If you’ve been following along in the blog series and you’ve gotten this far, then you’ve been able to identify that the real “you” has gotten lost in the shuffle somewhere. You’ve also begun to examine ways to find out who the real “you” is. What have you found? Did you remember that you love to sing or play the piano? Were you reminded that your dream of working with animals everyday is still waiting to be fulfilled?
Whatever those parts of you are the you’ve recently rediscovered, we’re super excited that you’re finding them! Of course, now you’re probably wondering, though, “Now what?” The answer to that is actually two-fold, and we’ll address that in this entry and Part Four of this series.
The first part, which we’ll address here, is identifying what pushed you off track in the first place and what may be continuing to KEEP you off track. Yes, we know this part isn’t as fun as actually pursuing that real “you”, but, believe us, knowing this information will help you tremendously when you get to that step!
No one knowingly abandons parts of their true self. We don’t wake up one day and decide that we’re simply not going to engage in an activity that brings us so much identity. The reality is actually that we often set them aside in favor of pursuing other parts of our selves and, over time, they just end up lost behind the layers.
Take motherhood for example. There are countless pursuits and dreams and goals that get put on hold when one becomes a mother. Maybe you used to be an aspiring dancer. Or maybe you loved sports and played on an intramural team. But then you got pregnant and had your first child. And then another. And maybe even another one or two after that. There was no time for hours at the dance studio or attending practices and games every week. Your children were your priority.
And, let’s be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, your children should have taken priority. Moving into motherhood was an extension of your self, and you likely embraced it with arms open wide. You knew there would be sacrifices to be made, and you were perfectly fine with that. But that was then and this is now, and you’re no longer tied to feedings every two hours or recovering from a C-section. Still, motherhood, and everything that goes along with it, has become the overriding priority in your life. Even over yourself.
Now, some of you may be saying to yourself, “You’re crazy. My children should be my first priority, and I will always make them that.” We understand that mindset but hear us out…
Let’s imagine that you’re in charge of carpooling a total of five kids everyday. You invest in the latest and greatest minivan. It seats seven, has cup holders available for every passenger, plenty of extra storage for backpacks, remote sliding doors on both sides, stainproof upholstery and carpet, heat/air conditioning vents for each passenger, etc., etc. And you maintain that minivan like a BOSS! You check the tire pressure on the daily, maintain the fluids, vacuum out Cheerio bits every afternoon, clean the tracks for the sliding doors, and Febreeze the crap out of that baby. You are the QUEEN of the minivan! It’s you’re number one priority to have the best minivan ever and it shows!
It even shows when it’s sitting on the side of the road because you’ve run out of gas. Only now you’ve got problems. Because you don’t have anyone to call to help you. You’re on your own with this lack of fuel issue. And pretty soon you’ve got cranky children. And someone just spilled their juice down their front and all over the seat and floor. And it’s hot, but the A/C isn’t working because there’s no gas in the car to run it. And someone has to pee. And then someone throws up. And you know there’s no amount of Febreeze that’s going to fix THAT. And suddenly, as much as you loooove that minivan and as much as you know that it will all end up being fine eventually and you’ll be back in the successful carpooling game, it doesn’t make much difference. Because, in that moment, you’ve run out of gas.
That’s what motherhood is, and you, my friend, are the minivan. You can be the greatest mother with the greatest kids and the most Pinterest worthy seasonal crafts that you do with them each day after school but, if you aren’t paying attention to your own personal “gas gauge”, you’re going to run out.
Maybe you ran out awhile ago and you know it. Maybe you’re currently running on fumes. Whichever it is, your personal fuel lies somewhere within that part of your true self that you put in a box so many years ago. It’s not in that 15 minutes you’re trying to get for yourself locked in the bathroom while someone continues to talk to you through the door. No, it’s in reconnecting to the self that was there before you became a mother.
But motherhood is just one example. Maybe you set parts of yourself aside because of a relationship or even your spouse. Maybe it was a job. Maybe you experienced a major life event that necessitated that you give some things up or just required that you “put on a happy face” and you never learned how to take it off.
Whatever it was, it’s important to know. Knowing helps you to identify if it’s really something that requires the same level of commitment in your life as it did before or if you’ve just simply allowed it to remain in control.
Look, all of us have countless demands and expectations that have come to rule our lives. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Recognizing what pushed you off track and, more importantly, what’s keeping you off track will help you identify areas to grow and evolve. It will also help you to form a preemptive plan of attack for how to respond when those circumstances show up again. Remember that saying no to someone else in favor for saying yes to yourself is not always a bad thing!
So start taking a hard look at your past and present. Is someone telling you that you shouldn’t be that person you were before you got derailed from her? Is that someone maybe even yourself?
And be sure to stay tuned for Part Four and our final post in this series where we’ll talk about all the fun things you can do to embrace and nurture your new found true self!