She’s been everybody else’s girl
Maybe one day she’ll be her own. – Tori Amos
in my teens and early 20’s, i knew i’d figure out how to be a great mom with an ambitious career. it’s what you did – excel at every facet, fulfill your potential, HaveItAll.
in the decade of my mid-20-30s, new seeds of thought fell into my expectation pool. it seemed inevitable that i would rock out an independent and fulfilling career. but what *was* the right definition of success? my laser-focused, expectations-meeting soul longed to be content to spend a day reading a book under a tree in the shade – to see that as an equally valid use of my time. but…wasn’t that frivolous?
there is no doubt that as the first (and for quite a while, only) child who grew up in a household of high expectations, i have been wired all my life to please the people i care about. as an adult, i am highly motivated to do things when i know they make someone else happy. it sounds cheesy, but i most naturally “live to serve” – which often makes me an empathetic and pleasant friend, partner, colleague, and employee.
it’s also kind of a huge pain in the ass.
boundaries were hard. overcommitting was easy. losing myself in the needs and drama of others was inevitable. i looked around in my mid-20s and had to ask, “whose hand is on the wheel?” – and that was the primary question for the next decade of my life.
progress is really hard to gauge from within. and for the last couple of years, i’ve been looking around at my life and having ah-hah moments.
when i started asking myself how i could possibly disentangle from being Everyone Else’s Girl, i had no answers and i was skeptical about how much progress i could really make. it’s…me – just me and who i am and how i’m wired. yes, it sucks that i’ll always be more inclined to do The Thing that someone else needs or wants over the The Thing i really want, but by filtering who got that from me, i was managing to have a pretty satisfying life.
except…*looks around at my 40s*…i’m apparently doing it.
for 15 years, i’ve been incrementally making choices that simplify my life. i eliminated friendships that were one-sided. i chose not to have children. i live on an island, where it’s harder to overcommit to social or community things. i recognized that when i’m too committed to a full-time career, i drive myself into the ground, so i consciously chose to nurture a business where i have more control over what work i take. i live a pretty simple life, and in that puddle of sunshine that peace offers, the seeds of self-care and prioritizing myself have begun to grow.
there is time for growing in my yoga practice. there is solitude to observe wildlife and discover things about the world around me through photography. there is energy to put my hands in the dirt and grow things. there is motivation to cook good healthy food every day and feel the benefits. there is time for laughing and kissing and hiking and…
and suddenly, there i am. not every day, not every minute – but a lot more than ever before…i’m my own girl.