I got the greatest complements from my sisters last week: They had no idea where I came from. Oh, don’t get me wrong: it’s not that there is anything wrong with my family, nor did I do anything so egregious. It’s just that I am so DIFFERENT than them. And to me, being my own person after a lifetime of trying to fit in, is the ultimate compliment.
For reasons too numerous to mention, or needing too many hours of therapy to unearth, I always felt that it was best to blend in with my surroundings. I became very, very good at it. In school I could talk with jocks or freaks or prepsters or nerds. I picked up accents within a conversation. Once, while walking down the Champs-Elysees in Paris for the first time, someone approached me and asked, in French, directions to the post office. I guess I looked like I knew where I was.
This chameleon-like ability served me very well – and still does. However, the down side is when that is the only thing you know and you lose track of who YOU are. That is what happened to me. I became so good at blending in and being whatever the person I was with at the time wanted, that I lost me. It is a frightening and lonely place to be.
It took a concentrated effort and true desire on my part to discover who Janet really was. Through a lot of self-discovery work, therapy and sobriety, I have come to the place of being so comfortable in my skin and so comfortable being with myself, that I am genuinely surprised when I hear things like “Wow – I could never do what you do.” These days, what I do is just second nature to me – it takes none of the intense observation and maneuvering my past required. Life flows and I am grateful to be along for the ride.
With a look of amazement, my sister said to me “You do whatever you want to do!” I smiled, grateful both for the acknowledgement and for the opportunity to enjoy each day. I have come to know the following:
- Life is a gift
- Life is an adventure, if you choose it to be
- You always have a choice
- We are here to learn
- Life is about discovering joy
- If you go throughout your day, doing what you “should” do, but not experiencing joy, you are not living fully
- Opportunities are ALWAYS being presented to us. Take advantage of them.
- The answers are within. Listen.
- Life is too short to live someone else’s life
So, the question to you: Whose life are you living?