"Oh, why is the world so cruel to me when all I ever want to be is anything I'm not. Gimme a break a little escape I am so tired of being me. I wanna be free. I wanna be new and different. Anything I'm not." The first time I tried to get sober I lasted six weeks. A cute boy asked me to get a drink with him, to which I declared to myself, "I don't want to be an alcoholic. I'm going to try and have a healthy relationship with alcohol." Well unfortunately, alcoholism doesn't work that way. And my drinking proceeded to get worse until a number of months later I ended up in sobriety again.
And so, from a very young age, I have been on a mission to change myself. I want to share with you an excerpt from my diary that I wrote on July 21, 2014: "Can we create ourselves into the person we want to be? A complete - I want to be this person and so now I am - sort of thing. We all have impulses and habits, but can we decide not to act on them but rather behave in the way this created version of us behaves? I believe if we change who we are, we can change our story. Right now my life is this dark tale of a lonely girl absorbed in suffocating depression. Consumed with overwhelming insecurity and hopelessness. I don't want this story to continue the rest of my life. I don't want to be this sad, insecure girl anymore. I'm tired of hiding from the world. Is it possible that our past doesn't need to reflect our future? Can we recreate who we are? Just pretend to be someone else until we simply are this new person. This is what I have decided to do. I am going to leave all of the ugliness of my past behind and start part two of my life as a new carefully created version of myself."
Over the years, I have written lists upon lists entitled 'What Would I Have to Change in Order to be the Person I Want to be?' In 2012, some of the items on my list were: Follow a healthy vegan diet. Drink less (3 days a week max). Quit smoking forever. Exercise five days a week. Put more effort into my appearance. Watch less TV. Stop judging myself and others. Practice Buddhism. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Stop avoiding people and life responsibilities. Actively practice Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Meditate every morning. Sleep seven to eight hours a night. Study acting everyday. My list from 2013 contained all of the same things (I think realizing I hadn't incorporated any of those changes into my life, I wanted to try again. And so I copied the list and promised myself I would be more committed this time). But now apparently, I wanted to practice Judaism instead of Buddhism and I can now judge other people I just want to stop trying to control them. In 2014 it seems I got a bit more psychological and instead of creating a list of things I wanted to change about myself, I created a list of what this new version of me would look like: 1. She is confident with all that she is and all that she wants for herself. She can do anything. 2. She is free. 3. She embraces the entirety of life. 4. She is like a wave - accepting everything and attaching herself to nothing. 5. She believes in herself. 6. She projects only love, and compassion and understanding. 7. She lives in the moment. 8. No judgement. In January of 2016 I made yet another list, this one the longest of them all, and broken up into categories: Health, Spirituality, Career, Relationships and Personal. I must tell you that mostly everything on the lists from 2012 and 2013 were on this list as well. As I'm writing this blog entry, which is now four years later from when that first list was written and only a few months after the last, I can tell you, as a meat eating, non-religious smoker, who does not drink nearly enough water and often has twenty minutes to throw clothes on and run out the door because I could simply not stop hitting snooze due to my extreme tiredness from lack of sleep, which obviously means I have no time to put on make-up let alone meditate, I have incorporated only one thing from all of my lists into my daily life, and that is drink less, and nothing more. And let me tell you, the lists were very long, I just spared you most of the details because I figured you had gotten the point.
I was consumed with the idea that the world didn't like me. That who I am is not good enough and the only way I can achieve a full and happy life is if I am someone else. I kept trying to be a more appealing version of myself so that I would finally feel accepted in this world. I felt like I was simply existing in this world, and not actually living in it. It was like once I could change all of these things about me, once I could be this thinner, less judgmental, water drinking, confident girl, then my life could start. I can't tell you how many times when I was in the grocery store picking out food for a binge, I would justify my actions with the promise to myself that tomorrow I would start acting perfectly; starting tomorrow I would behave like the idealized version of myself I created. But the thing is, we can't magically transform ourselves into a different person just because we want to. I've proven this with years of failed lists and restarts.
But it here is what I do know, I can love the me that I am so much harder. It's not about changing into someone else, it's about making treating myself with love my priority. I should eat healthy, not because I want to become a more beautiful person so that boys will like me and agents will want to sign me, but because I love myself and I want to put healthy fuel into my body. Same goes with exercise and drinking more water. It's not about meditating so I come across as this appealing new age hippie type who enjoys crafting and making her own kombucha. I should do it because meditation helps me practice mindfulness which allows me to be fully present in this world, and in turn, I can embrace it more fully. I quit drinking because it became a priority in my life and all the other important things slowly began to be pushed aside, and I wanted more out of life then whiskey and hangovers. It's my perception of myself and the world that is off, not me as a person. My thoughts of not being good enough for this world are separated from reality, because in truth, I am just another human being allotted the same opportunities and expereinces as everyone else in this world. But, if I continue to treat myself with so much hate then I am going to fuel that idea of not being enough and it will become stronger. Bingeing, drinking, calling myself names, not exercising, procrastination, isolation, watching TV all day, not going after what I want, all perpetuate this idea. Whenever I would treat myself well, and sometimes I would, I always felt as if I was faking it. That I could never truly be this girl who enjoys green smoothies for breakfast, makes her bed in the morning and journals at night. A girl who wakes up early to pray and believes she has a chance at getting the role she's auditioning for. A girl who lives in a place of gratitude and abundance and doesn't sleep with boys who don't care about her. This could never be me, and so I would wait for this new behavior to end and to revert back to my "true" self. But when I'm behaving this way, when I am doing things that make my heart feel warm, I don't feel uncomfortable in my skin. I can sleep with the TV off because my thoughts don't scare me. I feel at peace. I start to believe in myself. This is who I am. I just don't let myself be her. Because this version of me takes energy. All I every want to do is stay in bed all day with pizza and beer, binge watching Gossip Girl, and every once in a while a cute boy would come in and indulge me with cuddles. It feels like everything else I do is just me trying to be a different person. And for years, I thought that this is who I was. But, in truth, it's not, it's just the only person I've let myself be. If I was truly this girl, then I wouldn't feel so uncomfortable in my own skin. It is just me behaving as a direct result of my negative perception of myself and the world. But my thoughts aren't the reality. They aren't truth. They're just my thoughts. And who's to say I'm right. I don't need to change into someone else. I just need to be the best version of myself. And she doesn't live curled up in her bed, cuddling pizza and hiding from the world. For now, it takes a lot of contrary action, doing the opposite of what I impulsively want to do, to treat myself with love. But the harder I work at it and the longer I do it, the more instinctual it will become. Love yourself today, and I'll do the same.
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