Falling off the ladder and climbing back up: my story.
Before I begin, I would just like to say that all I am doing in this post: is sharing my story. Telling myself I was unimportant, not significant enough and didn't matter wound me up to where I got to at Christmas last year. And no one should feel that way! "It doesn't matter what you think!"
"No one cares about you and your feelings! You have to do this!"
"People expect this of you!"
"You're the 'wonderfully weird' and crazy Talb! You can't do anything less!"
"You can't go back! You will have failed and everyone will know about it! It will haunt you forever and you won't be able to do it again!"
Could you imagine saying these things to your friends? Your family? No? Well then why do we believe it's ok to say these things to ourselves?
July 2013: I had just arrived in Florianópolis, Brazil. I was 2o, and it was my first time in the country. First time travelling to another continent alone. After travelling for over a day, some very late communication with my landlady about pick up times and finally being shown my flat. I had the wifi code, collapsed on my bed and cried to my family over FaceTime. What. Had. I. Done!?
This was the first time I started to take a look at the way I ran my life.
Throughout that whole year I battled with thoughts of having to get through it as the "strong, crazy, adventurous leader" mixed with "I will fail my mum if I enjoy it and want to stay so I can't enjoy it. I can't leave her alone." "I don't want to miss something really badly again so I can't enjoy it." "No one wants me here." "I don't know if people like me for me or because they know I'm British." Among other not so pleasant thoughts about myself.
I grew up moving a fair bit. So I had learned to never attach myself to places and people. Even things. If you ever need someone to help you clear out your clutter, gimme a call!
But it was one of the ways in which I was scared to get close to people. I had lived with "I am ok alone" and "everyone leaves/I will be leaving soon, so why bother caring/getting to know them?" subconsciously for years. Even now I am still trying to kick these patterns.
Online and in person.
Yet I am actually an openbook. Ask me anything. I am still learning that sharing your actual feelings are just as important to people and that it is ok to express them.
Christmas 2015: I was in my mum's kitchen.
I hit my rock bottom. I ran out of emotion. I hated my job and felt stifled by it. I felt like I had no real relationship with my family. I didn't know what to say to my flatmates. I didn't want a future. It was a black whole of nothing after June 2016 that I couldn't see. I was hopelessly upset that I didn't know what I wanted to do. I had no plan for the first time in my life. I felt like I had no friends. And I because I had built up the image of being 'the strong one' for so many years, I felt like I couldn't show it. Not in person. Not online. All I felt was rejection and hopelessness.
She recommended I sign up to the Landmark Education. I think she might have thought I wouldn't do it. Maybe because of the price or because I did it as a kid and didn't really learn from it at the time.
But I did it. I hated feeling SO awfully about myself. I hated that I wanted out of my own life. Who else could I be?! I couldn't even look at myself in the mirror. I was suddenly having panic attacks on nights out, in big crowds and on the bus. I even felt them coming on at work sometimes.
I signed up for the February Forum.
Present day: I feel a bit ill thinking about it all again. And sharing it. There's something inherently weird and taboo-ish in sharing your weakness as a human being. Like we mustn't do it. However I have gained so much and turned so much around in my life from doing it. And now I have never felt stronger.
I worked through my childhood feelings of abandonment. My adolescent memories of being bullied by my peers in two schools and picked on by at least three teachers in another for being quiet/nervous/English/unable to understand my classes/from a Christian country and living in an inherently Catholic one (Spain). Being catcalled and wolf-whistled by men in cars from around the age of 12. Playing myself down for about ten years in order to be accepted by others. Battling through years of contradicting actions of overworking myself but being too scared to work enough. Isn't it crazy what we'll do to feel accepted!?
Already I'm bloody terrified of what you'll think once I post this.
**Elton John's "I'm still standing" just came on on my Spotify shuffle haha!**
I guess that sums it up really. I'm still standing, and better than I ever did. I hardly recognise the scared girl from before.
I stand as a strong woman with a handful of stories and no where to hide.
Sure I still get anxious, but I'm catching it quicker now.
My commitment to you is that I will not hold back on being me. I am a leader and explorer. I am blunt and I speak my mind. I am honest and I listen. I dream big and I go for it. I love people and I don't hold a grudge. I am positive and I see opportunity in many things. I am independent and loyal. The list goes on.
My commitment to me is that I listen to myself. Life is not about building up your CV, about attaining the perfect job, other half, life. That is a survival technique. My commitment is to live my life, and in the way I want to. I have taken responsibility for living my best life and now I am making plans to live it. I am so much more at ease for the first time in nearly 24 years. It's wonderful!
One big lesson I've learned in life is the importance of asking for and accepting help. I would say the strongest people I've met are the ones who are open to it. The ones who will never shut off and say they're right. I've mentioned it a couple of times in what I think makes a good leader as well.
I wanted to share with you, in the hope it might be of a little comfort to you and your journey.
What's crazy is I always thought I would have my life together by now. Graduated, in a job for life, strong relationship, dog and thinking about a house. Looking back I guess that's one of the many reasons I was so at a loss all these years. Because I couldn't get these things! (Well, apart from the graduation bit). I put a lot of pressure on myself to live the perfect fantasy.
But d'you know what? I don't want that fantasy anymore!
By accepting coaching from Landmark (I am now three courses and one set of seminars down), by working through my past and being willing to open myself to other ways of living, right now a secure job for life feels suffocating, marriage means nothing to me and having my own house seems like way too much adulting to be dealing with. I would love a dog though but considering how much travel I want to do, even that wouldn't be possible right now!
I hope this helped a little in understanding that you are never alone, and know that you should never hold back from being the real you. Who you are is who you are and that is perfect.
Have a wonderful Friday!!