Monday, February 23, 2009

Seeing Me

I've been thinking a lot about how I want to see myself and also how I hope Lily will see me.  Sometimes it feels like an overwhelming task to become the me I want to be: Where do I start?

I guess that's why I've chosen to start with this task.  

As I consider all of the things I always feared I was incapable of becoming; a good mother, a responsible adult, financially secure, happy with my appearance, a reliable and sensitive partner, successful in business and art... happy in general; I start remembering where I was in November of 2001.

In November of 2001 I crashed.  In September I had a job as a beauty consultant with Christian Dior, I lived in a beautiful 100 year old building in a charming nieghborhood of St. Louis, I had an active social life with dozens of friends and threw regular after-hours parties at my apartment, I had a car, wore beautiful clothes, was a promising young fashion photographer coming out of my first show of my work, and I knew my life was just beggining.

In October the facade began to crumble.  I began having panic-attacks due to a new and horrible social anxiety.  I had to quit my job, lost my car, quit talking to all of my friends, and most of all I wanted to die.   By November the crash was complete.  I was basically home-bound out of fear of seeing anyone, locked away in my own mind, a month behind on my rent with no way to pay, and alternately determined to end my suffering (and life) or to not be a coward and take 'the easy way out.'  In the end, I decided that I would give myself one last try.  I would call around and see if there was any place an uninsured 26-year old could get help.

When I think about where I was then, and the journey that has taken me to who I am today, I am sure that I CAN become all of the things I fear I am incapable of.  I am sure, even, that I CAN become even more than those things.  

I have, at this time and place, the perfect opportunity to dream myself into existence. I can forget about what I 'can't' do and what I'm 'probably incapable' of.  No one here (that would remind me) has any pre-concieved notions about the kind of person I am.  I really am living a new life... it's up to me to decide what that life will be.

And this is what I know:
1. I cannot be a new me and still be the old me... I have to start as if I were the first page of an empty book, fill myself up from the foundation to the frosting, and look at who I will be without the burden of comparing that me to who I used to be or what remnants of her might still be hiding underneath.

That doesn't mean I won't share a great deal in common with the old me.  I, like everyone, had great qualities, talents, experiences, and emotions that are certainly going to make my list of things I want to be.  Even those, though, will be in some way renewed and improved for they can't help but be bettered through my growth and success if they are worth bringing with me.

2.  I'm going to dream big.  Sometimes people say to aim small and move gradually; that's not the path I'm going to take.  I'm going to create a vision of myself, figure out what makes that vision work, and then do whatever work it takes to achieve the qualities, skills, habits, and actions that will bring my vision to life.  I believe that I would rather become all of me all at once instead of having to go back and undo other bad habits before I can move further toward my goal.  I want to take the shortest route to success; I'm going to aim for what I want instead of what I could make do with!

3. I'm going to forget about limitations and failure.  I'm going to take the steps I need to take, break my goals into pieces as small as I need them to be, and tackle this miracle one moment at a time.  I'm going to stop worrying about "limitations" and find a way to banish the idea of failure from my thoughts.  The truth is, the only reason for my failure in my life has been my fear of failing.  Like so many people I have given up dozens of opportunities, missed out on hundreds of potential friends, and forgotten countless "amazing" ideas that I failed to act on because I was scared I wouldn't succeed, that I would be embarrassed by my inadequacy, that I would put myself out there and get rejected, or (worst of all) would not meet up to my own expectations of myself.  No more! From now on I'm only failing if I'm not trying!

So, back to my original purpose of this post. How do I want to see me/ How do I want Lily to see me?

  • as a strong and capable woman
  • as a responsible and reliable woman
  • as a good and loving mother
  • as trustworthy
  • as kind and compassionate
  • as successful in business and art
  • as personally and professionally ethical
  • as non-judgemental and open
  • as wise and intellectual
  • as happy and young-at-heart
  • as healthy and attractive
  • as someone who deserves respect
  • as lovable 
  • as someone who truly loves other human beings
  • as someone who gives generously, in all ways
  • as a creative thinker who makes her dreams come true
I guess that's enough for right now.  For tommorow I hope to have determined a little about what it would take to be those things (what qualities/habits/actions would likely result in having this view of me).  

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