“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us but our beliefs as to what those events mean.” ~Tony Robbins
Daughter of an alcoholic. Welfare recipient. Teenage mother. Non-college attendee. Poor decision maker. Unhealthy relationship participant. Financial disaster. Evictee.
All of these statements described me. They also propelled me into action, transforming me into an over-achieving perfectionist. Yet they still weighed me down because I felt like I had to constantly prove I was better than my past—better than the circumstances from which I came.
It took a lot of effort.
It took a lot of energy.
It was a burden.
I gained a lot of knowledge, built a tremendous skill set, and developed expertise. I was successful on the outside, but on the inside I felt like nothing more than a fraud.
I avoided events where the question of what college I attended may surface.
I avoided situations that would put me in the company of highly educated people, for fear that their vocabulary would be beyond my understanding and I would appear stupid.
I avoided conversations about any topic that I did not feel a level of expertise in discussing.
I avoided talking about my past and my history.
Avoidance became a whole new skill set—one that I executed with a level of mastery. At some point I began to realize this game of charades was not in alignment with my core values of honesty and integrity.
I began to realize that the energy I was putting into creating a false image of myself was taking away my ability to live my life fully and openly.
I began to realize that in order to move forward, I had to come to terms with my past, to extract the good, to carry forward the lessons learned, but to leave behind the all of the garbage I’d outgrown.
The kindness and generosity shown by to me strangers, neighbors, family, and friends when I was in the greatest need. The people who cheered me on and believed in me when I did not believe in myself. The few who knew my biggest, darkest secrets and loved me anyway.
Understanding that no matter how much you want something for someone else, the only person you have control over—that you can change—is yourself.
Accepting the fact that when you blame other people for what is wrong with your life, nothing is ever going to get better.
Realizing that no matter how bad a situation seems in the moment, someone else is surviving, sometimes even thriving, in much more difficult circumstances.
What you believe about yourself and your limitations will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And, it doesn’t matter how “successful” you seem on the outside if you are miserable on the inside.
When my perception shifted, so did my life. Today I embrace who I am—all of me—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I am grateful for all of the experiences I’ve encountered.
I realize that I was judging myself far more harshly that anyone else ever could.
I let go of the belief that I had to hide from my past.
I let go of the belief that I was “less than.”
I let go of the belief that I was not worthy.
I no longer pretend.
I share openly and, in claiming my story, it not only helps me but also helps others on their journey. It gives them the courage to share their truth, to stop hiding and start living.
Recovering perfectionist. Student of life. Woman of strength. Overcomer of obstacles. Seeker of growth. Embracer of truth. These are the descriptors I’ve added to my life story. The rich and messy truth of my past makes possible the true success of my todays.
What beliefs are you clinging to that are holding you back? Where in your life are you feeling like a fraud? What are the tough and painful lessons that you can be grateful for today when you look through this new lens of perspective?
Reflect. Journal. Dig deep and find the answers. It’s in this process—in your truth—that you will find true happiness, success, and self-acceptance. It’s where healing begins. It’s where you will find peace.