“We all have our own paths and when we leave it to pick and choose from someone else’s, we lose our own sense of direction,” Rachel Wolchin. This has weighed heavily on my mind for a few days. As I look at my life, I see how much of it is not my own. Not that it was forced on me, but that I made it a hodge podge mess of the pieces I collected from those around me. I was so afraid to get in touch with who I am at my core that I never bothered looking there to see who I am. Now, I’m not saying that the pieces I took don’t resonate with me—I am saying that they aren’t FULLY me.
For me, the blending in and assimilating other people’s likes and dislikes (and sometimes appropriating them…sorry) started when I entered kindergarten. Two things happened: 1. I was the youngest in my family so I took my lessons from my elder siblings as a way to get through the day. 2. I was bullied about my height from the time I entered school so, as a defense mechanism, I tried desperately to find ways to relate to others, even if it meant being exactly like them. I wanted to be liked, to fit in. Both of those things are simply human nature—we learn from those around us and we will do what we have to in order to be accepted.
The trouble was I never learned to STOP doing that. The bullying never stopped so I always adapted to not stand out. And it didn’t work so I fell deeper and deeper into the identities of those around me. Anything to get the attention off of myself. As the pattern continued, I lost touch with any sense of self. It felt like I was in survival mode all the time. When you’re trying to survive, you’re not thriving, and you’re certainly not connected to any intuition that will guide you on your next step. At least, that is how I got off my own path.
The first step for me was realizing that I was still taking from other people. Ironically, the reminder came up recently while we were looking at houses. As we’ve been through so many different places, two habits of mine have consistently shown up: 1. There are certain design elements that I really like and I consistently point them out if they show up in each house. 2. There are certain unique design elements I’m seeing that are specific to these people that I feel myself drawn to…and thinking about how I would like to do that. Not that I want to carry it into my house, but that I start feeling like I want to live in the house just as they have it. That is where I have to stop myself. Just because they’ve adapted something to their taste doesn’t mean I would be able to do the same thing—or even that I would like it.
When we stop picking from other people, we start showing what is really us. For someone who has tried to blend most of her life, it can be scary to reveal what is really inside. But the only way to find our unique path is to stop straddling two lanes, stop looking to others for the answer, get quiet and let go of the fear. Personally, I’m starting with stopping. It doesn’t feel good picking from other people anymore. It doesn’t feel safe—it feels inauthentic. It feels like I’m stifling what wants to be seen in my life. That feels like a good place to start. Recognizing what does feel good is the next step. Letting go of the fear of other people’s opinions is after that…or maybe it should be first…or maybe I can do this how I want to regardless. I’ll let you know 😊