“All Beginnings are hard. . . . Especially a beginning that you make for yourself. That’s the hardest beginning of all.” ~Chiam Potok
It is not unusual at this time of the year to see dozens of posts touting an individual’s New Year’s Resolutions; posts about losing weight, finding love, getting their dream job. The list is endless. And while I know plenty of people who scoff at the idea; people who say that making New Year’s Resolutions is pointless and meaningless, the concept behind it is really quite lovely; you are promising yourself a new beginning; choosing the turning of the New Year as a convenient marking point for tracking their progress.
The sad part of course is that most people renege on their promise to themselves fairly quickly. In fact, the same people who will move heaven and earth to keep a promise to a spouse or a child; a parent, an employer or a friend will dismiss their promise to themselves with no more than a shrug and an amused chuckle.
Do we really have so little respect for ourselves that we can shrug away our chance to finally create the life we have always imagined? Because when we fail to keep our promises to ourselves that is exactly what we are doing. We are trading in those things we desire most in the whole world in exchange for convenience, or security or acceptance by those who don’t understand what achieving our goals would mean for our authentic selves.
I have no room to judge the person who gives in to those around them; who gives in to the demands of convention or of society and gives up their dream, for I am guilty of the same thing. In fact, I am more guilty than most. I gave up my dream. I gave up my dreams willingly in the hopes that by doing so I could forget who I was; that I could bury my true self in normality and create a life for myself where I would not only not be hurt any more, but one where I would no longer hurt anyone else.
For a few precious years it seemed to work. I was happy, or at the very least I was content. But it didn’t last.
It was inevitable that one day I would wake up to the fact that burying my authentic self was the biggest mistake that I ever made.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the life I lived; it gave me two beautiful daughters and hundreds of lovely memories that I will cherish forever. What I do regret is that I gave up my true self for the illusion of security and belonging.
It has taken me a quarter of a century to come around to acknowledging my mistake and in taking steps to rectify it; to unearth the true me that has been buried for so very long. Unfortunately she has been kept under wraps for so long that no one recognizes her. Well, no one except those who knew me before I buried her alive. Her resurrection has resulted in any number of problems as I try to explain to those around me that this is who I am. That the person they thought I was all this time was nothing more than a façade; a mask worn to prevent those around me from see who and what I truly am; a choice I made because I was afraid of hurting or being hurt ever again.
Some have supported me in this excavation. Others have fought it at every turn, trying their hardest to convince me that going back to the self they always knew is in everyone’s best interest; especially their own since that person was the one they were comfortable with. But going back to the person I was pretending to be is something I will not do. And if becoming myself means turning their world upside down, well then, so be it. I have kept myself buried for far too long. It is time.
And so it is that I make my own New Year’s Resolution. This year I make a new beginning for myself – for my true self. I will take the steps necessary to free myself from those people and situations that would keep me from being who and what I truly am.
Of course this means that there will be some tough decisions to be made over the next 12 months; some very difficult choices and overall upheaval for myself and those closest to me. But like childbirth, once the process has begun, there really is no turning back. I have made myself the promise of a new beginning, and it is a promise that I intend to keep.
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