For my entire 25th year and half my 26th, I spent the majority of my time tucked away from the world, believing that I needed to work it all out.
Work me all out—heal, change, grow and learn everything I needed to learn—before I could step back out into the world as a new woman: bad-ass, beautiful, confident and deserving.
The lenses I had in the self-evaluating glasses I was wearing prevented me seeing the fact that I was all of these things already.
My hours of socialising were replaced with hours of solitude. It was partly done with the aim of protecting myself from the world—I didn’t feel ready for any more hurts or any more traumas until I’d begun to heal the sharp-edged mountain ridges of all that lay inside me already.
It also gave me a chance to begin to get to know myself on a deeper, more intimate, level.
But tucking myself away was also done to protect the world from me. From me, my flaws and the parts of me I was terrified or ashamed of. I was tripping through acres of judgement for who I was, where I found myself in my life, all that had happened, and where I was going—according to my critics—if I didn’t get my shit together…so it just made sense to hibernate until I had figured it all out.
I believed I could only be back in the world when I was whole and unbroken and there was absolutely no risk of me being a burden or fucking up or being wrong or heading down the wrong path.
I would get glimpses of the person I was becoming, and the change that healing would—and was—bringing me, so I just wanted to speed up the process. The world couldn’t see the messy, in-between stage. It just wasn’t pretty and it certainly wasn’t safe.
I wasn’t safe.
I began to notice that it meant I was depriving myself of feeling part of the world. (This, it turns out, is a pretty key ingredient for a healthy mental-health.) I was depriving myself of showing up however I was in whatever moment it was, out of fear that who I was (wasn’t healed enough; was a too much like the old me; hadn’t learnt enough; didn’t know enough; couldn’t articulate my experience enough; couldn’t be open or vulnerable enough; wasn’t bad-ass enough; wasn’t generous or kind enough; wasn’t easy-to-be-around enough; wasn’t cool enough; wasn’t wise and strong enough; wasn’t able to protect or mother myself enough) basically, I was (supposedly) never enough.
I noticed that I constantly felt stressed and as though I was never living up to my goals—because I wasn’t. I was never being who I thought I should—or could—be.
I’m not sure exactly what shifted it but like with anything, it was a culmination of events. It rapidly began to click that it isn’t a case of me doing it all, learning it all or healing it all, all at once. I can’t just paraglide from A-to-B.
Instead, it is a case of letting time help me find my way too. Letting time be my BFF along this journey, because along this journey is where I grow.
I used to hate the expression ‘time heals’ but now I’m beginning to see that it’s completely true.
I will become the woman I am meant to be, but I am already that woman now. By striving to be her, and by trying to leap through this process of growth and healing and figuring it all out, I miss who I am now. And I miss the magic in the healing that is happening and I miss seeing all the many ways I have healed so much already.
Gradually allowing myself to step out and show up in the world has been—and continues to be—terrifying, messy, confusing and often painful.
I regularly retreat back into my four walls for a stint of hibernation, but I allow myself permission to do that because when I’m back out there, the connections that come are overwhelmingly beautiful and monumentally healing.
My imperfections make me wonderfully human and connect me with everyone else on this planet.
I don’t benefit anyone by keeping them to myself, despite my good intentions.
Hiding away protected me during a time I most needed it, but I deserve to be seen.
So I’ll see you out there, on our own roads, together.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives