For me, the hardest part about writing is starting. I’m a master-procrastinator, yet when I finally buckle down to write something (usually at the last moment) I almost always find it flows out of me with ease. I’m left with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
My resistance to starting, and the subsequent fulfillment I experience once finished, indicates that writing is good for me, and is probably why my psychotherapist and spiritual ‘guru’ keep suggesting I do more of it.
I recently turned 40, and I’ve started to question my life—where I’m at and where I’m headed—kind of a mid-life crisis I suppose. I’ve been sober for just over 14 years. During that time, my spiritual advisor has empowered me to chase my passions and go after my dreams. He constantly reminds me that there is no right or wrong on my journey—to live in the moment and be propelled by passion. This is easier said than done, because I have a mind that is extremely self-centred in a negative way. I’m not much, but I’m all I think about. Because of this deep insecurity, I constantly seek the validation of others: Is my style okay? Am I fit enough? How many likes did my post get? When is the right time to text him after the first date? Was my yoga class slow because no one likes me anymore? What would everyone say if I decided to change my career?
With this insanity whirling around in my head, I tend to make decisions that support receiving the validation from others that gives me the momentary sense of fulfillment and security.
And then that momentary sense of fulfillment and security is gone. And I crash.
I’ve spent the better part of my life chasing fame and acknowledgement, first as a clubkid in the downtown party scene, then as ‘poster boy’ for recovery, and now as a yoga teacher. In the beginning of my sobriety, yoga was a passion for me for sure, and I wanted to share it with the world. I was high on a yoga vibe all the time, and obsessed with how great I felt and how great I thought I probably looked. When I started teaching my brand Jock Yoga, I received a lot of publicity and media attention, and somewhere along the way, I started getting higher on the acknowledgement rather than my true passion of sharing what I loved so much.
Fast forward to being 40 and my mid-life crisis.
I started seeing my psychotherapist at the beginning of the summer because I wasn’t happy in most of my waking moments. I was happy when I was on TV, or in the news, or when I had a full class. But I wasn’t happy when the high subsided, or the ‘likes’ stopped coming in. I was always anxiously waiting for the next gig (hit) to come.
What I began to realize was that publicity doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t feed me. And, it certainly wasn’t bringing me a romantic partner. In short, publicity (validation) doesn’t fulfill me.
So here I am 40 years old, single and insecure about my future.
Psychotherapy helped me see things more objectively, and I began to structure my life in a more meaningful way.
Interestingly, I started dating a bit at the exact moment I began therapy. Thank goodness for that! When questioning my therapist about when it was the right time to text or call or say something daring to my potential partner, he told me something I’ll never forget: When you are asking everyone for the right answer on how to behave in dating, you are looking for a rulebook that doesn’t exist. Likewise, if you’re acting on that advice of others, you are creating a persona that is a culmination of the people you’re seeking advice from. And furthermore, your potential ‘partner’, therefore, is not entering into a relationship with you, but with someone who doesn’t exist!
I immediately took the chance of being myself and letting my date know that I wanted to see him sooner—regardless of whether he was going to think I was clingy or cute. The result in this case was favorable. And if it wasn’t, at least I was being me. This integrity will quickly weed out who’s not a match for me.
It seems I’m looking for that non-existent ‘who I should be’ rulebook in all areas of my life. I’m always chasing validation. I’m always acting on the individual or combined suggestions of others. I’m always a persona—not a person. Well, not a person of integrity anyway.
I have to get over the idea of everyone liking me, and just learn to be myself. I have to take chances: If I want to post something because I think it’s funny—I post it. If I’m proud of a photo I took (new passion of mine!)—I post it. If I want to see someone sooner—I tell them. If I want to write a blog post—I write it and post it. And if I don’t want to do something—I don’t do it!
Not everyone is going to like me and my newfound voice. And, some people will find me endearing. Slowly, and maybe not so slowly, I begin to become myself—a person—not a persona of collected beliefs. I begin to lose the need for validation, and start to attract my ‘tribe’ into my life. I sleep better knowing I haven’t people-pleased or sold my soul during the day. And I have hope for the future, because having integrity is grounding, and I’m no longer relying on fleeting moments of temporary security from external validation.
*The featured photo for this post doesn’t have much to do with the content. I posted it because I like it.