How I knew I was Born to FREAK: A Guest Post by Lesley Cross
I’ve always been hopelessly unable to be anything or anyone I’m not. And fairly unable to NOT be everything and everyone I am. I am a living, breathing, walking, dancing, writing contradiction. Metalhead rocker and honor student. Ballet dancer and rebel. A new mommy with a college degree in steel toed boots working nights in a factory. I’ve been all of those things. When I was young I could always tell that my wholeness was somewhat unexpected. Teachers were usually convinced that I’d wandered into the wrong class on the first day. One commented that I was “an enigma”. I chose to take it as a compliment.
Yet I never felt quite at home with myself. I would feel others’ expectations upon me like a weight, even when they were fairly accepting. There was a time I was told “stop acting that way, you’re not being yourself”. This is the most confusing thing that anyone has ever said to me- which is significant considering that I’ve conversed with toddlers, dementia patients and intoxicated hobos. How on earth could I be anything other than myself? I knew what the world seemed to expect of others, by category, but me? Maybe I wasn’t doing anything “right” but I couldn’t find a way to be different, or more accurately, a way to be what everyone else expected. Ultimately, I was pretty okay with that.
This changed when I became a mother. I was bound and determined, just once, to do something right. To not fail my children by being weird and therefore wrong. This was the MOST IMPORTANT THING I WOULD EVER DO. So I had to get it right, right?
Now we reach the point of the story where, predictably, things go horribly wrong. Have you ever been asked “Which would you rather be, right or happy?”. Earlier in my life, before motherhood, I had chosen to live my own way, the way that I was happiest, even if my life was a contradiction, even if I didn’t quite fit in. As a mother, I chose to be “right” and to not live my full being- to become one dimensional. As a result I rapidly found myself unable to uphold my own standards, unable to live my values. I value kindness. I value nurturing. I value presence and connection. I value creativity and uniqueness and curiosity. But I found myself so utterly empty and unhappy that I no longer knew myself. I was often unkind, unable to nurture, lost in my own black hole of conformity and disconnected from not only my children, but from all those little parts of me that could create a whole being.
I wish I could say I had an instant epiphany. That one day I saw how miserable I was making myself (and probably everyone else) and stopped. That I was struck with a sudden knowing that I’m an awesome multifaceted jewel of a being….or something like that. But I think instant epiphanies are few and far between even if they make popular stories.
How did I begin to love my life? How did I begin to love and accept my amazing and crazy contradictions, the fun of being a whole unique person? By noticing what felt better. And doing more of that. I became an excellent knitter. I read books. I took up yoga. I started growing things. I began drawing and listening to music and playing guitar again. The more I noticed and reached for what felt better, the better my life became.
In fact, I began to develop a sense that my life could be even better, more full of wonder, perhaps even soul quenchingly amazing. And as I reached ever deeper for the feel good through reading, writing, coaching, getting coached and just plain having fun, I came to discover one thing. It all comes back to being 100%, completely, truly, exactly me. Contradictions and all. No more should. No more weight of others’ expectations. Just celebration of what is. Here, now.