on bravado & expectations

so, i have decided to test myself by joining blogher’s nablopomo challenge.  essentially, you are supposed to post every day in the month of november.  they offer writing prompts to help you from getting total writer’s block – so, we’ll see how this goes.  can i find enough focus to find something to say every single day?

today our writing prompt is ‘when was the last time you did something brave? what happened?’  so here i go…

in a previous life, i cared a lot about what people thought of me.  the clothes i wore had to be just right, the car i drove, the house i lived in, the job i had – you get the point.  i was totally into keeping up with the joneses.  of course, though, i never actually had all of the things that i thought would make my life complete.  i never had all the right clothes, i never drove the car i really had wanted, and my house was good on the outside but a lonely, sad place on the inside.  i grew to fixate on the things that i coveted and ended up creating a sort of alternate personality to disguise how i really felt about my life.  i wanted to be someone i was not and, at that point in my life – no one liked me.  even i didn’t like me, although i pretended i was better than everyone else i knew.  it was all part of the game.

i did finally get myself out of that life.  one might even say that was one of the bravest things i’ve ever done but, that was easy compared to what came next.  you see, the funny thing about bad habits is that, they often become our mentalities.  you know that involuntary function – force of habit?  well, that’s how all that works (at least for me).  you do something a certain way for so long that it’s how you begin to live and breathe, and it leads to a tedious path to get back to stasis.

how does any of that make me brave, you might wonder.  i guess it really doesn’t.  the brave came from the aftermath.  when i finally had the epiphany that none of it mattered.   it didn’t matter if i had a high paying job in the field that i got my fancy degrees in.  it didn’t matter if i wasn’t driving the newest, flashiest car.  it didn’t even matter if my shoes weren’t super stylish.  none of it mattered.  and with that came the stark realization that – i didn’t owe anyone anything.  i owed no explanations to how i chose to live my life.

with that, i started wondering what really did matter to me.  i have come to the conclusion that i have responsibilities – pay the bills, return borrowed monies, keep the kids in proper clothes with the supplies they need, keep everyone fed, keep the family as happy as i can keep them, try to have a minimal impact on the earth, and mostly – stop worrying about the joneses (because, who are they to define what true luxuries are anyway?) but, that was it.  i have to care about my responsibilities, but i don’t have to care about the expectations of others.

so, bravery, for me, came in allowing myself to begin to be thankful for the world around me.  for seeing the good in what i have and to stop longing for things i didn’t.  can i tell you that i don’t still daydream about future goals and aspirations – of course not.  you do still need things to strive for in life.  bravery was allowing myself a bit of a paradigm shift.  to stop thinking that i had to prove something to everyone.

it’s all a work in progress (perhaps i should keep that blog title, eh?) and it is going to take me a while to truly come to terms with and fully jump on board.  i still get a pang of jealousy when i see people with fancy vacations or perfect, brand new kitchens – don’t get me wrong.  it’s just now, i’m learning how to accept that i am enough.  what i have is enough, to live within my means – both financially and emotionally, and that it’s okay to not want much more.



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