Owning Your Truth, Part II

I have been steadily molting into truer versions of myself (for the most part) for the past seven years, and it started with my health and wellness social marketing business. I started on the self-development path because my mentor and coach advised me to, and I being the eager student, followed exactly what she told me to do and read. I consistently and steadily grew in my business and in my personal growth. For me, one of the most important moments of reflection was when people I had known for years, said (verbatim) “who are you, and what have you done with Alexis?” Before I started this often painful path of self-discovery, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye for more than a few seconds, and my head was constantly down when I entered a room. My goal in life until about six years ago was to be invisible in this world due to my perceived lack of self-worth. Breaking the perception of self-worth in my head was both uncomfortably painful, and even more incredibly rewarding and worth it every ounce of uncomfortableness to achieve. I am more “me” than I ever have been. And it’s been a hell of a journey. It’s a journey I choose to be never-ending because that is when one starts dying from the inside out. I know because when I stopped, that is exactly what happened. I was shrinking back into mediocrity because I felt I wasn’t equipped to deal with the issues in my life at the moment.

So as of today this is what my growth game looks like: my business is growing faster in the past three months than in the past two years; I am out and proud baby; I was in a relationship, and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I am actively putting my many talents and gifts back for the world to see and experience. If I am being completely honest, for most of the past two years I haven’t been allowing myself to be that vulnerable with my talents. I shrunk back into being trying to be invisible, but that wasn’t working either because I knew what it was like to be seen. My integrity was incongruous at best. I am purposefully seeking ways to bring my light into the world. I didn’t realize how much I had let it go out until now.

If you have struggled like I have with identity, self-worth; justifying your own bullshit story of mediocrity; validating yourself to your “peers”; trying to hide your emotions because to not do so hurts too much; the fallacy of being perfect (sorry not sorry), or trying to maintain an image that is not true to you- I am giving you permission to let all of it go. For those of you who don’t understand what I am referring to, that is AWESOME. I am both ecstatic for you and jealous. Because I thought needed permission to not be perfect. I thought I needed to wear a certain cape (e.g. persona) in order to belong. I thought I needed to be stoic because that meant being brave, courageous, and impenetrable to hurt. I thought I needed a certain job title and career to be accepted. ALL of it is bullshit if it does not serve you. And none of it serves you.

acceptance invisible

If I am being honest, I didn’t have much of an active personal growth game for almost two years. In my subconscious mind, my issues were too great. I didn’t know where to start, and I honestly didn’t realize how much of an issue it was until I started therapy. I was hiding. Again. And it was a shitty feeling to start to revert back to being invisible. I went back to being meek, apologizing, self-conscious, and my lack of self-confidence was back in full force. It started with a series of small decisions of not to do. My daily routine of gratitude, affirmations, and personal growth books became less routine, and then non-existent. I started listen to more audio trainings, which as a visual learner is not a good move of efficiency. It was a subconscious; “I don’t want to deal with any of these things right now in a deep way. So I’ll do superficial personal growth.”   There is a book called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, which is basically about making the decision to do the little things that are easy to do and not do. Both add up to big changes consistently over time. It is up to you whether they are positive or negative big changes. In my case, they were negative.

There were some attributing factors to why these things happened, but I allowed them to dictate my life instead of acknowledging their presence and figuring out what to do about it. Whether you know it or not, everything you do is an active choice. Most of the time the choice is determined by one’s threshold for how uncomfortable their lives become. I actively made a change in my behavior because the life I was living had become really uncomfortable, and that is not meant in the working through my shit kind of growth that will cause your life to get better at the end. This was the kind of uncomfortable where I wondered how the frak I got there, and how to climb out of the fire swamp that had become my life.

I am comfortable doing things today that I never thought I’d be comfortable doing. I have never been comfortable in my own skin, and had rebelled against finding out why until about seven years ago. I have never felt comfortable in my own skin unless it was canoeing or out in nature by myself.   Those were my churches. Those were the two communities I found myself accepted no matter how socially awkward I could be, and in those two communities became my refuge, they were my safe place to recharge and where I felt home. I used to say that I am a fundamentally different person than I was seven years ago. I don’t say that anymore. I say that I am the truest version of myself that I have ever been, and I will continue to evolve into being my best self.

come into your own

I feel comfortable enough to own my sexuality to be proud enough of it to be in a relationship, and believe I am worth of it. And unabashedly shout during Philly’s Pride Parade on behalf of my cousin’s church, “you are queer? We are here!” Did I ever think in my entire life I would feel comfortable marching in a parade at all? No. Let alone shouting for a mile with pride about my sexuality (a vulnerability that I used to hide behind), high fiving, and handing out a hundred stickers without feeling self-conscious at all? To have the courage to bond with complete strangers in a city I don’t know because we are really all there for the same reason? Hell no. But I grew to get there. I grew to be the person I am today. And I will grow to be person I am meant to be tomorrow. The growth doesn’t stop. It just evolves to destroy the next barrier inside yourself so you can become the truest version of you ever.

In my experience, the best and worst part of growth is you find out who your real friends are. Some people might not recognize and accept the new you, and fight against it. They might even try to tear the “new” you down with sometimes seemingly innocuous comments that sometimes hurt beyond measure. It is okay to feel that hurt, but don’t let it linger. I like to think of it like a paper cut. It hurts like a bitch when it happens, but is gone relatively quickly and forgotten. The fault is on them, not you. They are fighting against themselves because they are reminded what they could be, but chose not to fight for. Show them what you fought for. Even better, show yourself what you fought for. That is another thing the past few years have taught me. Proving others wrong is a great short-term motivator. Proving yourself right? That is when the magic happens, and when you start to discount the lies you have told yourself your whole life.

Five years: Choices, Gauntlets, and Life

My life can be awesome and hard at the same time. It might be counterintuitive, but they are not mutually exclusive. I absolutely love my life more than I ever thought I could, but it is often hard. Social media is the highlight reel. Real life is almost always different and more complicated.

Five and half years ago I was an environmental consultant. Steady job, decent salary, and it could be quite rewarding. I paid my bills, had money in my savings, and I could splurge now and then on something I really wanted. Sounds great right? A crucial part was missing. I wasn’t happy. I had minimal emotional connection to anyone; smiling was a rarity, and was apparently quite intimidating to people.

courage to grow up

You might be thinking, here it comes. The ode to Arbonne, which has been the catalyst to change my life.  It changed me, it’s always present, and I’m not here to convince you. This essay is more about the ode to my journey to self-worth, acceptance, and getting the fuck out of my own way.

In that time, my self-worth grew and I started to blossom. I went from someone who literally couldn’t look anyone in the eye while speaking to them, to becoming a leader in my business known for my perseverance and gratitude.

There are precious few in my life who know the full truth. Numerous events big and small have taken me from an unfocused mass of metal and forged into platinum that has yet to be cast.  I have been fired, twice. I have had to choose between paying my credit card bill and paying my car insurance. I have had family members die, and have had other family members have serious and almost fatal medical issues. My uncle had a series of strokes that left him with brain damage that he had to retire from dentistry. My friend and I called it “The Gauntlet.”  The medical issues were all at the same time.  It sucked, and our family fought through it.  I made sure to talk to all the doctors and ask the important questions when necessary.  I am so thankful that it didn’t become more serious in one of the cases.

Those times were hard, but manageable. I could do certain things to fix it, and I knew how to tackle the problems. I steadily grew my leadership and myself. Throughout all of that I tackled personal growth and development, and despite all of the shit that was happening I became a much happier and positive person. I developed a core group of friends and I would consider many of them family. I realized I never really had a group of friends like that before. I have deconstructed some of my trust and vulnerability barriers.  I started this blog, and have used it as an outlet that has been powerful for myself and others.  I promoted in my business twice.

All of that progress came to a screeching halt within the last year. It has sucked with a capital S, and the challenge consisted of personal struggle.

Periodically crises are like a ninja where it creeps and builds slowly in the background, and then WHAM! It becomes like whac-a-mole. One problem seems to be resolved, and another one appeared.

fb car pic

My car after the accident

Breaking my codependency, wage loss (partly my fault), traumatic car accident, finding a replacement car, ongoing months of physical therapy (very grateful for), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Good times. The car accident, which caused another layer of PTSD. You can read the details of each by clicking the links. I have broken through on a lot of barriers, but I couldn’t seem to get through these on my own. I started therapy last month because it wasn’t getting any better. I have trust issues, and despite that it’s going surprisingly well.

I thought I had put the issues of self-worth in a time capsule to be revealed 20 years from now and opened up to be like YOU caused all that trouble? Not so much. It decided to resettle in with nagging doubt, frustration and increased the fear. Once I figured out that this was still the underlying issue, it all started to make illogical sense. I didn’t think I deserved success, the apartment, leadership status, or living among the successful.

It’s all bullshit. I have fought on every level to achieve the life I was growing, and I’ll be damned if I let it get taken away. Even if caused by me. Everyone deserves success. Everyone deserves to live a life they love. It should not be a luxury of the rich.

unbecoming

When things got tight financially, I became innovative. In the past year, I started my photography business that I absolutely love. There is nothing like capturing a moment in time for people or a moment in the outside world to live forever. It’s another form of self-expression.

My life is messy, complicated, remarkable, and sometimes painful. I wouldn’t trade it for the life of mediocrity and safety I was living in over five years ago. The difference between my life before and today is choices and a path for something better. I am on my way towards sustainability in life, passions, love, and finances. The true American dream.

 

Heroes and Pedestals

I wrote this friends of mine, and it was asked that I share it.  I agree I haven’t written here consistently lately, and thank you to all of my followers both new and old for sticking with me.   I’M BACK.

Heroes
are
Iconic.

Above
Everyone,
above
Reproach.

Maybe that’s
why I
Never
had
One.

there Are
People
I
Aspire
to be
Like

except

They have
Always
been
People.

Real.

Heroes

are just
like
Us.

They still

Feel

Hurt

Grieve.

they

Often
do
it

Alone.

Self-
imposed

isolation.

for
Us.

and

some of
Us

see
Heroes
as
Us.

We
Love them
and
their
“flawed”
selves
as
They
Are.

People.

because
They
are
Us

in a
Different
period of
Time.

The Push

The last few months I have been living in the status quo.  I have been working my business and my life, but not to the degree I should have been.  More importantly, not to the degree I deserve to be.

Every time I have pushed myself it’s because of something I didn’t really understand.  College I pushed to get a degree, but why?  I went district manager because I had a day to complete something I worked so hard for, and I was going to be damned if I didn’t make it.  I truly don’t know what happened when I completed Area Manager with Arbonne.  It was quite honestly a blur of phone calls, activity, and wonderful mayhem.  Inspired action is the magic word.

Actions in proportion to fear is what determines progress.

This push is different, and it’s different because I realize WHY I am pushing.  In some ways it is worse.  Before, I wasn’t thinking of why.  I was ignorance on fire.  I was focused on the result, which will get you to a certain point.  I did not have a reason of my story of why I wanted something bigger.  It was a different push.  It was an external push, so to speak.  My previous pushes and epiphanies were fueled by grief  and/or stress.

The push I am having now is internal.  I have realized my reason for doing this business, and going for it so big that it scares the living schnikes out of me.  Internal pushes are as scary as any class four rapid, any height (I’m really scared of heights), or any disappointment in myself.  They will push you to the brink, and then beyond if you choose to take the challenge.

I have never backed down from a challenge, and I’m certainly not going to start now.

What’s Your Superpower?

I went to see a speaker tonight named Cornell Thomas, and I had a number of takeaways. The biggest one for me was when started asking my friend about her superpower. Everyone has a superpower that is unique to them, and it’s our life purpose to figure out what that is and to serve the world. His analogy (Cornell’s) was when you don’t use your superpower, it would be like Superman walking to rescue a puppy instead of flying.

Stolen from the interwebs

So what is your superpower? Mine is listening to others, assessing a problem, and applying a solution in a logical and analytical matter. I have known that I was a good listener for quite awhile, and I’ve become aware of my ability to solve other people’s problems. It is something I use quite often at work, with friends, etc. I realized tonight that I could be using it so much more effectively and more powerfully.

Why are we so afraid to identify and use it? It is all about fear, doubt, sense of deserving to be of service (self-deserving), and self-belief. Fear that they think the solution won’t work, and doubt that they will not believe me or that it is possible.   Self-deserving and self-belief are the biggest culprits in holding myself back in most aspects of my life. The self-deserving part is where I deserve to share this gift with people, even if they reject it. The self-belief is my realization that I can change thousands of people’s lives by utilizing my superpower in combination with my story. Not only do I deserve to believe that I will change and impact the world in a real meaningful way by unleashing my superpower, but the rest of the world deserves it as well. I not only have a responsibility to that, but I have an obligation to leave this world better than I came into being.  It’s utterly terrifying, and at the same time, it is one of the most freeing moments I have had.  This is my purpose, this is my life, and it is mine to give.

Amazingly Inspired

I have a friend who at a young age has gone through two bouts of cancer, and some other very personal life changes that should not happen to a person so young.  A lot of people would bow down to that, and have a pity party for themselves.

Instead she started her own personal movement to inspire people to start and end happy.  She made a video that via index cards told her story, and at times tragic story.  She is one of the strongest people I know.  You can google it if you would like, you’ll see her video come up.

Full disclosure, I do not know her very well; I would like to point that out.  However, there are lots of things that inspire me in writing, and watching this woman’s reaction to her life, and the events in her life before and after tragedy is miraculous, awesome sauce.  It is a display of nothing short of pure will, courage, and blind, stupid stubborn (meant in the best possible way).  I do not think she knows how many people she will inspire.  I honestly think her story, her courage, her fortitude will  teach thousands, if not millions of people, to take on their challenges in their own way.  I am not a bullshitter, it’s not in my nature.  I say what I mean, and I do what I say.

Personal Growth and Change

My life is enormously different than it was two years ago.  The reason?  Personal growth.  I have read so many personal growth books in that time, I could start a section at Barnes and Noble.  All of those books I thought were a bunch of new-age, feel-good b.s. (complete with me rolling my eyes at such things).  But, I was WRONG.  They have changed my life fundamentally.

Stolen from Facebook. I don't know who, but I love it.

Stolen from Facebook. I don’t know who, but I love it.

I am a scientist.  That is my background, and essentially my faith.  I love puzzles, I love questions, and I love figuring out how those two things intertwine.

When it comes to personal, emotional stuff though?  I was not so much about that.  I like cause and effect, clear and simple.  Human emotion is not about cause and effect.  It’s about experience and learning.  It’s about applying often the b.s. you’ve been through throughout your lifetime, and figuring out how to get past it to live a better life.

Does this sound familiar?  I have LIVED this life.  The life of hiding, oppressing, and down-right scared life.  Everyone’s life is different.  I certainly do not know your experiences, but I do know mine.  And I think being scared to be someone else, scared to live someone else’s story that you think should be yours, and scared to possibly grow out of that story is real for a lot of people.  It was for me.

Fast-forward to now.  I am happier than I have EVER been.  It was due to discipline, personal growth, and reliance on people close to me.  The last one was a big step for me.  The other two were easy.  Relying on other people, was not.  But it was perhaps the single biggest force in my metamorphosis into being a happy, content person.  Trust others; however hard it may be.

BE YOU.  Even when it is the scariest thing you might ever do.

Epiphanies and Joy

There is something amazing about Realizing things you thought dictated your life story, and realizing They no longer Matter.

IMG_5795356049180

What a freeing thought that is.
And to embrace and accept it as FACT is even bigger.

To be an adult is to be free.  From what freedom that is for you to choose.

Enjoy.
Live.
Choose.

GO!

P.S.  Everyone has those thoughts.  I don’t care how powerful or your title in life, EVERYONE has those thoughts of imperfection.