I celebrated my 58th birthday the other day, an occasion that is typically a day of reflection for me…maybe even more so as I inch ever closer to a new decade of life. I am finding that with age come some pretty miraculous gifts. Maybe they were always within my reach, but something about the passing of time has brought clarity- really quite a gift.
I feel so much more comfortable in my skin now than I ever have before. I look back at photos of myself as a young woman and feel deeply for that insecure person that I was. I was so worried about what everyone thought of me, afraid to voice my true feelings. Those deeply ingrained fears are still with me, but much more muted now. I feel a strength I never knew before, empowerment when I speak up for my needs. I can still be kind and loving and stand up for myself; in fact, I think it makes me more kind and loving to also love myself.
I have decided that this will be the year of ‘No’ after too many years of blithely given yeses. Too often I have said yes to people who drain my energy, yes to things that didn’t feel right, yes to people who hurt me or didn’t appreciate me. Yes can be a wonderful and loving response; it can also be a prison when given too freely. A no thoughtfully given sets boundaries, protecting us from those who would take advantage of our good nature…and from ourselves.
I am also working on learning to say no to myself. No to fear, no to being anyone’s doormat, no to limiting myself with the constant negative self-talk that has run non-stop in my head for as long as I can remember. I can still be humble and believe in my worth, my intelligence, my beauty as a human being. Being humble and self-deprecating has been so drilled into my psyche as a Southern woman that it is difficult to let go. I shy away from arrogance and over-confidence with all my being. What I’m talking about isn’t arrogance- it is simply accepting my gifts and worth as a human being.
I won’t always make the right decisions; the fear is too tightly wound in the fiber of my being. I’m going to fight like hell against it this year, though. Experiencing the events of this awful past year has changed me. Life is far too short to play games anymore. I want to let go of the shackles that bind me, limit me from being my best self. I have to check myself at that initial impulse to say yes to everyone and everything, examining each situation and trusting my instincts about whether or not to act upon them.
Where will this journey take me? I don’t know for sure; my goal is simply to find peace and acceptance for who I really am, flaws and all, one no at a time. Sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to me.