From Mel: I have some wonderful stories in the cue to share. This one being as beautiful and transparent as what's graced this space already. When I had Candice arrive to the session I asked her to take a deep breath and to invite her whole self here, to remind all the different parts of herself that she is welcome. This following images and words are what resulted.
I’ve come to the realization that everyone has a story to tell. For years, I’ve kept my own story hidden from most of the world. The only way I told my story was through the power of words. However, no one would see it. Literally tucked away in an old beaten up notebook or scrap piece of paper, I would hide my inner thoughts and dreams from the world, too ashamed to share. I thought, my story wasn’t good enough. Wasn’t worth telling or sharing with anyone. Throughout adulthood, I’ve put on a façade that my life is good and I’m okay. That my depression, self-doubt, anxiety and broken family relationships are minor struggles that no one needs to know about. After all, it’s been years since I’ve really felt (or acknowledged) the pain that is just below the surface.
What draws me to this project is the excitement of the unknown; the opportunity to finally share my own story and begin the pathway towards healing from within. I’ve felt this strong urge as of recently to really discover my authentic self. Not only have I had the urge to discover it, but I also want to embrace and live out that authentic side of me…
Self-awareness is something that I’ve really embraced, the older I get. And, although it is a strength, it is also a weakness—because many times, I find myself comparing and doubting myself against the success of others. I see a successful female in my organization and think, “WOW, I’m not nearly as successful as that person.” Or, I see a photograph of a beautiful person on social media and immediately start comparing myself to what I see.
Just the other day, I was giving a presentation to a group of peers and felt inadequate (although I had all the same credentials and skills of my peers). The tendency I have is to create this dialogue of negative self-talk. “You aren’t as good.” “You aren’t as pretty. You aren’t as skinny. You aren’t what people want to see.” It’s a sad realization that I’ve never quite acknowledged until I really began reflecting.
On the one hand, my being self-aware has helped me fine tune my strengths and really know where I excel and where to improve. However, my self-awareness often times leaves me feeling not good enough, and as a result-- not worthy enough for the good things in life. I’ve made it a point this year to really take time for myself, and dig a little deeper into my soul to find out who I really am. This consists of daily journaling, constant reflection, and putting my true feelings down in words through my blog A Musing Momma that I launched earlier this year.
If I’m completely honest, I don’t think I’ve even given myself the opportunity to be misunderstood or silenced. As I mentioned, I’ve kept all of my innermost thoughts and ambitions to myself for the majority of my life. I think the loudest voice that I need to listen to and learn from is my own. Again, my self-doubt has gotten in the way of a lot of things that I dream to pursue.
For example, I’ve held myself back from applying for a job or asking for a promotion. Why is that? Why do I feel the need to apologize for asking for something I want? I’m beginning to know and really understand that the answer is this: Self-Doubt. Time and again, I’ve let my self-doubt and insecurities stand in the way of pursing my passions.
I grew up with a gap in between my two front teeth. It gave me “character” and made me “unique.” Of course, that’s what my mom, family and good friends would tell me. But, I never really believed it. Being teased throughout my entire life, my physical appearance has always been something I was self-conscious of. In fact, I spent my entire life striving to be as successful as I could be, in an attempt to redirect people’s attention from my physical trait. It’s like I had to be good in every area that I could—to make up for the lack of beauty that I thought I had. So, I spoke at my High School Graduation, I sought out leadership positions within my job, I excelled in college and even pursued my Master’s Degree. Feeling beautiful wasn’t something I ever felt worthy of. Think about that for a moment—I’ve never felt worthy of being beautiful.
It saddens me to write those words out, but if I’m going to be my authentic self, then I must face my innermost insecurities. I compared myself to what society’s standard of beautiful was. To this day, I still struggle with this concept. But, I’m at a point where I am determined to challenge the status quo of what beauty and success looks like.
I’ve got a four year old daughter who is constantly watching me, and learning from me. From a mother’s perspective, I’d be heartbroken if my daughter ever felt unworthy of beauty and happiness. Shame on me if the day comes where my daughter feels unworthy. This points even more to the importance of acknowledging and embracing my own inner beauty.
So, if I were to change one thing about myself, it would be how I feel about myself in terms of beauty, success and achievements. This is a work in process, but it will come from things like being more intentional in my thoughts, actions and beliefs. I will work to readjust my mindset and stop comparing myself to others. I believe that when I stop comparing myself and being more intentional in my thoughts, I can start believing wholeheartedly that beauty comes from within. Only then, will I be able to say “I am beautiful” and truly mean it.
My name is Candice and I am strong, beautiful and worthy.