You have it in your power and capacity to create the life you want.
Do you know that?
We often forget that we have the power to validate our own decisions. So many of us are trying to make ourselves small so as not to inconvenience others and not to put ourselves in fearful positions.
That's fine. It's a natural response; fight, flight or freeze to protect our physical body and ego. Response to fear is not only natural, it is necessary. Fear keeps us safe and physically whole.
The safety comes at the expense of something else, however:
Fear can get in the way of our emotional and mental wholeness.
What we often fail to realize is that external circumstances do not control our lives. We do.
Beyond the initial response of fear, we get to choose how we react in a given situation.
Outside forces might direct what choices we have available to us, but we always have the choice to fly in the face of convention, to acknowledge our fears and doubts and keep moving forward how we see fit.
External circumstances can be a rut in the road that jolts us in a particular direction, but ultimately we have our own hands on the wheel.
We just forget that we're the driving force in our lives sometimes.
You don't really need me to tell you that you can shape your own life.
Even so, the outside validation can be helpful. Encouragement and truth from someone else can nudge you in the right direction so you feel validated enough to take ownership.
I know when I'm down and feeling completely steamrolled by life, kind words from friends and family (as well as the occasional ass kick) can be what I need to either accept my current situation or pull myself out of it.
I don't really need to grant you permission, because ultimately only you can do that. But when we're initially trying to mold our circumstances, someone else giving us a road map and telling us we're following the right path can feel more legitimate, especially at first.
I'm here not take over for you, but to help remind you of what I hope you already know.
You have so much beauty and strength and resilience and resolve to grow into the life you desire.
I see it.
You just have to keep actively choosing that life for yourself, day in and day out, over and over.
These words are to help confirm that everything you are and do is right, affirmations of your intrinsic wholeness, and the blanket permission to just be and act exactly as feels right.
What You May Need to Hear
I think you are wonderful. Truly.
I may not know you, but I love you. If I do know you, then you can be sure I love you.
There are a lot of messages that tell you to be more [fill in the blank here], but you really don't need anyone to tell you that you need to be more anything or how to change or when.
Do I think self improvement is a valuable aspiration? Sure.
Do I think working toward aspirations is time and energy well spent? Absolutely.
But I also think that you are completely wonderful just the way you are. Maybe you don't believe me but that is exactly how I feel.
I see how your eyes grow wide and your face glows when you talk about your dreams.
It makes me excited and I want to do everything in my power to support you and see that image fully realized.
This is your permission to want what you want.
This is your permission to ask for what you want.
This is your permission to be unapologetic about your needs, because your wellbeing is non-negotiable.
Sometimes your wants will conflict with the expectations of other people, even people you love. The conflict is unfortunate, but it can be unavoidable when you start expressing what feels truest to you.
This is not approval to forgo compromise. But it is permission to feel like you have a voice in compromise. You are allowed to stand your ground and to express your full self, even in the face of disagreement and disappointment.
Other people are likewise allowed to ask for what they need and it is within your power to tell them if their decisions disappoint you.
You can navigate disappointment and you can navigate disappointing others. It doesn't feel great all the time, but when all is said and done, you will not regret making your truth known.
You are not too much.
On occasion, and especially in your early years, you might have been told that you are "too much."
Too loud. Too demanding. Too quiet. Too bossy. Too angry. Too sensitive. And so on.
I remember one Christmas, when I was perhaps seven or eight years old, my older sister and cousin were talking late at night while I pretended to be asleep. The conversation was about me and it was lengthy enough that I don't recall all of the particulars. What I do remember is my cousin saying that I was too sensitive. That I needed to toughen up. That I cried too much. That I cared too much.
A statement like that now might still give me momentary pause, but when he said it then I felt cut to the core. Someone I looked up to, whom I fully believed and admired, thought I was too sensitive.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I cried about it later.
I also spent years holding back, especially around this cousin, for fear of being branded once more as "too much." In times of vulnerability sometimes my tears would come, unbidden, and I would feel deep shame. I truly thought for years that something was wrong with me for my sensitivity.
As a result, I developed some measure of the "toughness" he thought I should have, but at the expense of fully being able to express myself.
Despite some of the reeling in that I did to keep my emotions in check, I never could fully stamp out what he thought of as "too much."
It is embedded in my nature to care so deeply, so much, cells bursting with happiness, joy, sadness, and any number of unnamed emotions.
My cousin wasn't wrong for saying what he thought. He didn't even know I was listening.
The only thing is, at that age I took his opinion for truth. I didn't know I could choose not agree with him.
I didn't know that could recognize my own shortcomings on my own time and decide if it was necessary to do something about them.
You do have the choice whether to take in or acknowledge what other people think of you.
From where I stand now, I can see that my cousin was on the opposite end of the spectrum. He has always been extremely emotionally stoic, much more than I would ever care for in my own life or with close friends. I could have just as easily said that he was not sensitive enough or didn't care enough.
But the point is, I'm not too sensitive and he's not uncaring. Because what does the measurement system for that look like anyway? Is there a meter with an optimal sensitivity-stoicism reading?
We're just the way that we are and that jives well with some people and turns other people away.
I didn't know it then, but high sensitivity is a gift. It means that those of us who are that sensitive have a deep capacity for empathy, for reading an emotional situation and being in tune with others.
The downside of high sensitivity is that individuals can get so deeply entrenched in someone else's emotions that they lose their own grounding and sense of self.
And high levels of stoicism? That can be a gift too. The ability to step back with apparent neutrality can be invaluable in times of stress.
The downside of high stoicism is that individuals can get so emotionally detached that they're no longer relatable.
Neither fully good nor bad. Just how we are.
You're not "too much" anything. And how you are is enough.
This is your permission to consider why someone thinks you're too much or not enough and read it with an asterisk.
As long as it is not harmful to the people around you, however you operate is just right, not too much, and totally enough.
You don't need to apologize and you don't need to justify your personality.
This is your permission to hold back in reserve, to observe, to be calculating, waiting.
This is your permission to care deeply, fully, unbridled, tears streaming, choke-sobbing.
You are worthy.
I shouldn't have to tell you this, but you deserve everything you need and want.
You deserve to feel loved, to know what it means to love fully and to take up space on this earth.
You don't have to earn worthiness.
Worthiness is not conditional. You have inherent worth just by being a creature on this planet.
Your presence is not an inconvenience.
Do I have to say that sentence again? It sounds like something I need to hear.
Your presence is not an inconvenience.
You are welcome to be here. Not only welcome to exist, but to flourish and prosper.
You are not only welcome but in fact required to show the world your gifts and grow into a space that fully supports your wants and needs.
Not only are you required, but it is a disservice to yourself and to the world if you do not.
You are worthy and you are wonderful.
You are doing a great job.
I know you don't hear that enough.
I think we're all under-appreciated in some way, because there is always more that we can each be recognized for than is expressed.
But I see that you are trying your very best, even when your best is just barely better than your worst.
Even when you feel like you can do so little to make an impact.
Even when you feel like life is dragging you face first through mud and excrement.
I've been watching you and I still think you're doing great.
If you have an opportunity today or tomorrow, try to tell someone else that they are doing a great job and that you notice.
It might seem like so little, but that sentiment can entirely make someone's day or week or month.
You are exactly where you need to be.
When you're in a deep fog and feeling lost or sad or unsettled and just generally "off," I hope you know that it is okay to sit with the darkness and sadness.
The best way out is through, so if you need to endure and feel awful, please do.
Allow yourself to fully dive into your pain or your uneasiness. We can only experience the highest highs if we allow ourselves to feel our deep lows.
I know you feel like friends and family and so many people in your life depend on you to be a certain way, but they will be just fine while you take the time to take care of yourself.
I know you feel like you have to turn on your "shine" for others, but they can do it for themselves. You've taught them how just by spending time with them, by lighting them up in with every interaction.
We're taught to expect a quick bounce-back. To grin and bear it and carry onward on the outside even if the whole of our being tells us it can't.
Not everyone will understand, no matter how well meaning, and some might try to rush your recovery.
It might take months to get out of your funk. It might take years to surpass grief, and even then at times you might feel the deepness of loss until your dying day.
And, here's the important message: that's okay! You are just the way you need to be and, while it helps to garner supporters in your dark moments, ultimately the only person who needs to understand your situation is you.
This is your permission to take the time and do what you need. That's not a request so much as insistence.
Allow yourself to relish every emotion.
There is a certain sweetness in being sad, triumph in anger, and satisfaction in self-pity wallowing. Don't dwell there to the point where it's no longer helpful, but tap into how each moment feels because that is the gift of being alive.
Cheesy, sure. True, nonetheless.
Likewise, rejoice with every fiber in your being.
Have you reached a momentous goal, one that you have spent weeks or even months working up to and just wiped your hands of it, saying, "Okay, done. What's next"?
Let's not do that anymore.
It is your right to be happy, no questions asked.
Experiencing profound joy can be the pinnacle of our lives if we let it.
This is your permission to savor your accomplishment and the knowledge that you did what you were not entirely sure was possible.
If you are riding high on achievement, celebrate wildly.
I mean, don't brag. But share your joy with others, both in times of your own achievements and in theirs.
Sometimes the people in your life won't understand your joy, like they don't understand your grief (these are often the same people). That's okay. It's a shame that they miss out, but the truest friends are the ones who do understand. Those friends are your people, your tribe, and they will rejoice alongside you.
It is okay to celebrate. It is okay to feel good.
You don't have to justify your access to positive feelings.
You don't have to explain why you feel a certain way.
You can, but you don't owe it to anyone and it is not mandatory.
You may change your mind at any time, as often as you want.
This is your permission to follow your fancies.
You can be as fickle as you want or need.
I think commitment and follow through are excellent and sometimes necessary tools, but they're not sacred. Circumstances change and so do your feelings.
Think about the reasons why you're having a change of heart. Wait it out if you need to make sure it's right.
But once you know and you have a persistent gut feeling that calls for change, do it.
Once again, no explanation needed, but feel free to provide one if that feels right.
It's important to note that your choice might have felt real and true to you at first. And changing your mind can still be just as real and true. "I’m not lying. It’s just that the truth has changed."
You may start from scratch whenever you damn well please. You may take a 180 turn; you may do what you previously said you never would and take joy in that.
You Be You
The moral of the story is: speak your truth, be as kind as you can, and acknowledge that some people will just not get it.
You be you.
No questions asked, no explanation needed.
You may not need my permission, but here it in case it might be helpful.
This is your own life, and you only get one so you'd better get after it.