I used to apologize for everything, probably even my very existence; as if everything I did was wrong; a mistake. I guess it makes sense as I only recently realized I’d felt like I was a mistake most of my life. Though I finally understood and got past it, the feeling had a major impact on my life, and in a way, still does.
I’ve always been rather rebellious, though less than my parents wanted me to believe, and far less than I could have been were I to shake off the ties that bound me for so long earlier than I did. I followed the rules—to a point. I got away with things—also to a point. Overall, I played it safe, a choice which even now haunts me a bit. Slowly but surely I took more risks; some planned carefully, but most, not so much. To be honest, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for several years now.
Owning My Choices
What I gained was a willingness to accept consequences or triumphs, whichever I got, and to take the lesson and leave the pain behind. My attitude didn’t happen over night. I had to fall a few times, and get up each time before it finally sunk in that I could and would get up every time, no matter how hard I fell.
In the process, I’ve learned to own my actions; my choices. I’m responsible for everything I do and reap both the consequences and the rewards. Most of all, I owe no one an explanation for my actions and choices. They were mine to make, and the results are mine to own. No apologies, no excuses.
The lesson didn’t come easily. It was too easy to hang my head and apologize when I didn’t measure up to what I thought were someone else’s standards. Of course, I realize now, it was merely my perception of their standards, as how can we really understand someone else’s expectations. Like ours, they’re influenced by so many factors, and can change in an instant when something in their environment shifts.
Wasting Effort on Other Peoples’ Happiness
I was fighting a losing battle, trying to keep other people happy but I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t recognize the futility. I only saw myself consistently failing to measure up; to meet expectations set by everyone but me.
What a revelation it was to realize all these years I’d wasted trying to please everyone except the one person it was truly my job to please—ME! It was as if the entire world had dropped off my shoulders! I was no longer chasing something I’d never be able to catch. Instead, I got to chase my own dreams—something I truly believed in and wanted with all my heart.
Driven by Passion, Not by Fear
It’s a funny thing about passion. While it may drive me to take risks I’d never consider if passion hadn’t finally taken the wheel of my life, it also keeps my dreams in sight, even when my conscious mind can’t quite see the manifestation. Yet passion lets me take things one step at a time, and doesn’t beat me up when it’s taking longer to get “there” (wherever “there” is) than I’d planned.
Passion doesn’t ask for explanations or excuses. It simply continues to shine, lighting the way, and waiting patiently when I stumble. It doesn’t dim my vision, or give up on my dream. It understands there will be times I feel discouraged and will question whether or not to keep going, and it supports whatever decision I make.
Holding the Dream Loosely
It’s been nearly 6 years since I turned my life upside down. I’ve written a lot of words, some of which actually form a coherent story. I’ve moved in and out of a couple of different social circles, and continue to do so, trying to figure out where and why I fit. I’ve been shot down a couple of times, and allowed it to make me stagnate for a little while—but only for a little while.
My overall dream hasn’t really changed though. It’s evolved, and become more detailed. It’s aligned me with some like-minded people. I’ve learned from a few, and let a few go who were teaching something which didn’t fit with my own vision. None of them were wrong; they were just wrong for me.
I’m learning following my passion is a process; an evolution. The closer I get to my dream, the more I learn and grow. Some aspects might change when I get closer, but the bigger picture remains the same. The changes come in the details, and those are easily altered. I change in my attitude and confidence as I realize those dreams are achievable.
Clearing the Clutter
Recognizing and accepting I’m only answerable to myself was perhaps the biggest change of all. It wasn’t an “Aha moment” though. Realization came slowly as I shed a lot of old baggage: unexpressed grief and blame over my parents’ suicides, beliefs that no longer serve me, trying to fit in by changing who I am.
In short, I cleared out the cobwebs and old file cabinets in my mind to make space for the dreams I envision. I had to clear both the mental and physical clutter to make room for those dreams. In believing they weren’t possible, I’d filled the space with nonsense so I’d have an excuse to stagnate. As long as there was no space or time to fulfill the fantasies in my head, I had no responsibility to make them a reality. Yet the only one to whom I didn’t apologize was me.
Committing to Myself
Perhaps my greatest lesson was in committing to myself as single-mindedly and whole-heartedly as I’d committed to other people; partners, parents, employers, false friends. Once I turned all my committing skills inward, my world opened up like a blown rose, it’s petals soft and brushed by dew, swaying softly in the breeze.
Now I honor that commitment every day. I write, I walk, I read, I take time out to cuddle my cats, and I indulge myself in some kind of self-care every day. Some days it’s the gym, others, I’ll sit on the front porch when the sun has set and the night air is cooler, communing with my barn cats, the night birds, and the bats. Most days, I meditate, though not always with my eyes closed, sitting in one place.
Like everything else in my life, the operative word is flexibility. No longer do I commit to a hard and fast schedule. That was someone else’s rules. It doesn’t suit me, so I exclude it from my life. I tossed it out with apologies. I’m happier since I ejected such things, and my creativity is thriving as a result. I couldn’t ask for more.
A Daily Practice: Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful I’ve learned to commit to myself.
- I’m grateful I’ve learned I’m enough, and disappoint no one for following my own heart.
- I’m grateful for increased creativity and productivity.
- I’m grateful for supportive friends and colleagues.
- I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, creativity, inspiration, motivation, friendship, support, love, joy, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward