I am first born. I have one sister, two years younger than me. It’s funny how we grew up in the same house but had such different experiences. Throughout elementary school I was always jealous of the kids who had older siblings. I always wished I had an older brother or sister. Someone who could be real with me and tell me what I needed to do to survive the years ahead. Someone who had walked before me and figured some things out along the way and could save me some time. For instance they would be able to tell me “cool” things I should do. An older brother might have taught me how to play soccer, kick the ball with confidence and ladder lace my shoes . An older sister might have shown me how to french braid my hair and how to pass notes to my best friend. I would have listened to her music, watched what she wore, and copied her confidence.
But I didn’t have any of this. Because I was the oldest, I went first. I had to pave the way and navigate these waters without any help. I always felt so very alone – knowing I had to just figure all of this out on my own. I was never sure I was doing it right. Remember American Girl dolls? Well I had one. Molly. And props to the American Girl company because they expanded that brand far beyond the original books and dolls, they created an empire. Beyond the books about their young heroine’s from different time periods, they had books for young girls on all sorts of subjects. Including the one that basically became my bible: ‘The Care and Keeping of You’. I kept this book on my nightstand and referred to it often. I am so thankful I had that thing.
I grew up in a home where we just didn’t talk about things. So when I wanted to know more about something I was experiencing or feeling, I went to this book. I didn’t think this was abnormal or unusual at the time, because when you’re young you don’t know anything else. It just was. Despite this acceptance, I always sensed that something was “off”. It was an uneasy feeling. I always felt like my parents were keeping things from me. It was in elementary school that I fell into the kind of propagandous thinking influenced to believe that “it was for my own good, that my parents were protecting me”. From what exactly, I did not know. Now I want to be clear, I don’t want to confuse this very limited understanding of the world with “sheltered”. At first I suppose you could say I was sheltered but it perpetuated beyond that. Healthy conflict resolution, communication, and emotional expression – none of these things were modeled for me. I was craving the truth that I knew was being kept from me. I always knew there was more to the story. My parents never showed weakness, their vulnerabilities, or mistakes they had made.
So I never learned how to deal with any of these things when they happened to me. That whole work hard thing, that was me. I thought that was my identity. Someone who just works really hard. Give me a task and you bet your ass I will give it my all. There may be some blood, sweat, and tears, but I will get it done. What’s worse is I prided myself on this quality. Now I will admit, this mentality did get me places, but it was certainly not the most effective route (for both my sense-of-self and well-being). And let’s be clear, that “work smarter, not harder” concept did not apply here. It’s not until recently that I have begun to dig up these deeply rooted beliefs I had about myself.
I thought you had to always be strong. If something was hard, well then too bad, you push ahead. You’re tired? Well try harder. If you think that’s your best? A question that echoed in my mind. I always doubted if it was my best. Could I have done more? It was simply unacceptable to be anything less than perfect. And forget actually telling people how I was actually feeling (nervous and anxious). Or that I didn’t know how to deal with all the pressure. I honestly never even considered this an option. I remember months before piano recitals, when my piano teacher would introduce the sheet music to me of the song I was to play. I would think about that recital every single day. I dreaded the day it would come. I hated playing in recitals.
And mistakes, well naturally I made plenty of those, but I didn’t know they were okay to make. I didn’t learn how to have grace with myself when I made a mistake. My parents never shared mistakes they made with me. I didn’t know it was normal. And I certainly didn’t know it was acceptable. I felt like making a mistake, made me a mistake.
The things I didn’t know have made me into the human I am today. I am learning what it is to be human. It’s no surprise to me that I am on the path I am on. With the podcast I am feeding my appetite for truth. The refreshing stories filled with mistakes, self-doubt, and uncertainties. It’s where people share with me all of the things I never had growing up. And the more people I interview the more I have felt like ALL of the things I have experienced and felt, they have too. I can sit across from them and see them for all that they are. My parents just showed me their best takes, not their mistakes. All I ever saw was their highlight reel. I’m just grateful I have woken up. That I know that’s not the truth. That the real story is messy, uncomfortable, and includes your weakest moments. It’s the part of us when shared with others, in fact makes us stronger.
Just a disclaimer that this is in not sponsored post.