By Tiffany A. Potter
Well, loves, this month marks our 25th month together. Three Januarys ago was my first column, my very first foray into being a columnist. I had no idea what I was doing, probably still don’t really, but you continue to invite me back month after month. Thank you. I promised myself in the beginning as I was sitting down to write that first column before any of you knew that I even existed, that I was going to show up for you to the best of my earthly ability, every single month. I set the intention to be as present as I could be, to speak my truths and hold nothing back because you all deserve at least that much. And while I have heard whispers that what I say in this space means something to some of you (thank you for that), my hope has always been to inspire through being an example some sort of bravery in living your own truths, in owning your journey and all the raw and sometimes scary feelings that come along with it. Because your future, selfishly, my future. . . our future as a collective depends on each of us showing up and living authentically.
Four months ago, I turned 40 years old. 40! And while I still feel as though my mid-twenties were just last year, I must be honest with myself that I am, in fact, 40. Shit.
I’ve never been a big birthday person and this year was no different; there was no fanfare, no big party (or small party, for that matter), no hoopla, no Happy Birthday letter from the President, and I don’t even think I received my free Starbucks coffee that day. It really was just like any other day except that I woke up in a new decade of my life. I’ve said before that, to me, time is a real twister. It moves so fast that I look back over my shoulder and don’t know how I got to this moment in time. But I can tell you this, for those of you younger than me, the mid-life-crisis concept is actually a real thing. While it shows itself in different ways for everyone, it does exist; it’s not just a joke about men who buy a sports car and a hot young wife. This new year for me has forced me to take stock of everything in my life. . . and more importantly, get clarity on who I really am as a human being (which should take ‘til my Golden Years to figure out, I’m quite sure).
I was in my therapist’s office one day a few months back and she asked, “Do you like yourself?’ My answer was an immediate, almost bubbling up of a subconscious answer, of, “Yes!” Not, “Yes!” like I was trying to convince her of my admiration for myself, but more of a humble, happy-to-report, “Yes”. I then proceeded to list the things that I like about myself (which feels braggadocious because we – especially girls – aren’t taught growing up to unapologetically love, honor, and respect the parts of us we like about ourselves). In fact, if I’m honest, prior to this conversation with my therapist I have never recognized, let alone put voice to, the parts of my soul that I appreciate. It was probably the first time in my life that I took the opportunity to think about the good things that make up me. I spend so much time in my head feeling like an outsider, an “other”, from the rest of the world; as if everyone else has everything figured out and I’m behind the proverbial eight ball and everyone laughs at me as I walk out of the room, it never occurred to me to put voice to the parts of me that I consider valuable. It was a nice change from the voice in my head that likes to try and convince me that I’m less-than-less-than all the time.
And then I got to thinking. . . what else do I like about myself outside of the list I initially gave her? Outside of resilient, intelligent, hardworking, doggedly determined, compassionate to every single animal and the underdogs that live among us, my bravery in speaking up when I perceive unfairness, my sensitivity to life and people’s suffering, a fierce and courageous business woman, an artist, a good friend, a lover of words and a lifelong seeker of knowledge in a constant quest to always learn and grow. What other parts of my soul do I consider worthy of positive consideration as much as the negative crap already gets? Of course, I can write lists of things that I consider could use improvement (can’t we all), but for this next year of my life, I resolve to focus more on the good. It will be a conscious, concerted effort to stay mindful of the good qualities I appreciate about myself but this 40-year-old is up for the adult responsibility no matter how foreign it may feel.
I can’t help but think about how beautiful and strong this world as a whole would be if every single girl (and boy, actually) was taught, and encouraged, to truly speak her truths, her worth, and her internal beauty from a young age. What powerful children we as a society would produce. And while I love products that pamper me, the truth is that the beauty industry is funded by a subconscious message that we woman aren’t enough just as we are, that we must always improve, that we aren’t allowed to age, and that we are not validated by society unless our outward appearance is youthful and wrinkle free. We can be total hags on the inside but if we’re beautiful on the outside all seems to be forgiven or dismissed. Maybe, just maybe, if it hadn’t taken me 40 years to recognize and acknowledge the beauty that is me from the inside, the part of me that really matters, I could have saved a ridiculous amount of money on all the lotions and potions that sold me on false promises. Just a thought.
This next year I’m also going to force myself to remember that most all of us don’t have everything figured out about ourselves. The more time I spend thinking about this the surer I am that the majority of us are temporarily renting space in these bodies of ours, completely detached from our personal, soulful Operating System (OS). We’re like the non-cracked iPhone with the adorable protective case that looks good on the outside but is forever full of data that makes you endlessly frustrated every time you try to take a picture and can’t because you haven’t paid attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on how to operate the phone properly. We’re detached from our soul; we spend more time worrying about what our bodies look like to the rest of the world than spending time working in conjunction with the OS that keeps us running smoothly.
So, I’m taking this next year to upgrade my internal Operating System.
Wanna join me?
Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and change agent.
Find her at: www.TiffanysTake.com