I am M E and Y O U are Y O U
Heads up: This is a deeply personal post. Like...I'm about to get reallllyyy real witchu. And you know what? I'm not nervous, or scared, or self conscious. If people read this and think of me differently, I'm okay with that. I'm solid no matter how people perceive me. Vulnerability no longer intimidates me like it used to. Part of that is because I have the best, most supportive people in my life (including you!). But also - I've made peace with what I'm about to share with you! True, lasting peace. I feel solid and great and compelled to share my story to hopefully help others achieve that peace too.
That doesn't mean I'm going to bare all - a girl's gotta have some secrets! I personally feel there's a time and a place to share your story/stories. Ideally, you'd have a purpose (seeking comfort in a confidant, inspiring others, relating to others, etc), so hopefully you find value in this tell all I'm about to throw down.
Okay, okay, enough prefacing...
Like most people - especially girls - I have insecurities. Earth shattering, I know (stop eye rolling and stay with me, this isn't my big reveal!). It's part of the human experience. I accept that and just love myself through them anyway, refusing to let them hold me back. I vanquish them by fully embracing them.
But it wasn't always like that. One insecurity in particular was my feeling of inferiority regarding my sister. If you know my sister, Brooke, you obvi know how stunningly beautiful she is, and fun and talented and and and and... She is a total dime piece.
It's a wonder we're so close, because we're polar opposites. She quickly decides, I slowly analyze. She hates working out, I'm gaga about fitness. She's the comfort queen, I suffer for fashion. And on and on. We're three years apart, so back when we were growing up, after elementary we never attended the same school, which allowed us to form our own identities - and those identities were pretty different.
Then came college, when we officially became peers. We started hanging out with each other, running around with the same people...and dating within the same circles. If you have a sister/close friend, you know this can get messy. Luckily there were only one or two guys we mutually liked (draaaaama drama drama).
However, I soon started to feel swept into her shadow, which soon became a prison for me. I felt like she was prettier, smarter, funnier, better...and I felt like a L O S E R in comparison. Slowly I started to retreat into myself, and acted like I felt. My vibe started getting lower and lower and would just radiate that low energy. I hated going out with her, because I would feel like the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend - go watch the movie - it's cheesy but I love it!).
I'd brace myself for the inevitable, "Your sister is so beautiful/cool/fun" comments, each one like daggers to the heart (I know i know - dramatic much?). Honestly though, I physically felt each casual comment like that. I can't tell you how many times I left outings early, feeling so dejected and insecure. I realize that merely reading about my experience may not impart the same severe despondency I felt but y'all - it was absolutely GNARLY. Let's just say it was a pretty sick workout journaling all my feelings! (And before I go further, I want to note: I LOVE MY SISTER. Anytime I would vent to her, she was incredibly loving and supportive.)
It went on like this for years. I was a slave to my insecurity. Anytime someone would hit that nerve, I would immediately react, usually emotionally and harshly. Brooke is pretty vocal and outspoken. I can be too, but my natural instinct is to balance dynamics, so when I'm with her I'm usually quieter and more reserved. This further fueled the fire, leading me to feel even more like a supporting actress to her leading lady. I remember getting so upset when people would constantly refer to The Paper Doll Boutique (the store we used to own and run together) as Brooke's business. Sure, I understood that much of what drove that assumption was Brooke's physical and vocal presence. She was manning the store during the day, welcoming customers and handling much of the admin issues. I was only there in the evenings, after finishing up at my full-time job during the day. Plus, you definitely know when Brooke is in the room! She's fantastic at meeting and relating to people.
One of the final straws was when I was talking to a colleague friend of mine (at my full-time job) about wanting to ask our store's landlord for something. This friend advised having Brooke ask the landlord instead, because Brooke has the looks and charm to make it happen. As you can imagine, this made me feel less than stellar. After the colleague sensed she'd hit a nerve and tried doing damage control, I confided I understood she meant no harm, but it was a sensitive topic for me. Still attempting to mitigate the damage, she added, "I know it has to be hard growing up under her shadow and never feeling like you're enough. One day that won't matter that you're not as charming or pretty." (Again - she honestly meant no harm.)
It finally clicked for me: it wasn't about me at all. I knew my friend had a parallel experience with her older sister. She was viewing my situation through a lens tainted by her own insecurities. She was seeing herself in me. Anything she was telling me, she was essentially telling herself. IT WASN'T ABOUT ME AT ALL. I'd already known on an intellectual level that people's interactions with and perceptions of you are colored by their own issues and self doubts. Somehow - that kick in the gut really solidified that truth for me.
I decided to work on reclaiming my confidence and power I'd given away all those years. The truth is, I let myself feel inferior. Trust me, I'm not criticizing myself - I acknowledge this with a full amount of love and compassion toward myself. But the bottom line remains: I have power over my thoughts and emotions. I have SO MUCH to offer, and I was wasting it by losing myself in comparison. I was determined to reignite my spark.
Okay, I'm about to get all Tony Robbins/Oprah/lovey dovey on you. You still with me? Each one of us has a sparkle to share with the world. I 100% believe that and am desperate for everyone to know that too. And I mean, REALLY know that - to your core.
It's alarmingly easy to become consumed by comparison, especially with the social media highlight reels we're ambushed with on the daily. I'm constantly having to bitch slap self doubts that try to slither in my thoughts: "Oh, she's so creative. How did she execute that? She's so much more skilled than I am.." "She's a friggin' business prodigy, and she's only 22? Wish I would've been that astute at that age." "She's a millionaire before age 30? Dayumm, how would that be?"
The more watchful and protective I've become over my thoughts, the more agile and adept I am at keeping them happy and pure and free of dem low vibez. I've conditioned myself to be GENUINELY happy for others' success and blessings, without feeling like it diminishes my own. "That guy has a thriving business and blissful relationship? THAT'S AWESOME!" "That girl has legs for days and a contagious personality? What a babe!" Their success is not my failure! I've learned to view the world through an abundance mindset (more on this in a later post). There isn't a finite amount of money/success/blessings to go around. Yo - we can A L L be happy and successful and beautiful! There's plenty for all of us. What a concept!
So let's celebrate our differences. Celebrate ourselves. Celebrate EACH OTHER. We can all rock at the same time!