It took me so long to be able to understand what it was that kept me down and left me feeling completely paralyzed for most of my life. All I did and all I was struggling with was trying to fit. Longing for the feeling to belong somewhere. All my decisions and doings were driven by my strong desire to fit in.
This longing to fit in grew to be so strong that I paid little to no attention trying to figure out who I really was. Instead I focused on what I believed other people might like about me. So it happened that as soon as circumstances and my external world changed – so did I. But never did I feel as if I was myself. I had no confidence in who I was and what I was doing. Instead I kept on wondering what it might be about myself, that I needed to change in order to… fit in, blend in. And wow, that is one exhausting job that I cannot imagine anyone to keep up with…
This cyclel is extremely difficult to break through. For as long as I can remember I felt that I had to do certain things, behave in a certain way and simply be a certain person in order to be liked, have great friends, get that degree, that job even. All because I thought that in the end I would finally be happy. As you can imagine, that created an enormous amount of pressure. A constant pressure to figure out what was the most optimal version of myself to achieve all that. That pressure became unbearable. Lastly it left me feeling tired, exhausted and drained of going out and meeting people, socialize or simply anything.
For some people that might be difficult to understand. What seems to be a way of relaxing or a great social life that serves you with positive energy became my greatest fear and source of frustration. Rather than going out with people to enjoy a dinner, great conversations and good company, I preferred to stay in and be by myself. At times, these feelings lasted for days, weeks, even months…
Isolating myself from friends and family did not help much. I still compared myself with everyone, told myself that everybody else got it all figured out and if only I was a little bit more like them…
I had to force myself to get back out there and meet friends and family – or worse even, stroll through the city or get a cup of coffee all by myself! My mind was everywhere but not with me. I imagined what other must think of me and that were no pretty thoughts. Until today, social life is nothing that comes easy to me – not because I don’t enjoy it but much more because it is still so easy for me to fall right back into my old mind habbit patterns. Staying with me in the present moment and not wandering off to ugly thoughts that are nothing but an illusion is a battle that I have to take on everyday.
How I learned to Embrace Myself
I knew the only way I could ever feel like I belong, I fit in was when I was okay with being myself. My body, mind and soul is the only place I could get that feeling of true connection and belonging.
My very first Yoga class ended with the teacher saying: “Give thanks to yourself for being here, making yourself a priority for the past 90 minutes. Give thanks to your body for making it possible to move and breathe like you just did.” At first, that shook me. Giving thanks to myself felt so awkward. Pointing the finger at myself for something so positive was something I had never done before. Yet it felt amazing! I left the class and had this weird feeling of relief and contemplation. Now, I know why. With every Yoga class I was granted glimpses of happiness. A moments of being at ease with myself.
Yoga gave me the feeling of belonging. Not because of the great community or a new hobby that I had found, but because I started to build a relationship and connection with myself. That connection grew deeper and stronger once I started my daily meditation practice. Meditation has helped me understand that I am not my thoughts and not my body but so much more. Through my daily meditation I am given a reminder to not engage with each and every sensation and thought that comes up. Instead of reacting straight away I try and take time to look and observe – without judging and evaluating.
This is the balance I need so desperately in my life. Balance to me, is the freedom from judgement and constant evaluation of whatever I experience. Letting go of my constant but unconscious judgements and evaluations is an ongoing practice that requires a lot of work and devotion. I am forever grateful that I began to understand that it is only by that practice I can fully embrace myself and finally feel like I belong and fit in. Because right here, right now, right where I am is exactly where I belong and fit in.
Ups and Downs
Oh and how well I know that writing this and following my own advice can be so extremely difficult sometimes. At times when I feel down and have troubles getting out of bed, let alone sit down to meditate at 6am, it gets more and more challenging. Nonetheless, having full trust and faith that it is all part of the journey, my journey, and that it all happens for a reason helps me through these times. And just like everything else, I shall not judge these times but accept them. Knowing that they too belong and are part of my journey.
One thing I keep telling myself every day is that life is happening for me – not to me! This trust and faith in life will manifest itself in these rough and dark times and guide me through it.