By Claire4Clarity, Guest Blogger
"Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was." -Richard L. Evans
A well-placed inspirational quote can make your day. Oftentimes, I start mine by reading Larsen and Hegarty’s “Believing In Myself.” The book is dog-eared, tattered, and worn from overuse, but this does not detract from the content, which is profound, motivational, and inspiring. I needed it more than ever this past year.
In mid-March I found myself sitting amidst a group of women and bawling my eyes out while sharing my experience. We were gathered in a circle in our yearly spring meeting, sharing stories about our lives. Every woman in the room revealed something that helped us to step out of our own world for a brief second. I figured when my turn came I would say something totally generic. However, I was not prepared for my well-placed mask to disintegrate in a matter of seconds.
When I finished speaking, not a dry eye remained among the diverse group. I described the challenges of rearing a child who became ill from bullying, of living up to the expectations of others. Even though I shared many struggles through writing I never ‘truly shared' my fears, anxiety, or stress about the bullying– of how I longed for her to find a sense of belonging and to overcome the sense of isolation that pervaded.
I apologized to those who reached out to me, at one time or the other, and were rebuffed. Since they knew nothing of my internal struggles I could not have expected them to understand my mercurial behavior. In the spirit of the moment I asked for their forgiveness and understanding.
When I was done, I felt weak and drained. I had no idea the moment heralded in a much needed shift in my life's trajectory. Sitting next to me, my daughter was in tears because she never knew of my private pain. She never saw my late night tears. I labored over what transpired at the meeting for days and weeks afterwards.
Larsen and Hegarty captured the all-consuming angst I felt: "it's hard to run a race if you start off in a hole." I guess that day I felt the metaphorical hole in my life opened up and swallowed me whole. On a quest to save myself from suffocating, I reached out to a room full of women I hardly knew. I had no idea of the subliminal effect that stream-of-consciousness moment had in my life. The repercussions from its impact still leaves me dumbfounded. Today, I continue to reel from the consequences of the meeting.
A few days after the get-together, I realized it was time for me to move on from a group to which I belonged for more than 20 years. I finally accepted that it was time to trudge forward on my own. It was time to unfetter myself and live up to my own expectations. They accepted my departure without asking why. Maybe, they felt the shift too; maybe they gave up trying.
Fortunately, hypothetical devastation has not unfolded and my micro-world refused to buckle. No longer using 'the group' as a crutch, I am firmly standing on my own. The world is a precarious place, but I am well-equipped to handle it on my own. I find hope in another quote from Larsen and Hegarty whenever I am dissuaded: "We deserve a new start and we can have it if we stop looking backward."
It is time to live up to my own expectations and not anyone else's.
Let's Chat! In school, work, social life, how do your personal expectations for yourself differ from what others expect from you? Share with us here!
Claire4Clarity is a homemaker who manages her daughter’s online home school program. Occasionally, she loves to lose herself in Korean and Taiwanese drama marathons.
image via MarkandAngel.com