During my childhood and adolescent years I was surrounded by a lot of stronger personalities. I was the youngest of a large family. Our cultural background encouraged girls to have a calm and ladylike demeanor. Therefore my upbringing instigated a foundation for a timid and shy personality. I never actively tried finding myself and it didn’t occur until my late 20s. I was single with no prospects of the future I always dreamed of. But one day I woke up to myself and did something about it all and yes… I found myself.
As you would expect my childhood has a mixture of memories, good and bad. I was the final addition to my parents’ offspring. We were a family of 12… 10 being the children. As the youngest I felt like the older group of siblings approached our relationship more like parent and child, rather than brother and sister or sister and sister. Those who were only a few years older weren’t eager to bond with me until I wasn’t the annoying younger child anymore. I always felt dominated. Finding myself – what is that? It wasn’t easy. It was out of reach and I never thought about it really.
Any sense of confidence as a child or teenager was void from my life. My parents didn’t have very good English skills. They migrated to Australia at a mature age to ensure a safe and better life for their children. I am the only child out of us that was born in Australia. Many nieces and nephews followed though, so that part of my life isn’t all that unique.
My parents focused on allowing opportunities for their children in this new country rather than themselves. So in addition to my parents’ authority for me there seemed to be a lot coming from brothers and sisters too. Being overprotective was a quality they all had when it came to the youngest child in the family. I was cornered. There was no way I could be me. I was always worried about doing and saying the wrong thing. Fear of getting caught out for a lot of things that are a normal part of growing up was a daily emotion I couldn’t escape.
School was the only thing I knew outside of my home life. I wasn’t encouraged to participate in extra activities. It was even not permitted in some instances such as school camps. I was allowed on one day excursions, thankfully. But camp, being away from home without family was out of the question. This exclusion from things that were ordinary for other children was heartbreaking for me. My only chance of finding myself back then was when I was at school.
In the classroom and playground I could be me. I was able to let my hair down and have fun with my peers. At home it wasn’t always like that. My nieces and nephews were like my friends. But they couldn’t be there all the time. And knowing I was actually their aunty made me feel awkward at times.
My strict upbringing meant I didn’t have playdates. As a teenager I didn’t get to be part of the usual outings that my friends did. It became very hard to explain and some friends couldn’t comprehend it. I struggled coping with my parents old fashioned values. But at the same time I could never bring myself to rebel. Finding myself, what was that? Respecting my parents’ wishes was important to me. As an adult I appreciate their parenting and I believe some of it is instilled in me as a parent myself.
I could be myself at school so I had this refuge I suppose. There was a time when a friend said something funny that I couldn’t find an answer to. “I can imagine how loud and crazy you act at home.” Little did she know the confidence I boasted at school was nowhere to be seen at home.
So after I completed my schooling I drew myself into a hard shell. It was almost unbreakable. I didn’t keep in touch with friends even though I wanted to. It wasn’t until I started a new job in my late 20s that I decided to allow a lot of change to enter my world. Finding myself; this became a goal and I achieved it. I socialised like I should, made new friends and became reacquainted with old ones.
This time in my life I learned a lot about myself. I let everything out, all the feelings and passion I had locked up inside of me. Caring about me became a priority. I still cared for my parents; I could not stop caring for my parents. But most importantly, the fun and bubbly me that used to only make an appearance at school in my younger years was back. I was finding myself, at last.
My confidence and my motivation to smile everyday lead me to meet my man. We married and my confidence and positive outlook on life kept building up. I found love and support in a man that is with me every step of the way for the rest of our lives.
Becoming a mother didn’t remove my confidence. Did it change me? In some ways, yes it did. To me change is a good thing. I don’t look at it with fear like I used to. But as a first time mum I let the change take my personality away. I lost myself again.
Then, once more I withdrew from the outside world. I concentrated on keeping up with my new role as a mother. In addition to this I stopped caring for myself. My main aim in life was to ensure my baby was healthy and happy. Our new family life was all that mattered. Socialising was not on my to-do list unless I absolutely had to. Overall I was aiming to please everybody but myself. It was like I became a child again. My outlook on life wasn’t positive for me or my family.
Then one day, I finally realised I had to do something about it. It was around the time when my first baby bear was turning one. It wasn’t an overnight fix. I slowly started doing things like taking my baby out to different places on my own, rather than waiting for the weekend family outings. So getting to know the world of mum life with other mums was all new to me. Other mothers at the same stage as me were well and truly familiar with it already. But, I was doing something about finding myself again. That was the main point.
Baby bear number two came along and my priorities started to get a makeover. I kept all of my motherhood responsibilities within the top part of my list of priorities. But I started to learn about self-care and finding myself became a part of my thoughts. I still need a push at times and my husband is so good at pointing things out to me. But I can be so stubborn still and he chooses not to push the buttons too hard.
I’ve slowly started thinking about myself and allowing some indulgence. More importantly I’m allowing myself to get into health and fitness like I used to before I met my man. In follow up of my post two days ago – Stop Being a Bitch Revolution! – I have noted how whiny I became over the last odd 3 years or so. My hubby is such a good listener and I became so overly sensitive when he would try to help me. So I caused him become cautious with what he chooses to say to me. This in turn has made me into a massive sook.
I was feeling sorry for myself. It took a little push and shove with words from my best friend Nat to realise how being a whiny bitch was bringing me down. I’m finding myself again and I’m letting people back into my life like what I did about 9 years ago.
Do I have a message for you with this entire big spill? I’ll try to make it worth your while. Take chances in life no matter how little or how big they may appear to you. Think about yourself first and think about others next. Looking after yourself is ensuring you are fit enough in your body and mind to look after those you love.
I won’t let myself fall again. Positive thinking and positive self-talk is what will get me to the goals I have set for myself and for my family. Finding myself again after becoming a mother is happening.
If you are feeling down and struggling to deal with your fluctuating emotions I encourage you to look up organisations that help you rebuild your mental health. Here’s a useful link I found today, check it out!