the stand

UjYF

Area of self-growth: standing up for myself.

Self-awareness is a constant choice, and I am a strong believer that there will never be a point in time when we have ourselves “completely and thoroughly” figured out. In actuality, those I see who think they do, end up blinding themselves to the deeper crevices of their inner selves. Sometimes I feel the temptation of falling into that trap. But then I encounter another aspect of myself and I realize, yet again, I have so much to explore. So much growth to do.

After talking to my friend on the phone today, I realized something about myself: although I am a strong advocate for others and passionate about speaking out for those who are oppressed or do not have a voice, I am horrible at being my own advocate. The voice that comes to my head is, “Well, I don’t want to step on any toes. I don’t want to make them angry and make waves. I’ll just go along with what they want. I’ll focus on making them happy.”

After coming to this realization, I began laughing, because I teach and encourage others all the time about the pure necessity of advocating for yourself, but then, I cannot do the same for others. I think of Maya Angelou, and how she asserted that we must not only give our teachings to others, but actually live those very teachings out in our lives. And the truth of the matter is, there’s still a part of me that seeks approval from others, that worries about what other people are going to think, and pressures me to just “go along” with whatever they want. After getting this puzzle piece, it became a lot clearer to me why I was feeling frustrated and resentful of others. Or why lately I’ve gotten triggered by people in my life… the common denominator being that despite their good intentions, they keep pushing me to do something I do not want to do, or think “their” way, even when I verbalize what I feel is right for me.

I’ve become angry, frustrated, annoyed by these people, because I’ve spent my whole life going along with what people wanted and doing what they told me to do, at the expense of myself and what I desired. I get pissed off, because I know what’s right for me, and instead of hearing me, people keep forcing me to “see it their way” because “it’s the right way”… forgetting that the “right way” is a relative concept. I just want to be and do me, and I’ve let other people push me around to benefit themselves. I think of Sara Bareillies’ song lyrics: “All my life, I’ve tried to make everybody happy while I just hurt and hide, waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide.

Which brings me here to present time. Although I’ve learned to rally and support a healthier way of being for others, I have not yet let it soak in my own life. Instead, I am brewing in my anger and frustration of all those years of people not hearing or listening to me, and pushing me around. But I need to start advocating for myself. I need to start speaking out for my wants and needs, because that is my responsibility, and mine alone. No one will tell me it’s my turn, and if anything, many people will take any opportunity to control you. So, I need to start owning myself.

I can’t make my life about people-pleasing anymore. I’m so tired of the anger and resentment I constantly feel, and I see now that the only way to change that is to start pushing up against people, step on a few toes–if that means standing up for myself and owning my identity. I’m the one who has to live with the consequences of my choices. So instead of letting other people call the shots without any consequence on their end, I need to start taking the wheel of my life. And not be afraid to say fuck you to those who try to take it from me.

As Sara Bareillies sings, “Who cares if you disagree? You are not me. Who made you king of anything? You dare tell me who to be? Who died and made you king of anything?

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reaching your potential

                          814

Are you squandering your potential?

This question reverberated through my mind as I was driving home on my last day of class. Sometimes we forget to see our potential when we get locked onto the past or even the present.

An epiphany had hit me. Memories fell out of my subconscious and onto my lap, forcing me to see the truth. I’ve been squandering my potential.

Like when I turned down a scholarship program. Or when I downgraded myself to certain part-time jobs because they were easier to get, rather than reaching for the ones that fit my experience, yet much harder to obtain. Or when I settled for dating men I didn’t feel much connection with, because they gave me attention. Or all of those times during my adolescence I never told someone how I felt and kicked myself long after with regret. Even with my attending a Master’s program, I always felt like a big fish in a small pond. My professor swore that I would’ve attended a Ph.D program.

As I sat with these choices, I began to see the common denominators: I did not believe in myself, or in my potential. I only saw the worst of me, and took that as truth. I was scared of change. The unknown. My fears had been ruling over me, taking control in more ways than I could imagine.

The truth was initially hard for me to swallow. But I told myself that this was a disillusioning antidote I had to take. I’ve been taking the easy route. Settling for small successes had been easier to me than choking down the possibility of huge failures.

Lately, I have been feeling dissatisfied with myself and my life… and I finally realized why. Contrary to what I believed I was doing, I was not living up to my potential.

I wholeheartedly believe that each of us are gifted in an infinite amount of ways, holding our own seed of potential. One person is not better than the other, just different… just as we see a myriad of flowers in the large garden, each holding their own kind of beauty. For most of my life, I saw myself as a tiny, negligent bud that no one gave much heed to. But now I see that I didn’t give myself a chance to grow, to bloom. Sure, I may have grew up in desert with minimal nutrients in my life, but I’m still here, alive, with a frantic need filling my chest, pushing to burst and bloom with all and everything in me. I want to live me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one. I bet there are others out there too who have felt just like me, telling themselves that they don’t have much to offer and they don’t have any potential. But those are all lies. You do have potential, and beauty. You just need to give yourself a chance. Maybe all of this time, you haven’t, and believed the lies some people told you. But you need to ask yourself if you are living the life you’ve dreamed of, that aligns all the way down to your inner soul… or if you’ve only chosen the easy route. Perhaps out of fear, or not realizing that you could do much more than what’s been in your comfort zone. But by taking the easy route, your potential never comes alive.

I now have my Master’s degree, but I have to keep going until I feel my vivid petals bloom fully and every inch of me touches sunlight. Even if it means having to face large failures. I don’t want to be dissatisfied with myself anymore, or keep feeling like I’ve settled. I have a lot of “ambitious” goals on my plate right now, but I’m sick of squandering my potential.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote: Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living. All those could bes are heavy. Don’t let the weight break your spirit and soul. Believe in yourself. Become all that you have the potential to be. Don’t let anyone hold you back, not even yourself. Live the life you’ve dreamed of.

perks of being sensitive

After recently (and really, throughout my whole life) having been criticized for being “too sensitive,” feeling “too much,” and letting emotions get to me, I’ve gotten to a point where people’s words have stuck to me and become to sound like my own. Without thinking, I’ve started to beat myself up for being the way I am, for caring, when everyone says I just shouldn’t. Suck it up, Anna, and stop being so sensitive. Why do you let yourself react and feel? The sad part is, I didn’t realize I was doing this until I came across this quote:

I used to dislike being sensitive. I thought it made me weak. But take away that single trait, and you take away the very essence of who I am. You take away my conscience, my ability to empathize, my intuition, my creativity, my deep appreciation of the little things, my vivid inner life, my keen awareness to others pain and my passion for it all.

Even if everyone around me looks down on my sensitivity, in reality, it’s one of my greatest strengths. And how wonderfully validating that is to hear. 🙂

watchword of the week

                             pblue

There has been a myriad of challenges occurring in the past week, my old wounds and pains getting triggered left and right. Even as I write these words, I feel an intense weariness, and a persistent need to let out deep sighs from the weight of it all. No one needs to tell me life is hard, as I am well acquainted with that fact, but when there are days or weeks like these and I am tested to my very limit, I fear breaking underneath all the pressure. I fear going back down again.

But after speaking with my professor and mentor, one word he said stuck to me: integrity. If you are to say that integrity is what you live by, then it means adhering to your values, even when you’re shaken and pushed down by others. It means choosing good over easy. It means taking on courage, because you’ll sure as hell need it in the face of social pressures, your inner demons, and all those who are looking forward to seeing you relent and fail.

As Barbara De Angelis elaborated, “Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.

So, with these things in mind, I will not just speak lip-service, and instead live up to what I preach. I will stand strong and not allow the outside world shake me in who I am, and the values I live by. I will continue to live by honesty, love, faith, authenticity, and integrity, no matter what situation I am placed in or who I have to face… because each battle carves out my true character, and yields me greater strength in my success.