I hate to admit it, but most of my life was spent trying to please others. I suppressed my creativity when I was young because my mother thought it was weird--so I hid in my room writing stories in notebooks and stuffing them under my bed. I chose a college major based on what was acceptable to my parents--and still they acted ashamed of my choice. When I started training to be a triathlete, my dad laughed and said, "you?" So I stopped. When my husband died and I got job writing a weekly article on single mothers, my mom said, "I don't believe it. You?" When I published my first novel with an actual publisher, they said again, "I don't believe it. They chose you?"
I lived with the "who do you think you are" question thrown at me for as long as I can remember. When I would be upset, I was labeled dramatic and dismissed. Who do you think you are...that's such a horrible phrase when you think about it. It makes the recipient of those words start questioning their true nature. You just want to think you're special...that's another phrase I've heard that made me feel the need to disappear into the wall or play small.
Because I had these beliefs stuffed into my subconscious, I tended to attract friends who also treated me like a joke--as if my work was frivolous and my dreams 'far out.' I still do, at times, find people around me who try to make me doubt my right to deserve success and happiness. I know I'm around that type when I start defending myself--defending my life story, defending my over forty published novels, defending my happiness. It wasn't until I started respecting myself and standing my ground that the blinders disintegrated--and I found myself recognizing toxicity.
I am not sure how I persisted in my creative endeavors, but I did. I kept writing. I kept trying, but still there was this gnawing doubt in my mind of "who do you think you are". How did I continue with the faith to embrace my weirdness when my circle of immediate family and friends wanted me to conform? Something inside me refused to surrender.
When I moved to Santa Fe, I noticed women walking in town with cool hats and a confident stride. I thought, I want to be like them. They were/are artists, scientists, teachers, and explorers. I took a class that first two months of my move about embracing female creativity--and it all came out. All my pain. All the wounds I had tried to hide. When asked why we were in the class, I told the instructor then that I wanted to be like the powerful women I noticed walking on the streets here--because I had come here damaged and uncertain with the phrases, 'who do you think you are' and 'you're so stupid' and 'you just want to think you're special' thumping around in my exhausted brain.
The instructor became my friend and, recently, she said out of the blue, "you did it, you've become." She did not need to elaborate further because I immediately understood. I walk different. I laugh all the time. I wear cool hats. (I wear what I want.) I introduce myself as a creative professional with my chin high and my focus clear. I don't tolerate anyone who treats me like a joke or asks me to defend my way of being. I don't think twice about anyone who has ever treated me as disposable. My adult kids have noticed and sometimes look at me with narrowed eyes saying, "you're different." I like being different. I like not caring what anyone thinks. I am attracted to people who are interesting and diverse.
We are all special. Our quirks make us whole. We all deserve to be treated as such--and, more importantly, to treat ourselves as such and accept nothing less.
Who do you think you are? Hopefully, if anyone asks you that question, you can look them in the eye and tell them to fuck off. You are born knowing who you are! Your soul knows. Your heart knows. Somewhere along the line we can lose touch with that if we are not surrounded by those who embrace our uniqueness.
I may not have a lot of years left on this planet. None of us knows when our time will be up. But I am grateful for the journey that led me to this point--and I am blessed to have finally embraced my weirdness. It's so much more freeing to live authentically me than to pretend to fit into a mold that never fit.
You are you in all your spectacular strangeness. Good for you. Keep it up. Never let someone make you question yourself or your right to deserve your dreams.