My therapist made me understand some time ago that the environments we grew up in contribute largely to our individual psychologies. The things that our parents did or did not do, to a considerable degree has affected our thoughts, decision-making and general mental state. This piece of information felt coherent being that it was the missing piece, for years I had been searching for.
Growing up was good but my teenage years ushered the quiet storm in my life. It led me to wear a mask that I believed would protect me but over time, since I did not make the required updates, it created a negative facade of who I decided to be.
I carried a lot of baggage with an awful sense of entitlement, an objectionable amount of maturity and a latent dose of disrespect for a certain class of people. This baggage was not seen by friends or colleagues. They weren’t living with me to see my many shades. I was the girl that was more sensitive and concerned about herself because that’s the default setting I created. Selfish, conceited, were the few words you could describe me with. A number of times, I compensated myself when I was celebrated or commended for the mundane things and was satisfied telling myself I’m doing OK. But, I lied.
I moved to a new place to live for a short time after I told myself the former place didn’t deserve me. After all, I never wanted to be there so I’m glad they told me to leave although in a manner far from respectful. The new place I moved to seemed all sweet and dream-come-true until, by the second month, it seemed the chemical composition of the air in the place had changed. That feeling I recognized came back again. The one where it felt like nobody liked or cared about me. The one where everyone left me to be the boss I showed them I was. I resumed the cycle of looking at everyone as the problem asides little miss perfect. It got really bad at some point. My productivity at work was affected and for a whole week, everyone at my office knew there was something wrong with me but I couldn’t talk about it because I wasn’t sure what it was. I may have guessed its roots but I still couldn’t throw the dart on the bull’s eye.
My boss was gracious and committed to helping this assistant of his get to the bottom of the matter. We had a long conversation where I cried to ease off the burden but my responses were peripheral. In the conversation, he dropped hints that I wasn’t quick to decipher. Sadly, the air in the place I stayed got stiffer and stiffer to breathe. From feeling accused to feeling like I had to walk on eggshells (literally) to the reality of living like I had a thick bubble of fear in my head, I didn’t know how to conduct myself nor manage the situation.
The time came where I eventually had to leave to my own space but I had a strong feeling that some things needed to be sorted out before I move out. Then I approached the moment of truth that seemed like it was waiting for me. This was it! This was the defining moment of my soul’s liberation. This was the moment EVERY mask I wore to supposedly protect myself was displayed to me as wrong, offensive, anti-social, to list a few. My baggage was drawn out and offloaded for me to see the trash I have been carrying and how worthless it was. Instantly, I remembered I had witnessed this offload but in a different way, then I was so emphatic that the baggage was not mine. This time, I accepted this really bad looking baggage. I ran away from it for too long I couldn’t run any longer. This was mine to handle!
The dots started connecting! The last place I lived in, I showed them my baggage but it seems they didn’t believe they had the moral advantage to tell me my baggage was distressing so they left me to believe anything I wanted to believe. Nevertheless, I was glad I knew the truth even though it was smelly baggage to accept.
- I learnt I had to pay better attention to my environment. The main question should be, “What can I do to make this place I’ve found myself a little happier, peaceful, cleaner or generally better?” Service possesses great power.
- I learnt interaction builds You as an individual. Ask questions even though you look stupid, just ask when you don’t understand. DO NOT assume you’ll know what they say. Sometimes, the fact you asked solves the problem. Communication done properly empowers you. You get access to people’s minds for free and understand them better.
- I learnt respect for other people’s territories and boundaries speaks much about your level of respect for others. Acting as you please in Rome comes with great consequences!
- I learnt LOVE is an action word. It's not by just saying it, your actions will be interpreted accordingly when you show it!
- I learnt that unless you agree to change, no one can you change you! You made that mistake to learn from it not to deny it and blame everyone else for it.
Accept your flaws and dare to be vulnerable! If there’s a problem you’re facing, then there’s something you aren’t doing right. Our well-respected lawyer from Tarsus told his friends, “…if possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. It's your responsibility to protect your happiness and peace. It starts with YOU, paying attention to your environment.
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