My thinking process has always been ‘outside the box’.
Which is why the photoshoot I had last week for my new website was taken in nature on a lovely sunny autumn day and I wore some funky hippie swag that I like to dress up in — because I’m a funky hippie… there I’ve said it.
And I love, love, love the pictures my beautiful friend and wildlife photographer Jeanine Verbraak at W.I.L.D. took. But it got me thinking… I have spent far too much time and energy trying to prove myself to others.
I remember grabbing my favourite book at the time — Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham — out of my mother’s hands at the age of 3 because I wanted to teach myself how to read and not be read to. For some reason I felt that I had to prove to her that I could do it.
Exactly one week before my 5th birthday, I remember sitting in front of the black-and-white TV in the kitchen watching Neil Armstrong ‘land on the moon’. I was more concerned, however, at learning how to tie my shoes because I wanted to master it before my first day of kindergarden, which was six weeks away. (It only took me a couple of days to do it too!) I had to prove again that I could look after myself.
When I got to kindergarden, I preferred helping my teacher and reading to my classmates instead of fingerpainting, which I could do at home if I chose to. I had to prove to my teacher that I could read better than the rest.
I only ended up at the university I did because my high school guidance counsellor suggested to me that my grades weren’t good enough to get into the college I wanted to attend. Guess what? I proved him wrong and did it.
When I had my first real (non-temp) job as a journalist with a salary, I threw myself into my work because being the only woman on an all-male team, I had to ‘prove’ myself again.
But all this proving myself eventually made me really sick.
Because it wasn’t about proving myself to be better than anyone else.
It was all about accepting that I wasn’t meant to be in a box.
I Can See Clearly Now
It has definitely not been an easy journey from where I once stood.
For more than 20 years I didn’t even own a mirror, because I hated my reflection. There’s even a good 15 years missing from my life in pictures, because I became the one taking the group shots, so as not to be disappointed with the image staring back at me.
Trying to prove myself and fit in other people’s boxes meant that I didn’t even accept my own flesh, which caused such a disconnect it led to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure… the list goes on.
So the pictures from my photoshoot were a real eye-opener for me. For the first time in my life, I can finally see my own inner beauty and wisdom… something others have been telling me they can see, but now I can see it myself!
How refreshing to know that we can continue surprising and loving ourselves even more as we grow older.
So are you ready to begin climbing out of your self-imposed boxes? Or even to cut some holes in it so that you can start seeing the endless possibilities that are seeking your attention? The paths to self acceptance are eagerly awaiting outside of it.