Ever since I was a young girl and I was told by a teacher that I was too bossy and outspoken, I have tried to reel that in with little success. It wasn’t until 2013 when I was 30 years old (that is more than 20 years of trying to go against a part of my innate nature) that I started to give myself permission to be authentic. And to not only acknowledge it, but to love that part of me.
It was very, very hard.
My daughter had weaned and I was going through postpartum depression, and I needed to find a way to move forward. I didn't know how, but I started looking. About that time a video made it's way around the internet.
You may have seen this clip ...A young girl giving herself a pep-talk while standing in front of the bathroom mirror.
I had to find things that were special about me and I had to remind myself. I had to find my voice and reconnect with parts of me that I never gave myself credit for before. Part of that was being unsatisfied as someone's employee. It was reconnecting with my bossy innards and shining a giant light on them and saying,
"I love that I can be in control."
"I love that I can do anything."
"I love that I try hard things."
"I love that I am open to change."
Slowly, I added new things to my list.
"I love that I took that scary step and asked for help."
"I love that I am not giving up when it's hard."
"I love that other's opinions of me won't make me stop."
"I love that I will always be different."
And since that time, I knew I would repeat words to my daughter that would start to frame how she saw herself. I tell her now,
"I love that you enjoy spending time with your family."
"I love that you are brave and try new things."
"I love that you want to be a girl that helps, and listens."
"I love that you can try, and try, and try again, even if it's hard."
I have found that there will always be critics. There will never be a shortage of trolls.
"You're not enough."
"Who do you think you are?"
One of the biggest critics, sitting right there along the others in the cheap seats, is me.
So for this coming Valentines day,a day I used to hate and would boast of my superiority over this most-commercial-of-holidays, I'm doing something different. I'm taking Brené Brown's advice and I'm inviting my critics into my arena. I'm acknowledging they are there. I will tell them, "I see you. I hear you. But I'm going to do this anyway, and I'm not interested in your feedback."
Because I am striving to be authentic. I am trying to be vulnerable. Because I value courage, and where there is bravery and honesty, there is love and joy, and as Brené Brown has found, there is wholehearted living.
So with my whole heart, Happy Valentines Day.
Authored by A Swift Doula