it is just Internet and TV, but I felt cut off from the world. I couldn’t connect with my friends and family on facebook. I couldn’t check my bank statements or pay my bills. And I couldn’t relax to an episode of House Hunters after a long day at work and a tough workout.
It may not have been a big deal in the scheme of things, but I deserved an apology. And a tiny bit of empathy would have been enough to make me shrug my shoulders and open a book while I waited.
But AT&T’s indifference made me angry. It just took me awhile to figure out why.
Then I remembered the time back in college when my car was broken into. They took all my cd’s and my gym bag. Sure it was full of stinky clothes, but it also had the comb that my biological father used to comb my hair when I was a little girl. It was one of the few memories I have of him. And it was taken.
So, I did what most college kids do. I called my mother. I cried into the phone about the bag and the comb and how upset I was.
And my mother said, “That’s why I never leave anything important in the car.”
That just made me more upset. Luckily, I knew what to do. I got off the phone with my mother and called my Step-mom.
I told her my sob story about the gym bag and she said, “Oh, poor honey.”
That was all I needed to feel better. I could handle the lesson later, but I needed the empathy and the validation first.
I needed to know that my feelings mattered.
Dealing with AT&T was the same thing as talking to my mother when I was upset. It was as if my feelings, my inconvenience, weren’t important. I was just a complainer they wanted to get off the phone. When all I really needed was a “Poor Honey” to be OK.
We are told as children to treat others they way we want to be treated, but sometimes as adults we forget. We jump right into the purpose or the lesson or get right down to business.
When what we need to do is see the person standing before us, not just the problem.
If we want people to use our services, then we need to treat them as people. We need to validate their feelings and try to find a little empathy. You hear that, AT&T?
If we want people to be our friends, we need to be the friend we want for ourselves. We need to think back to Kindergarten and treat them the way we want to be treated.
And the truth is, all people deserve to be treated that way. Even the strangers we pass on the sidewalk and the waitress who brings us our check. We need to remember to see them as people. And treat them how we’d want to be treated, if we were in their shoes.
Have you ever been treated like a number by a company? How did it make you feel? Have you had any reminders lately to use the golden rule?
I went shopping with my BFF recently because she needed a new pair of boots and an excuse to get out of the house. You know that feeling after too many days inside, when you just have to do something.
So we went to one of my favorite places, DSW. I happen to love shoes, and I hold a special place in my heart for boots. I love tall boots, short boots, ankle booties, and even riding boots, it turns out. The only thing I don’t like are Uggs, because they are actually slippers and shouldn’t be worn out of the house, and rain boots- because that would mean there is rain. I don’t like rain.
Shopping is fun and something I’m actually good at. I am the personal shopper/stylist to my parents, and even my little brother will now ask my advice on clothing. I love helping people find things that look good on them and make them feel good.
But my bestie had no idea what she wanted. Boots. That’s all she knew.
Me, I know what I like. It’s all about the heels and toes for me. Boots need to have some sort of heel, even if it’s just a slight wedge. And the toes can’t be too round or too square. I guess I’m a little Goldilocks about it.
We walked up and down the aisles, picking out boots she liked and boots I thought would look good on her. She wanted something knee-high, but kept complaining that they were too saggy at the ankle. She thought maybe the leather needed to be thicker to stand up straight all the way up her leg.
That’s just not the way our bodies work. Knee high boots have to at least crease at the ankle. It’s kind of what allows us to walk in the them. Our ankles do have to bend.
She was about to give up on knee high boots and go back to the mid-calf kind she is comfortable with when I made her try on one more pair. I thought, maybe, a buckle at the ankle could distract the eye from the slouching leather.
And I was right. She loved them.
She learned a valuable lesson that day. She likes knee-high boots with some sort of detail at the ankle. That’s what makes the difference for her.
We left the store and went on with our shopping, but that experience made me think.
Maybe figuring out the one important thing we like can help us make all kinds of decisions. It could change the way we look at a lot of things.
So, I set off to try it out.
I had been wanting to read short stories for awhile, but never got into them the way I did with novels. But, I was determined to keep trying.
I bought a couple of those “Best Short Stories of the year” books and started reading. Once I gave myself permission to skip the stories I wasn’t into, I was able to figure out what I liked and didn’t like in a short story.
It turns out my taste in stories in similar to my taste in life: I like contemporary, urban stories that deal with relationships. Country stories, historical stories, or the “man versus nature” thing just don’t do it for me.
Since I discovered that, I’ve been reading more short stories. And enjoying them.
And since I’ve discovered the key to happiness, I’ve been using it in more areas of my life like my job, healthy eating, and exercise.
Once we know our deal-breakers and deal-makers we can find our way to happiness in most of everything that we do.
And we deserve to be happy. Even with something as simple as the boots on our feet.
What are the keys to your happiness? Do you know what you like in most of the important areas of your life? Most of us know our deal-breakers, but do you know what your deal-makers are? How do you figure out what makes you happy?
On my road trip out here to Raleigh I had a small drama involving a rock and my windshield. But I got here and took care of it. Or so I thought.
Until it rained a few days ago. When it rains here, it really rains. It’s not the week long drizzle of the Pacific Northwest. It’s hard and fast and goes at kind of a sideways angle. You don’t get out an umbrella and deal with it. You get inside.
But my car didn’t have that choice. And I had a leak in my new windshield.
So I set out to doing all the things you are supposed to do. I called the company that had put in my windshield. They apologized profusely and sent out a technician to fix it that same day.
Before he left he passed along the boss’s number and told me he would take care of the wet carpet.
And that’s where everything started to fall apart.
I called the boss and he told me he would find a detailing place I could take my car. He said he’d call me.
So I sat waiting by the phone.
I put my life on hold. I didn’t make plans after work. I even kept my phone in my pocket at the gym. So unlike me.
But I wanted the easy answer. I wanted them to tell me where to take it. I wanted them to make the appointment and take care of the details.
I wanted the perfect answer dropped in my lap. No work on my part. They owed me that.
After three days of nothing I called him back. He was sorry, he’d gotten busy over the holiday. He wasn’t in his office, but he’d call when he was and give me the information.
That time I didn’t hold my breath. But I did keep my phone out and the ringer on high.
He didn’t call.
The next morning I went out to my car to go to work and there was a layer of ice on the inside of my windshield. I blasted the heat and as it started to thaw it dripped down on my arms. On top of that, my car was starting to smell like mildew.
I got angry. My car isn’t some old piece of junk. I still have a car payment every month. The thought that I was paying for my car and it felt like a broken, old, smelly turd almost brought me to tears.
So I got back on the phone and called the corporate office of the company.
They apologized and told me “That’s not how we do business.” The woman I spoke with told me the local manager was going to call me with a solution in 15 minutes and she was going to call back in an hour to make sure it happened.
The local guy did call. He’d found a place I could take it and when that place called him back, he’d get right in touch with me.
And the woman from headquarters who’d been so apologetic? Yeah, she never called back. I guess that is how they do business.
I was just glad I was going to get to take my car in to be fixed before it turned into a steaming cesspool of mold and bacteria. So I waited by the phone. Again.
When I was sitting there with the phone inches away, checking the screen every few minutes, I was taken back to high school and college. The crappy times of dating when I’d sit and wait for the guy to call. Literally.
I didn’t like how it felt back then. And I really didn’t like how it felt now. I’d come too far to wait around for anyone to call.
I decided it was time to take control.
I made a plan. First thing in the morning I’d do a google search myself and find a place to take my car.
And that’s exactly what I did.
Yes, it took a little bit of calling. And yes, the first few places I called were booked for the next few days. So I kept calling. Eventually, I found a place that said they would get me in. I had to drive to a suburb 30 minutes away from my house, but it was so worth it.
Driving out to the car wash, I felt different. Better. I didn’t have to sit and wait for someone else to solve my problem for me. I could take care of it. And I had.
My experience at the Carolina Auto Spa was the exact opposite of my experience with the windshield company. They were kind and helpful, and they did what they said they were going to do.
Yes, it took time. I sat in the lobby for three hours, reading, while they worked on my car. But they fixed it. And they even took care of the steps to get the windshield company to pay for the service.
The funny thing is, the local manager still hasn’t called me back. So, if I hadn’t decided to take control and solve it on my own, I’d still be waiting by the phone and driving a stinky car to work.
It might seem easier to have someone else take care of it. But the truth is, we are capable. We can do it ourselves. And we might just do a better job of it.
Do you ever wait for someone else to solve things for you? Or do you take charge and take care of it yourself?
I’ve been called a snob as long as I can remember. Judgemental, too. I can admit that there are certain things I am snobby about.
Like coffee. I like strong, dark, rich coffee. When I’m shopping, I look for the darkest roast. And I usually get Peets, Seattle’s Best, or Starbucks. Yes, it costs more than Dunkin Donuts or Boyd’s, but I don’t see the point in drinking cheaper stuff that I don’t like.
I’ve learned from going to conferences that the coffee they serve for free is usually weak. If I can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee, it’s not strong enough for me. And that powdered creamer they have to go with it? I just can’t bring myself to drink it. So now I go to Starbucks on the way to the conference and bring my own latte.
Yes, I am a snob.
I know there are other things I feel the same way about, like food, clothes, and friends. I just don’t see the point in eating, wearing, or spending time with someone I don’t like. I call it having standards.
But I got used to people calling me snobby when I turned my nose up to mayonnaise.
Then a few weeks ago I went out for a girls night. We started out at a nice restaurant. While we were passing around the vodka soaked gummy bears (yum!) the waiter came to take our drink orders.
I’m not exactly the worlds most accomplished drinker, so I need a cocktail menu to decide what I want. I was still trying to figure out what all the fancy liquors were when my friend ordered her drink, a Bacardi and Coke.
I was pretty sure that Bacardi was rum, but I had no idea why she ordered that way. To me it would be a rum and Coke or a Cuba Libre. So I asked her why she’d ordered what she did.
She said, “Because I like Bacardi.” So simple, and yet it explained it all.
She can taste the difference between Bacardi and other rum the way I can taste the difference between Italian and French Roast coffee. Me, you could serve alcohol from the bottom shelf with just the word “Rum” or “Vodka” across the label and I wouldn’t know the difference.
But it makes a difference to my friend.
The thing I realized was that she didn’t say she ordered Bacardi because it was the best or because it was a good brand. She ordered it because she liked it. And she didn’t put me down for ordering plain vodka with my cranberry juice.
Because it isn’t really being snobby. It’s knowing what you like.
It’s a good thing to know what we like and what we want. It helps us prioritize. It helps us not to settle for less.
I know what I like and it’s OK for me to have it. I don’t have to feel bad or be called names because I’m not going to settle for something I don’t want.
If that makes me snobby, then I’m fine with being a snob.
Have you ever been called a snob? Do people ever look down on your choices or wonder why you won’t settle? Do you ever feel pressure from people to accept something you don’t like?
I’ve always been a sharer. Open book, wear my heart on my sleeve, and all that. Especially when I’m excited about something. If I discover a new project or goal, I want to tell people about it.
I know that not everyone is going to support our dreams or even think they are a good idea. There have been many times that people have rolled their eyes or told me that I was very brave. And we all know that “brave” is code for crazy.
Over the years and the many reincarnations of my dreams, I’ve learned to shrug off the comments of those well-meaning strangers. It took me awhile, but I was finally able to see that their doubts were actually about them, not me.
But I figured that my dreams were safe with my friends.
Unfortunately, that is not always true.
Since moving to Raleigh I’ve been redefining and expanding what I want from my writing career. I am so excited about all the new ideas going through my mind that of course I want to share.
But the three-hour time difference between the coasts now means I can’t call anyone back home without checking the clock and usually planning it out first. Too many days of not sharing my new dreams took me to the point where I thought I was going to burst.
So I did.
I told a friend all the new writer dreams that this new city has awakened in me.
And she told me I was ridiculous. It was too far fetched and no one besides J.K. Rowling can make a living off of writing.
I was expecting a happy reaction, even if not supportive. I wasn’t really prepared for all the negativity and I let it set me back.
I began to worry that maybe my dreams were too big. That maybe I should I settle for safe dreams and goals that everyone would find reasonable.
Thankfully, I found a time to call home and talk to my step-mom. The first thing she said when I told her about all my ideas was, “How exciting.” That was exactly what I needed to hear.
Just those two words brought me back to the place where I feel strong and I know that anything is possible. I was able to remember that even good friends have a hard time separating themselves from our dreams and ideas.
Our big dreams aren’t safe with everyone. Just because someone loves us doesn’t mean that they are capable of putting themselves aside and thinking about our dreams as our own. They might not be able to see our point of view, or they could think they are helping protect us from getting hurt.
It will be better, easier in the long run if we figure out who our dreams are safe with before we share. And no matter how excited we are, we should think before we go declaring our goals from the rooftop.
The words of strangers can be shaken off easily. But the words of someone we love can get under our skin and infect our self-confidence. Their doubts can become ours. They can kill our dreams.
We need to love ourselves and our dreams enough to keep them safe.
Are you careful about who you share your goals with? Do friends and family ever try to talk you out of your dreams? How do you keep your dreams safe?
I love decorating. It’s sort of like reinventing yourself. Instead of a new haircut and color, it’s a new sofa or bed spread that changes the way you feel about your home.
Moving sucks. Packing, loading, unloading, and then unpacking. Not to mention all the clean up. But, decorating a new place can make up for all the hard work.
I’ve changed styles and redecorated with every apartment I’ve lived in. But it wasn’t until this move that I finally took the time to figure out what I like.
In the past it had been more about what fit the theme. I grew up in old, classic houses. So, when I lived in that old apartment from the 20’s I got everything from Goodwill or antique stores. It was the style I’d known my whole life. I remember spending entire weekends shopping garage sales and fixing up thrift store finds in my parents garage.
But then I bought a condo and I realized that antique was my mother’s style, not mine. That’s why I could never complete the look and be happy with it. There was always something missing. Me.
My condo was new and upscale, so I decorated it accordingly. I scoured HGTV.com for inspiration and went to all the furniture stores in my new neighborhood: fancy, discount, and chain stores alike. Everyone who came to visit loved my décor. But a year into living there I realized, again, that I didn’t like it that much. It was too beige, too contemporary, too safe. The only room that was really me what my writing room. Bright orange walls, black and white damask wallpaper, and a silver ceiling. That was all me.
So when I moved across the country, I took the chance to start over. I sold all that furniture that I just didn’t love and decided to decorate for me.
Furniture shopping by myself was easy. I could just pick out what I liked and not worry about what anyone else would say. A white lacquer coffee table isn’t everybody’s style, but I fell in love at first sight. It turns out I like bright colors, textures, shiny things, and a little bit of that old Hollywood style glamour.
In the past I’ve always tried to tame my style, make it more practical. But when I was at home I never felt totally comfortable. Like I was living in someone else’s house, always waiting for them to come home and kick me out.
Now when I look around my little apartment, all I see is me.
No, it’s not all decorated yet. But every piece I have is something I love. And I can spend time shopping for what I want, what I like, without worrying about anyone else’s opinion.
And the funny thing is, when we are true to ourselves other people appreciate it.
My friend and her mom came to see my place and they only had good things to say. It looks like me. It’s fun. They see the design aesthetic I was going for. My friend’s mom even said I have the perfect coffee table for playing dominoes.
When we just accept who we are and quit trying to fit in or be someone we think we should be, things are so much easier. And we are so much happier, being ourselves.
Do you ever try to change things about yourself so that you’ll fit in? Have you found your own personal style?