New Year. New City. New Focus.
New Year: 2020
New City: Austin, Texas (keepin’ it weird ya’ll)
New Focus: Share Your Story (the glitter AND the grime)
Soooo I moved to Austin. It was a little unexpected, a little bittersweet, and a little bit of a whirlwind, but I know this is where I am supposed to be right now. I’ll be writing about the gentle pull to leave New York that I resisted for quite some time, but that topic is for another day.
Today I am focusing on where I am taking this blog and how my focus has evolved over the past 2 years since I started writing and speaking about my journey towards stronger mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Rewind to 2017…
I was told when I first decided to start this blog that I needed to have an avatar, a fictitious representation of the person I was writing to and creating for. I was even encouraged to name this avatar. However, every time I sat down to write, my carefully crafted avatar would morph into something else. Depending upon my experiences that week or the mood I happened to wake up in the avatar ranged from Wonder Woman to a bedridden hospital patient and every figure in between. So rather than force a square pegged method into a round holed purpose, I just started sharing. The less I strategically molded what I wrote, the more responses I got from readers. The more I pulled back the curtain on my own life, the more I was asked to share my story. It felt scary as h*ll, but it felt necessary. It felt right.
Share your story! Share your story because it will help others. That’s what I kept hearing, feeling, and believing.
Then I slowly lost my motivation. I began dialing it in with my material and feeling more and more disconnected with my own story. I shared the story of my ED relapse just before making the decision to leave New York, and then I took some much needed time for introspection. I didn’t think that would turn out to be 5 months, but I am exercising some self-compassion given the massive changes occurring both within myself and in my surroundings. The truth is that I didn’t feel authentic anymore because I kept looking for a model to follow any time I felt resistance.
I didn’t trust myself, and facing this truth has become the most difficult lesson to date. It makes overcoming the physical manifestations of perfectionism, people pleasing, and poor body image feel like child’s play. If I can’t trust myself, I certainly won’t trust anyone else. I had to trust myself to write with my own words and share my own experience without relying on others to guide me every step of the way. Their stories and methods work for them and their audiences. My story is different, and my story may help other people or even the same people in very different ways. My point is that I now know my story has to be told. This blog is not just a hobby. This is something I am meant to do.
When I was at my lowest physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I kept digging for answers. I searched for books, courses, support groups, and retreats. I spent thousands of dollars that I didn’t have (that’s a whole other story I will share more about), but I couldn’t find my people, my solace, my safe space. I kept coming across two opposing poles of the inner work and holistic health spectrum. On one end I saw people in dire circumstances. This end made me feel shame over believing I had any real issues. On the opposite end I saw flawless influencers telling me to believe in myself and love my body while striking a perfect yoga pose on the sunset backlit Santa Monica pier. This end of the spectrum brought out my green monster and triggered my perfectionistic tendencies.
So that avatar method I couldn’t ever seem to fully grasp? I finally had a moment of clarity. I realized (at the risk of sounding like a complete narcissist), that the person I wanted to help was me. By “me” I don't just mean Paige. Me is inclusive of the countless people I've spoken with since starting this blog who are dealing with similar struggles. People who are not bedridden but who also living health issues that drag them down. People who have checked quite a few boxes that they have been conditioned to believe would lead do the promised land of happiness. People who crushed externally focused goals left and right but felt empty at the finish line. People who appear to have it all together on paper but on many days feel like they’re hanging on by a thread. People who think they’re the only ones who have these feelings and anxious thoughts.
I was trying to think of how to describe this state, and for some reason “glitter & grime” popped into my head.
What are some symptoms of living in this contradictory state? They include but are not limited to the following:
Glitter: Glowing resume that impresses employers, friends, romantic partners or prospects, parents, in-laws, etc.
Grime: Gnawing feeling of discontent that you can sometimes suppress but that eventually rises to the surface due to stress, fatigue, and/or the passing of time
Glitter: Closet filled with beautiful things you either splurged on or excitedly acquired second hand or on sale
Grime: A wardrobe you wear maybe ¼ of and a closet filled with with items that still have the tags attached
Glitter: Active social life filled with happy hours, networking events, girls’ nights out, spa days, and volunteer shifts
Grime: Unhealthy tendency to use food, alcohol, sex, spending, or drugs to numb your anxious thoughts and feelings
Glitter: A nice paycheck and a job with a company people highly regard
Grime: Feeling terrified at the thought of leaving your socially applaudable job or (GASP) even saying out loud that it might not be what you want to do with your life
These are both personal examples and ones that readers and friends have shared with me. They may not hit the nail on the head within your own situation, but if they resonate I hope you know you are not alone out there.
There are so many of us hiding in plain sight. We hide behind our chameleon-like masks beneath the bright lights of offices, gyms, classrooms, coffee shops, and pretty much anywhere that no one would not suspect what lies beneath our facade. We are often complimented on our personal and professional success. We smile, perhaps make a self-deprecating comment to ease our discomfort, and ultimately continue to hide. We let loneliness wash over us because we truly believe we are alone in our darkness.
NOTHING could be further from the truth.
I’m sharing my story and I implore you to begin to share your story too. It doesn’t have to be on a blog or even to another person as you begin this work. It can start by letting out a scream or finally letting the tears you’ve held so tightly within your chest begin to flow. It can start in a bedside journal. It can lead to a phone call or a conversation with your closest friend. It can lead to making more time to reconnect with the things that light you up and make the time fly by. It can lead to your freedom. It can lead to a life worth living. It WILL lead you out of the darkness you currently reside in when you’re not performing for the world around you.
Life does NOT get easier. But we learn. We get wiser. We let go of the need to appear perfect all the time. We gain the tools to cope in a healthy manner. We learn to get in touch with who we really are and ditch the mask. I am learning that the more layers I peel back on the onion of my holistic health issues, the more work I discover. It has not gotten easier, but I am more comfortable taking the next steps. I am more at ease admitting to those close to me what’s going on. I am more convinced than ever that this work is the most important work of my life, and I am genuinely thrilled to share what’s helped with anxiety, autoimmunity, perfectionism, codependency, and a few other terms that attempt to encapsulate what ails myself and many others.
I hope this resonates with at least one person out there. I am talking to you, and I am dedicating myself to writing more frequently, honestly, openly, and without fear.