Note: Trigger warning for death, grief & loss.
Growing up, I was made to feel extraordinary. Special skills. Special kid. Made to feel like I can achieve big things, that only *I* can achieve.
Did you feel that way too? I certainly hope you did. It's a special kind of feeling. The look of adoration from my close ones who looked at me like I could achieve anything.
I want to believe that many parents look at their children this way. I'm not sure though. What has been your experience?
Things feel a little different when people you don't know that well start looking at you that way. Teachers who only see you at school. Classmates who only see you during lessons. Friends who only see you in certain circumstances.
The pressure to maintain this extraordinary image increases. People were looking at me expecting me to perform a certain way, be a certain person, achieve certain things.
I don't think I ever stopped to question if I wanted to perform in those ways, be the person they wanted me to be, or achieve those things. It didn't even occur to me that all of these things were tied to achievements. But I went on to do those things for a long long time.
Along the way, I felt very uncomfortable being labeled as a "high-achiever", "extraordinary", "child prodigy", "special child", among other things. I assumed being extraordinary meant taking on those labels and performing those identities.
I refused to be extraordinary. I wasn't extraordinary.
I was just being myself doing the best I can, I used to think to myself.
Sadly, I tore myself into pieces in this process. I spent a big chunk of my life being at war with myself trying to be who people wanted me to be instead of being who I really was.
Things began to change sometime last year. I suffered the loss of a person who was important to me. They had witnessed me battling this war with myself. They stood by my side encouraging me to be myself regardless of what came my way. Regardless of what people around me expected me to be. They encouraged me to find myself, and be myself.
I didn't know how to make sense of their passing. I felt like I failed them. I felt like I lost the chance to show them my true self. And be my true self around them. Or let them see me being my true self out in the real world that I had so carefully hidden away from everyone's view, protecting this part of me.
As a way to process the grief, I made a promise to myself. To come back home to myself - my mind, body and spirit. Learn to be me fully, however uncomfortable it might be. After years of performing for others, many days I feel like I don't even know who I am.
And that is the journey I am on now. Acknowledging my life experiences, talking about the things I used to hide because they didn't match with people's perceptions of me. Taking on small life missions to meet myself and get to know myself. Lean into being myself and learn to support my wildest dreams.
Stories about me growing up as an undiagnosed autistic child in a neurotypical world, leaving home at 15 on a fully paid scholarship, choosing to drop out of college three times, being diagnosed & misdiagnosed by healthcare systems, my personal battle with complex post-traumatic stress disorder + other mental health diagnoses (like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder), what my world looks like because I can see sounds and taste colours (I have synesthesia!), finding my way to design, art & photography, and now... stories of being a hooman employee to a pawfessional cat.
Looking back, I can tell you I have had an extraordinary life, and probably will continue to do so. Thankfully, none of these are tied to performance or achievements. I have now come to believe that I don't negotiate the value of my true belonging and self-worth with the world. I believe each person is extraordinary because we're all made unique.
And so, I am extraordinary. You are too. *hugs* (Maybe you needed to hear that this week, it's been a rough week all around)
This year I'm making a commitment to journal in public. It may not be very frequent. This is not a grand tell-all about some secret life I've led (lol, wouldn't that be quite something?). This is part of my personal creative practice to follow through on my commitment to being myself in all areas of my life with play and reflection.
Somewhere along the way, I felt my desire to write a book. But I have no clue where to start. So journalling in public is where I will be practicing, sharing, and inviting you on this journey - hopefully, you discover some things about yourself along the way.
Eeek, now that I've declared publicly that I will journal I have to follow through on it right?! :D Fingers crossed, you keep your fingers crossed too.
Do you have a personal journalling practice? What has been your journey? How do you journal? What are your favourite tools (analogue or digital)? Do you have any recommendations to make journalling easier for me? (I can feel fear in my heart >.<)
Until next time, thanks for staying with my words. <3