The difference between the Jen today and the Jen a couple of years ago is pretty simple. I lacked self-awareness. I was walking around functioning at minimum capacity. I may have had direction and motivation to better myself, but I lacked a firm grip on my own reality.
I was cocky, though. Cocky about my credentials, my talents, my paycheck… which is funny to me now. None of those things really matter to me.
I had a tendency to mold myself to others. People I admired or people I wanted to like me. I found a pattern of hiding behind the people I hung out with in order to avoid really giving my life any real thought. I would do what they liked doing, talk about what they liked talking about and eventually I would continuously trick myself into believing this version was the version that ‘fit’.
Then one day I snapped. Too much was happening at once, the walls crashed in and I gave in to the emotional breakdown that was years in the making. It lasted days. During those days there was ugly crying, deep thoughts, long baths and long periods alone. I can tell you from my experience, everything in my life suffered when I was in this state of mind. My relationships, my self-esteem and my mental and physical health.
During that time I finally developed some self-awareness. Being away from all those people you hid behind and sobering up in order to create a life does that to a person, maybe. I realized that I was living my life for other people and have been doing it since I left the nest.
For Example, I became a photographer to impress my dad, because it was his current hobby… that he gave up while I was in boot camp when he took the camera back to Costco.
I got caught up making self-destructive decisions. Hanging out with partiers and heavy drinkers (ie: all Sailors). In the Navy, you are prone to being in situations where tying one on is normal and when you have no tolerance to alcohol disaster will ensue. It is inevitable. I met my husband at the tail end of that decade-long shit-show. The party girl reeled him in and the sober chick with goals and a good soul sealed the deal.
During this process, the minute I became self-aware of a few facts about myself, I started using that information to rebuild myself. I realized I am not a good drinker. I do not know my limit, I have no clue when to stop, I get sloppy, make terrible decisions and then owe apologies that are covered in embarrassment and self-loathing.
I also realized that I was working toward goals that were not really important to me. I wasn’t putting in the real effort it takes to adult properly. I also wasn’t doing things that make me happy, (because I still hadn’t figured out what those things were). I realized that because of my stubborn and superiority complex, I had missed out on too many years with my mom to admit to.
I became aware of my over-analyzing, my anxious feelings, my tendency to blow-up and the fact that what I was putting my time and energy into bullshit.
Self-awareness is a magical thing. Just admitting to yourself where you need to make improvements and realizing what is holding you back starts a journey to a happier existence.
The next step is action; that’s a difference post for another day though!
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