Tuesday, February 11, 2014

First Rate Version of ME

"Always be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else." 
-Judy Garland

I really like that, "be a first rate version of yourself." Isn't that what we're always encouraging people to do? To be themselves? Well, this week I seemed to have had a revelation, an enlightenment if you will, about this particular notion.

I've always felt like I've been true to myself, done things in Julie fashion, but lately when it comes to my work, my creativity, my outlets, just me in general, I've felt a little out of sorts. Something just isn't fitting on me. I'm spending more time worrying about how things look, I look, what I'm doing, but mostly about the future--in other words, I've just been standing in the middle of the road wondering which direction to go next. The worst part is in the process of worrying and wondering, I've nearly forgotten what it is to be me. When you sit in the middle of the road, you have plenty of time to stop, look back at past dreams and when you're done with that, you start looking at everyone else around you. That really doesn't help. Not in the least bit. When you're trying to pick a path or direction for you, looking at everyone else doesn't help because you start wondering if you should follow down the path of all those other people.

Say what? I know, like that sentence, the predicament is a bit of a mess.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm a point in my life where a lot of my friends are making some life changes. Changing careers, going back to school, having babies, moving, buying houses or cars--I mean these are some big changes. Meanwhile, I'm still getting used to my hair style that I changed A YEAR AGO. Seeing everyone, I can't help but wonder if I'm supposed to be making a life change, too. But I'm not really ready, but everyone else is. But I should be...because everyone else is. But I'm not ready...but I should...Do you see the indecisive nature of the position I've put myself in?

I'm driving myself crazy! I've started focusing on everything else around me and in the process, I've gotten myself stuck, rooted in one place, one terrible, awful mindset. I've let myself wear holes in the floor and practically smothered all the creative portions of my brain simply by focusing what everyone else is doing. If I listen closely, I can hear my imagination calling to me from under all that negative junk.

The simple fact of the matter is I'm not everyone else. 

I shouldn't be worried or concerned if I'm doing whatever everyone else is doing. My life is not a standardized test where I need to follow the same directions as other people. None of us are the same.  The choices I've made, even in the last three years, have drastically shifted my life road map. Instead of letting go and getting lost in possibility, I've paralyzed myself in one place by the sheer fear of not keeping up with everyone. 

You know those Dr. Pepper commercials? I feel like I need to make one to remind myself I am one amazing individual. I've got to remind myself that my life is an unique as I am and in doing so, maybe I'll regain what it is that makes me unique.
"Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun."
-George Scialabba

So you're probably wondering, if you've been able to keep up with me so far, "where the heck are you getting all this?" Well, a couple of different things, small issues that kept niggling at me, but the seed was planted about a month ago. 

I heard this wonderful speaker that stressed how important the imagination is, how fundamental it is to life. We need to value our imagination. Gosh, yes! Thanks be to this wonderful person who validated what I knew deep down in my bones. OUR IMAGINATIONS ARE EVERYTHING!

While at one point in time I would have said, "I totally value you my imagination," *insert hair flip* I've come to realize that the older I get, the more adult challenges I hurdle, the more I wet-blanket my imagination and dismiss it. So much so that I feel empty, drained, and unfulfilled in most of my day to day activities. When I try to tap into my creative juices, I find I'm not tapping into what's inside me, but instead looking to others for a spark. Not that there's anything wrong with getting inspired by someone or something. My problem is that I'm now depending on outside sources to bring out my original ideas. Talk about bass-akwards.

It seems to me that without being me, without listening to my imagination, I've been trying hard to fit myself into a mold that just isn't fitting right. Much like trying on a dress that's not cut for my body and desperately trying to convince myself that it works, the reality is it just simply doesn't. Why am I trying so hard to squeeze myself into something that's feeling awkward and unnatural? Why am I fighting what comes naturally to me when I relax and let my brain open up and create? Probably because I so desire my life to look like these beautiful things or people that I see. I'm thinking that's what I should look like, that's where I should be at this point of my life. I'm looking at a particular picture of what I believe I should be doing or what I want my life to look like. Wrong. That's plain wrong to do to yourself. Comparison is so unfair.

What is wrong with me? Why am I having the hardest time being myself lately? This is totally and completely an internal struggle, probably not an open advertisement I walk around broadcasting on a T-shirt to the world. I love my life, truly--although it probably doesn't sound like it, but I do. I like the quirks, the weirdness of it all which is probably why I've been struggling trying to make it all fit what I think is "the norm." Earth to Julie! Your life is your own. You are you and there's no one better to be--so quite worrying!
I wouldn't call all this an "insecurity" so much as an identity crisis or rather a search for the perfect self--could be compared to the search for the perfect pair of jeans. You feel me? It's going to be a long search.

I've been wandering in circles around myself, banging my head against the wall thinking, "how can I be me? What is 'me' at this point in my life?" I suppose we all have moments where we discover a part of us has changed, dreams have morphed, and your life isn't what you thought. Thank goodness for that! Now it's time to embrace it. I think I've finally reached that point in my life.

I'm not delusional. I know as soon as I figure out who I am in this moment of my life, something will propel me into the next stage and the search will begin again. I'm sure we can all think of a moment in time when our lives changes and we had to change with it. It's an out of body experience looking down at what's going on and thinking, "Holy Hannah. This is me now." There's a distinct moment. Today is mine, I guess.

Instead of being in denial about where I am and where I am not, I need to start dreaming up new dreams, figure out what it is I want to do with my life from here on and start working towards it. I don't need to reinvent myself, I need to embrace myself. Gosh, this could be the endorphins and the coffee talking (I've had a lot of both today--yay exercise and coffee!), but I'm ready to shed this heavy coat of questions and just start doing. I'll figure it out as I go, all I need to do is follow my gut, do what feels right for me and quit worrying how it fits in. I want to be the first rate version of myself.
Stand out in a crowd. 

Sunday Pyro Man and I heard this wonderful quote, "Don't dream you life, live your dream." Good golly, I needed to hear that. I've been telling myself 2014 is the year I'm going to live my life, do things, get out of the house, and start living. In order to figure out what my new dreams are, really start to put them into shape, I need to break my routine up a bit and branch out. I've got dreams that I keep thinking about, but thinking and doing are two very different things. Wake up, Julie! It's time to stop being scared and start getting prepared. Put pen to paper, make a plan, get your butt moving and start doing! LISTEN to your imagination, it is TELLING you what's on that life road map you've been praying will drop into your lap! Follow THAT voice, not that worry wart in your head.

I guess what I'm all fired up about is embracing the me right now; The me that's been questioning her choices, trying to mold a form of herself and missing out on doing a little self-discovery and changing a bit. It is past time to finally move off this worn out part of my life's path and keep marching to the beat of my own drum. In one of my lecture classes, we talk a great deal about personal style. The best way to figure out what your style is is to try different ones on, follow your gut instincts, practice, and most importantly, be you. I guess I need a spoonful of my own medicine.

We're all trying to be different, new, innovative, basically the original individual. Here's the thing though, all I really want to be, all I really need to do, is be me. I think if I listened to my gut, followed my heart, and let my dreams guide me, I'll be the best me there is and I think, in my humble opinion, that being a first version of Julie is probably the most different, new, innovative, original thing for me to do.

*If you want to watch the clip from that wonderful speaker, here it is. That is, if you want to feel inspired to live an extraordinary life, this is something to see. It's an hour and all wonderful, but the best part is from 6:43-11:16. Thank you, John O'Hurley. I will value you my imagination because that is how I will live my extraordinary life!* 

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