One of the constant challenges I’ve faced over the years has been staying true to my authentic self. My problem isn’t a weakness of character. I’ve got moxie and grit aplenty. I’m a big believer in this woman’s personal growth.
So, what’s the problem then?
It’s Not Me. It’s You?
I have no disputes with the celestial beings for the life I’ve been gifted. In truth, it’s been a damn good one so far and surprisingly interesting. But it hasn’t always been easy. I don’t have a silver spoon in my hip pocket, thus Monday thru Friday I’m in an office accruing vacation days. I was born a plus size Chica with an attitude. I have a weakness for anything sparkly—ranging from come hither glances to sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea or any sunset on any beach. I also have a fierce streak of independence that is the fault of my Apache great-grandmother and the other more exotic women in my lineage. And of course I’m flawed, emotional, a little too passionate at times, and more often that I will confess here, I abandon logical reason. In spite of my foibles it’s not me contributing to my authentic self getting kicked around.
So if not my life, then what’s the problem? It’s complicated. But if life wasn’t what’s the point of breathing? Rhetorical question but if you’re the sort of person with even a smidgen of adventure you’ll seek an answer.
Where it all goes wrong.
A woman’s identity—her authentic self—is remarkably similar to the cliff at the edge of the sea. The waves crash against the surface of that majestic precipice every second of each minute of every hour throughout the day, week upon week, from month to month, year after year. Over time the face of the rock changes. It’s hardly noticeable to the passing eye, but the cliff, like the woman, knows the changes exist.
The Sea of Change
A girl turns into a woman, leaves her family behind, seeks out her destiny, attends school, becomes an exotic dancer, falls in love, falls out of love, says I do, says no more, has children, faces death, succeeds, fails, tries again, and again and yet again. With all those waves of change crashing against her, it’s no wonder a woman’s authentic-self is in a perpetual state of metamorphosis. I suspect it is why so many women wake up one random morning and don’t recognize the woman in the mirror. If not for the hauntingly familiar eyes she’d swear it was a stranger.
The First Step
The braver woman with Xena, Princess Warrior resolve will take up the challenge to find the woman with the spark and grit misplaced along some byway. Note: in some cases the authentic self is severely tarnished, which isn’t as bad as being lost but the same amount of work is required to restore to the original masterpiece.
I have survived both cases. These days I keep a keen eye my edges and the first sign of fraying I sound of the alarms and set about repairing before there is any long-term damage.
Alone on a Deserted Island
It’s embarrassing admitting I not only lost my cherished character, but also allowed it to be damaged especially after admitting I had chutzpah. The reasons why are fodder for another diary entry, but for now I’ll share the necessity for a deserted island. In other words, a daily retreat away from the maddening crowd where you dwell, a journal or computer, and an open mind and willingness to purge.
Rowing Back to Shore
When the waves of change threaten my foundation, I retreat into myself, and the blank page. There isn’t a certainty this will work, but it helps. I have a couple go-to sources, which I refer to as the Z-Pack for anything that ails. The first is Julia Cameron’s, The Right to Write. You don’t have to be a writer or even want to write to benefit from reading a few pages. My favorite for restoration go-to though is The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. Again, there is no requirement for creativity, but cultivating lifelong habits of tending yourself first and always, can only make a person stronger.