ON CELEBRATING THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE

I believe people make decisions about other people based on this super rough formula I totally made up:

It’s whatever information they have in front of them, plus the trust factor (what you are willing to share with them and the likelihood they will get more information in the future) and physical proximity, plus shared tendencies and hobbies, multiplied by their individual life experience (shared life experience can make you much more likely to get along), divided by differentiating characteristics and values. What makes people different? If you are someone who puts themselves out in the world, has a vocal opinion, acts differently than the majority of society (for example, if you don’t drink),  dresses differently, has taken an unconventional life path, experienced a specific type of trauma etc. etc. You’re going to be different and therefore less likely to be able to connect with just anyone.

Obviously this is not very scientific, but the reality is that we are constantly processing some variation of this formula when we come across new people.

My name is Raegan and I am in rehab from being an over the top people pleaser. I come by it honestly — I get it from my mother (she works in sales and it made her exceptionally good at her job).

It’s a characteristic that I’m working very hard to overcome and I know I’m not the only one who a) deals with this and b) finds it hard to swallow, especially when I look at the ways it’s done more harm than good over the years.

I find the formula above freeing. It reminds me that there’s just no way, based on all these factors, that we are going to emotionally connect with a good chunk of the people we meet — it’s just a fact of life. It also reminds me to take off the tophat (this isn’t an audition, Raegan) so people can see the real me. Because the formula doesn’t work when you change to fit the mould of what you think the other person wants.

Some people don’t struggle with this. If you are one of those people please SHOW YOURSELF IN THE COMMENTS.

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

So how did I (collectively: we) get to this place where I (we) care so much? Based on research, it looks like fear, anxiety and pressure play a big role, which isn’t very surprising.

Pressure….

  1. To be likeable and nice.
  2. To appear as though you have a squad* or a lot of friends.
  3. To feel accepted (which is why being different can be so damn hard).

We’ve all heard the phrase “nobody likes a people pleaser.” So why are there so many of us?

Short answer: we are hardwired to belong, so don’t feel too bad.

“The need to belong, also often referred to as belongingness, refers to a human emotional need to affiliate with and be accepted by members of a group.

The need to belong involves more than simply being acquainted with other people. It is instead centered on gaining acceptance, attention, and support from members of the group as well as providing the same attention to other members.” (Full article here)

If there’s something I’ve learned from reading ‘Braving the Wilderness,’ by Brené Brown, it’s that belonging begins with ourselves. It really starts and ends there.

“Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.”
Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

You are not for everyone, and you will not belong everywhere but that’s a good thing. You deeply deserve to be appreciated for who you are, and celebrating the fact that you are not for everyone is an extension of that.

REJECTION SENSITIVITY

This is hard to admit, but I know the pain of what happens when your opinion of yourself is based on other people’s opinions of you. Essentially, it means your self-esteem is as fragile as a sandcastle and some mean kid can come and kick it over at any time. I spent all my teen years bending over backward to be liked. I gave everything to everyone and as a result I got dumped, treated like a doormat (you don’t exactly command respect when you are like this) and had one person flat out say they didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I definitely developed rejection sensitivity as a result.

Taking baby steps to get to know myself and show my true self to people, knowing full well that I could be rejected, is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my adult life. For me, part of working through my rejection sensitivity is celebrating the fact that I’m not for everyone in a healthy, glass half full kind of way that honours and shows love & gratitude to my true self. 

It doesn’t mean I suddenly don’t give a shit about how I make people feel. It means I can say no and not feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. It means not chasing people down who don’t want me. It means not going over the top when it comes to simple apologies. It means taking the power back and not letting other people dictate how I feel about myself. It means I’m no longer apologizing for who I am as a person.

There’s always room to grow and I know I’m not perfect, but if you don’t like the real me, you can pretty much kick rocks.

“Taking ownership of your own fears and anxieties is the first step toward improving your relationships. Rather than expecting others to heal you, start by healing yourself.

This requires you to take a good look at the anxiety that fuels your neediness and longing for approval. The more you can deal directly with that anxiety within yourself, rather than trying to work it out through relationships, the more you will begin to heal those old wounds.” (Full article here)

Every day I accept more and more that I am a serious, opinionated, life-loving, risk-taking, aggressive, acquired taste and I don’t need to change who I am to make people like me. I am healing. I am going where I am wanted.

If you feel you are not in a place where you “belong to yourself” yet, as Brené would say, that’s ok. Don’t blame yourself. It’s pretty damn human.

When you aren’t sure if you are people pleasing, ask yourself:

  1. Am I being genuine?
  2. Am I working for approval?
  3. Am I being agreeable to avoid conflict?
  4. Am I reacting genuinely, or am I objectively crafting responses?
  5. Am I caretaking, or am I responding truthfully?
SHARING YOURSELF IS SCARY

Here’s my question: does the way you are interacting with others honour your sense of self-worth? How committed are you to rebuilding, healing and sharing yourself authentically even when it’s scary? Even if you make a commitment to yourself, then stumble or break it, it just means that you are willing to fall, f*ck up, get back up, honour that commitment to yourself and KEEP TRUCKING. Struggling doesn’t make you any less strong.

Here’s one more Brené quote before I send you on your way:

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”
Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

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How I leaned into living my best life

Richelle Ready redefined what thriving looked like on her own terms

GUEST WRITER INFO

Richelle Ready is a 200 hour registered yoga teacher trained in yin, restorative, vinyasa, hatha, and Bhatki yoga. She is the creator of Bloom Yoga, a community-oriented company striving to offer yoga that is accessible for all. Richelle has a Bachelor of Social Work and offers Vinyasa, Restorative and Yin Yoga from a trauma-informed and healing-centered perspective.

As of late, I have found myself waking up in the morning excited for what my day brings. I feel joy more often than I feel sorrow. When I am feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, this does not define me and follow me throughout the entire day. I find myself sitting with hard emotions and then releasing them to continue on. I say yes to things that bring me happiness, and say no to requests that do not serve me. I feel genuinely happy and content with how I am spending my time.

When people ask how I am, or what I’ve been up to, “living my best life,” has been my go-to answer. 

There are still bad days and stresses. I still worry about money, relationships and the state of the world. But in terms of the things that are in my control — I am living my best life right now.

This was not the case at the beginning of 2018. I was working as an assessment worker in the realm of child welfare. This means that I was assessing the safety of children within their families during times of crisis and hardships, as well as planning to ensure the safety and well-being of these children. It also meant that I was working from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and going in on weekends to complete paperwork, in a position that was scheduled to be from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. I felt overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the work I was doing, as well as the vicarious and experiential trauma I was absorbing daily. I lacked the time and energy to process and cope. I was also trying to start my business, teach yoga classes, stay on top of my additional casual positions, practice yoga, go to bootcamp, eat healthy, read books for book club, sleep and maintain relationships with those closest to me. Needless to say, there was not enough time in a day or a week to accomplish everything that I put on my to-do list.

One Friday evening, I came home from work four hours late. My partner and I were supposed to go to a friend’s wedding social. He came home to find me curled up in the doorway of our bedroom sobbing on my yoga mat. I couldn’t form a sentence or even begin to explain what was wrong. I had not eaten throughout the day so I had no energy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn’t go out that night. It was a social event we had been looking forward to for months.

I felt low and out of control.

Every day it seemed that my to-do list grew because I struggle with saying no and  perfectionism. I had ideas about how I wanted my life to look, and those ideas were shaped by expectations shared with me by my parents, co-workers and friends, books, television, social media and my own inner critic. The weight of the expectations I was placing on myself was causing a downward spiral, so I kept adding to my to-do list.

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Busyness. Something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing those things that are challenging or outside of my comfort zone. I find that when things are tough, I find other tasks to complete before making my way to the one that challenges me. Busyness is also something that I have used as an excuse for not prioritizing my own personal well-being, self care practices, and the people I love. I find that when things are emotional, I find other events to attend or chores to complete before making time to sit with my shit and experience intimacy. This being said, this holiday long weekend is an excellent reminder to slow down, spend time with family and friends, and make time for myself. Do you find yourself returning to busyness as a pattern when things get challenging? Or when your body is sending you reminders to slow down? I invite you to take busyness off of the table this upcoming week and plan your time with intention. . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga

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There was a month where I insisted on pre-making all of my meals from scratch. It was as if my inner critic believed that making soup (like my mother lovingly does oh so often) defined my ability to be a good partner and roommate. So I spent several of my Sunday evenings in tears over the stove (not because of the onions). I was placing my worth as a person in the number of things I could accomplish daily and weekly because I didn’t feel good about my job in child welfare. It was out of alignment with how I wanted to live my life, and I didn’t feel like I was positively impacting people the way I wanted to. I want to help — my moon is in Cancer, it’s in my nature.

With a lot of pep talks and encouragement from those who love me, I made a decision to apply for a position outside of my academic education doing something I was passionate about: teaching yoga in a studio. I was scared. I was embarrassed that I had spent so much time and money on my education only to pursue something that did not require any academic involvement. 

I was ashamed that I did not have what it took to work as a social worker. I was terrified to be without the level of income provided by government pay cheques. I was disappointed in myself. My inner critic had a field day with all of the things she had to say about me — failure, sap, suck, loser.

I had only lasted a year working in the realm of child welfare and this was where I was “supposed to” work until I was fifty-five and could retire successfully. I felt physically sick to my stomach when I shared my decision with my parents. But I also knew that I could not continue to live the way I was. When I received the position, I was excited and relieved. I had my out and began planning my new life.

But then I found out the new position fell through. Suddenly, I was headed for unemployment and into a place of uncertainty, a place I do not think I have experienced since I applied for my first job at fifteen.

It seemed like the easy option to turn around and ask for them to take me back in my old position.

Back to “Monday to Friday.” Back to misery. Back to stability.

Going back was the option many of the ‘adultiest’ adults in my life encouraged me to take. My heart knew and I knew — I couldn’t go back. Especially because some of my personal values are living in alignment and living my truth. I was tired of compromising. I was tired of spiraling into despair and drowning in lists of expectations. I was ready to stand up for myself and believe in myself. I was scared shitless but I was ready to move forward.

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It’s gonna be okay. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. It is going to be okay. ✨ The only constant in life is change. This moment is not permanent. Moments pass. Things change. Healing happens. ✨ Maybe not right now. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even the day after tomorrow. ✨ But eventually. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in healing. ✨ If you are interested in exploring healing, Bloom Yoga invites you to connect through email for an upcoming offering delving into our personal shadows. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #manitobayoga #hopeandhealing #yinyoga #accessibleyoga #healing #roottorise

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So I decided to go all in on Bloom Yoga and create a life I love. No longer sacrificing Saturdays to paperwork. No longer working for twelve hours in one day on something I did not wholeheartedly believe in. No longer witnessing the traumas of others day in and day out. I made a big change and a choice to honour myself and what I believe in.  

Now, I am teaching yoga and providing access to yoga to those who may not typically have access to yoga. I have had the privilege to teach at residential treatment facilities for women who are experiencing challenges with addictions, poverty, trauma, mental health and the justice system. I have shared yoga with youth who live within the child welfare system. I share yoga with individuals who work within the world of social work and are exposed to experiential and vicarious trauma daily. I am travelling because it makes me feel alive and joyful, but also to learn about techniques and strategies for teaching yoga. I had the privilege in October to travel to St. Pete’s Beach, Florida with my mother and my nana to learn about accommodating for the needs of survivors of domestic violence during yoga practices. I co-created a yoga teacher training program to share my knowledge and experiences with others.

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Photograph of Richelle with her nana and mother in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida in October 2018.

I am practicing yoga for myself. I am reading for enjoyment and interest. I am sleeping. I am eating in a manner that best suits the needs of my body. I am interacting with my loved ones in positive and meaningful ways. I am not saying this out of grandeur or bragging. These words come from a place of appreciation.

At the beginning of the year, I could have not pictured myself being where I am now, living the way that I am living. I am so grateful to be living my best life.

WHAT COMES NEXT FOR RICHELLE

Richelle is continuing to travel, learn, teach yoga and partner with organizations that fit her style of teaching and values. She recently launched Inner Light, a trauma-informed yoga teacher training, created in collaboration with Wild Path and Ash Bourgeois.

You can see what workshops and events she has coming up on her website here.

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When we put our pen to paper, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we speak with thoughtful words and phrases, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share space with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Introducing Inner Light, a Trauma Informed teacher training created in collaboration with @wldpath and @ash.bourgeois ✨ Inner Light is an educational platform designed to hold space for all those in need of reconnecting back in with their own light. ✨ If you are a yoga teacher, healer, or work in a field where you hold space for your fellow humans, we invite you to please join us to share in learning in a way that is non harming, non judgmental, and compassionate. ✨ When we come together to learn, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ When we share what we learn with others, we have the ability to make a difference. ✨ Bloom Yoga believes in the ripple effect. ✨ We invite you to be part of the ripple and create a difference. ✨ For more information, please see the link in my bio. . . . . . #thisisyoga #bloominginwinter #bloomyogabyrichelle #yogaeverydamnday #winnipegyoga #yogawinnipeg #thisisyogatoo #yogateachertraining #winnipegteacher #innerlight #traumainformedyoga #traumainformedpractice Photograph by the woman making a difference through creativity @owlsatdawnphotography

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ON LOSING “IT” AND MAKING A COMEBACK

No, I’m not referring to your virginity. I’m talking about when you realize you’ve been feeling….off. Maybe it’s been a few days, weeks or even months. You know when you’re not you, but for whatever reason, you can’t get back to being you.

You’ve lost it. *It* might be something different for everyone. 

Your magic. Your connection to a higher power. Your version of balance. Your gratitude. Your flow. Your peace. Your love. Your wellness. Your self love. Your mental stability. Your total and complete SHIT. 

I’ll provide one example.

When I shoved all semblance of self-care aside recently and allowed my perfectionism to take the wheel, I lost it. All of it. Like that entire list basically. And here’s what happened.

I cried. A lot. Whenever, wherever. Literally while standing in an aisle at Superstore picking toilet paper, at my desk at work when no one was around and once when everyone was around.

I was acting like the jacked up 2.0 version of me that was angry and agitated ALL THE TIME. I cancelled plans, cared way too much about what people thought, was overly critical of others, was insanely critical and mean to myself, binged and pursued short term solutions to pep me up while ignoring how they would make me feel long term.  I was full of every kind of fear you can have. It was like gripping life way too tight and losing feeling in my hands.

All of what I described above totally violates my values, and isn’t the version of myself I want to be. The pain of realizing it sucked. I felt like I had totally and completely let myself down. I was also exhausted from being stressed out and in a cloud of rage and tension 24/7.

I would like to say that I corrected my behaviour immediately, but I felt like I had drained all of my energy on holding on too tight.

Instead, I started to feel totally numb and indifferent — which isn’t really any better, I must say. As someone who feels emotions really deeply (both good and bad), feeling nothing is like a curse. I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. I came home and watched hours of Netflix and stopped trying taking care of my body or my mind. It’s hard to admit and look within, but we all play a part in our own demise. I was the one who kept hitting ‘next episode’ after all.

I started plotting my epic “comeback” and trying to do things that would reset the hell out of me. However, I also acknowledged that creating sustainable solutions, taking stock of the situation and making changes are how I would come back and stay back.

I ended up quitting my full-time job to pursue other opportunities and I’m starting to get feeling back in my hands again. It feels good.

We all need a kickstart sometimes.

With that being said, here are a few things that have historically kicked my ass into gear:

Making the decisions I’ve been putting off

This is open to interpretation, but you’d be surprised how much mental space and energy unfinished business takes up in your brain. Stop shelving shit for later. In fact, for some people (like myself), procrastinating decisions can be a form of self-sabotage.

There is no better time than now and any decision you make is the right decision, simply because it’s yours. End of story.

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You do not exist to please others, to help or to fix them. You exist to help and fix yourself. Once you are completely full you can spread that love as far and wide as you want to help others love themselves too, remembering to top yourself up with love along the way so you don’t run out. This is self care! Something I forgot to prioritise during the chaos that has been the past few weeks, filling everyone else up…but not myself. If you ever feel like you’re giving too much, or you’re a workaholic like me and take too much on at a time, remember to take a day’s rest – you can’t be amazing all the time 💗 Be selfish with your time because it’s YOURS and no one else’s. People will use you for all you’re worth and they won’t give back – so fill yourself up FIRST

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Cutting back drastically on things that allow me to escape

Escapism is the avoidance of unpleasant, boring, arduous, scary, or banal aspects of daily life.[2] It can also be used as a term to define the actions people take to help relieve persistent feelings of depression or general sadness.

Escapism is as easy as hitting next episode again and again or coming home after a hard week and having some beers. The sun always comes out again tomorrow and we wake to greet the same problems we escaped yesterday. It allows me to float through without reflecting. It allows me to numb myself to whatever pain I’m probably feeling.

When it’s just me and my thoughts it forces me to address them. This tactic might not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me. Especially when it comes to social media.

Doing something really really scary 

Everyday fear keeps us in line. Adrenaline reminds us that real fear is supposed to keep us safe. Jumping out of an airplane isn’t for anyone, but whatever seems scary go do it. Once in a while we all need a reminder that sometimes the only thing stopping us from feeling better is all our fears piled high. It might be riding your bike on the road, climbing the highest tree or jumping for the top bar (in Gymnastics), but do it, and even if you get hurt, take that as a lesson too. You’re still here.

Then get up, get a bandaid and say “fuck you fear you aren’t keeping me safe, you’re making me sorry.” Then smother that fear with a healthy dose of self love.

Reading a self-help book

Is it cliche? Yes. Is it cliche for a reason? Yes.

It’s usually a sign something is off in itself when I start avoiding anything that would make me reflect on my own behaviour or decisions — things like reading books that ask tough questions or meditating. Everytime I force myself to crack a non-fiction book when I absolutely don’t want to, it ends up being the encouragement I need to be better and pull myself up off the ground.

What a Time to Be Alone
Book is ‘What a Time To Be Alone’ by Chidera Eggerue

Moving

Whether it’s across the city or to another city, this a real thing that can help. I left my first apartment because my lease was up, but also because I knew I needed a fresh start and a place with air conditioning.

With this being said, no matter where you go, the pain or fear that you are carrying on your back will come with you. For me, my new space invited me in, made me feel good enough to put down the bags and become the person I always wanted to be.

Buying a red leather jacket

While I don’t typically suggest retail therapy as a solution, this jacket was what made me realize I missed colour in my life. It also made me realize I had been dressing, and living, on other peoples’ terms. LAME. Now I wear it and it represents who I really am.

Find your version of my red leather jacket and pick it up whenever you feel like you need some lightning straight to the soul. Or whenever you just wanna be a badass.

Saying “thank u, next”

Take stock of the five people you spend the most time with. Are they the squad that’s gonna help you make a successful comeback? Are they encouraging? Do they want you to do what’s right for you even if it’s not what they’d do? Do they remind you who you are in your moments of weakness? Do they call you on your bullshit, but in a kind way that keeps you accountable? If the answer is no – say thank you. Be kind, but be on your way. Now is the time to rise. You need those who will help lift you, and sometimes holding on to certain relationships means staying down.

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Tag your pals to remind them👇 @yarashahidi

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Changing my hair

Nothing like slipping into an alter-ego version of yourself by making a drastic change that takes 9 months to grow out. No but seriously, I can’t even express the amount of times I’ve used getting over the fear of a hair change to get the ball rolling on addressing my other unfounded bullshit fears.

There have even been a few times I’ve changed my hair only to realize it’s because I wanted other changes. I felt like I couldn’t grasp what I wanted or I was too scared to reach so I changed what I could control.

Moral of the story is: get the bangs, shave your head, dye your hair. It might just help you figure out where you’re at and which glowed up alter-ego you want to embrace going forward.


I thought I’d share in case anyone else is in a position where they don’t feel like themselves and are trying to find their way back. I also always suggest finding a counsellor or therapist and trying to see them consistently if possible, but I know not everyone has access to that kind of care.

Fuck any rhetoric that tells you going through rough patches isn’t normal and part of the damn process. Remember your setbacks fondly and don’t forget them — they literally made you who you are and gave you the ability to see things the way you see them now. Because every time we lose it, I think it makes us little bit better at figuring out how to get “it” back. 

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HOW I LEARNED TO FIGHT FOR MYSELF

What made me put on the gloves and get in the ring.

For the majority of my life, I was misguided. I have no illusions about this. 

I went through some heavy stuff when I was younger (that I don’t feel comfortable disclosing), and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me and the relationships with the people around me.

I don’t need to tell you too much to paint the picture. I’ve thrown up in someone’s parents’ flower bed, yelled at my parents while drunk, fooled around on a soccer field and been taken home in a cop car. I was never one for drugs, which to this day — I’m still very scared of.

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I think I’m 16 or 17 years old here? Honestly I couldn’t tell you.

If you know me now, some of this might come as a bit of a surprise to you. I do talk like a trucker most of the time, which is one of my old habits that hasn’t quite bit the dust yet.


A guy I dated when I was 22 called me something along the lines of “a drunk whore,” (that’s G rated for you) and that was the first time my inner fighter lifted her head, provoked.

I had taken those hits before from people before many times. Metaphorically, my ribs were bruised, lips fat. I was sitting in the corner defeated for most of my late teens and early 20s. But this time was different.

Why? Because prior to that moment, I would’ve said “you’re right.” I’ve written about this before: I hated myself, and I wore the insults people flung like a fitted leather glove.

But I had begun rallying and building up strength in the corner, and I was determined. This was the period in my life when I first discovered self-help books and realized I wasn’t alone in my struggles and flaws.

Everyday it felt like it took all my mental capacity and emotional energy to try to change my thoughts about myself. For those who have never tried to change destructive thought patterns/loops: it’s the mental equivalent of continually practicing a jab-cross-hook-uppercut on a punching bag all day every day. For years.

I worked so hard to make the small amount of progress I had made, I wasn’t about to let someone-that-I-will-not-name come and knock me out cold.

I don’t know how to describe it, but it was in that shitty moment that my months of repeating affirmations changed into an actual belief. Before I would say to myself “you are worthy of respect,” but didn’t believe it in my gut.

But it dawned on me that’s not who I was. I didn’t deserve that title. So put my boxing gloves on and got in the fucking ring. And I’ve been fighting for myself ever since.

I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. 

I’ll admit to my flaws and the harm that I’ve caused.

Not all of my choices have been smart. 

Not all of my words have been kind.

I’ve struggled with alcohol use.

I’ve done uncharacteristic things out of shame.

I’ve been deaf and blind to my own emotions.

My words and actions have come from a place of insecurity.

I’ve been self conscious and acted accordingly.

I am sorry for my mistakes.

I do not come from a self-righteous place where I’m claiming that I have figured it all out. I do not come from a place where I’m standing before you saying I’ve always known better. I’m still learning in every way.

I didn’t always understand what it means to be body positive.

I didn’t reflect on my internalized misogyny. 

I didn’t always know about intersectional feminism.

I wasn’t always capable of admitting to my faults. And I don’t deserve a medal now for doing so.

I absolutely haven’t always been the person I am now. Everyday I’m fortunate to wake up and try to live out my values better than I did the day before. I am ready to be wrong and call myself out when I slip up.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that the reason I am the way I am now is because of what I’ve been through. I have so much empathy for people who are in the middle of that struggle where they want to fight for themselves, but aren’t ready.

With all of that being said, I’ve come to a place in my life where I know I’m flawed — but I’m learning, growing and still deserving of happiness.

I deserve to love and care for myself. 

I am worthy.

I am enough.

And that is the biggest and bravest statement I can make out loud. That I love myself, not despite my flaws and experiences, but because of the person they’ve made me into.

There are people who have tried to put me in my place again since that moment, but I’m still ready to fight for myself. Elbows are down, gloves ready at my chin, ribs are protected. I’m not trying to throw punches, but I am ready to protect myself when necessary.

All we can do is the best we can in the moment, with the knowledge we have at our disposal. I believe that applies, always. We can have the “wrong knowledge” and still believe we are doing what’s right.

I know now he called me a whore from a place of pain, and I don’t hold it against him. We all do shitty things when we are in pain because we’d do anything to make it go away. I know this firsthand.

Admitting your flaws is cool, but you wanna know WHAT’S EVEN COOLER??!?? ADDRESSING THEM! WORKING ACTIVELY TO UNLEARN HARMFUL THINGS YOU TOOK IN GROWING UP! That’s the growth bit. But it starts with stepping up and being able to admit your wrongs or harm, say you’re sorry (when relevant), speak your truth(s) and move forward (ideally with self-compassion, because that tends to make things easier).

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In my personal guidelines of engagement under ‘Read First’ in my highlights, I’ve included this super helpful graphic by my sis @killing.georgina. The reason I’ve included it is because, as stated in today’s posts – most people with white privilege don’t know how to make a sincere apology when they’ve caused harm to BIPOC. This simple but powerful graphic teaches you how to make a sincere apology that doesn’t include ‘buts’, explanations of intent, fragility, defensiveness, further harm, passive aggression or falling apart. Ria also wrote a post about it on Medium in an article called “Oww, Ouch: How to Apologize”. If you find this graphic useful, I highly recommend supporting Ria and her writings on her Patreon at Patreon.com/killinggeorgina.

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Nobody wants to come out, be vulnerable and say they haven’t been perfect. It’s scary and it gives people a chance to hook you in the ribs; but showing up in that way and exposing yourself (in a positive way) puts you on a path to living your full potential. We’re all human. We’re all flawed. We still deserve to shine and love ourselves.

We don’t need to fight each other, but we do need to fight for ourselves. That’s why my  affirmation is “fight for yourself.”

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GETTING OFF THE HOT MESS EXPRESS

In college, I learned to live with burnout. But now, I need to change to survive as an adult.

burnout

ˈbərnˌout
noun
Definition — Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or chronic stress.
  • physical and emotional exhaustion
  • cynicism and detachment
  • feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

A month ago, I was laying on the carpeted floor of my apartment sobbing uncontrollably. My nose was dripping. I couldn’t even bring myself to get up and get a tissue. I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel (or to-do list, rather).

I wish I was just being overdramatic, but for the first time in years, the idea of self-harm played itself out in my head. For context: I haven’t engaged in self-harm since I was 17. When it bubbles up in my brain as an option that’s a RED FLAG.

I don’t know if I’d call it a panic attack, or a breakdown. But I eventually reached for my cell phone and called my Mom while still laying on the ground. I eventually calmed down and started to feel really numb. I came back to reality and eventually got off the floor. I finally booked a counselling appointment the next day.

I cannot express enough how stupid I feel telling you this since professionally, I am doing ‘well’ (those are air quotes). I just started a new job that I’m totally meant for, I was asked to speak on a panel about a topic I’m very passionate about and I’m finishing a video project that I can’t even believe I was approached to do.

So why am I laying on my living room floor totally losing my shit? 

There’s a big part of me that ACTUALLY STILL FUCKING BELIEVES that if I do everything right, I can do it all: juggle all my professional responsibilities like a winner, stay on my workout schedule, meditate, make time to write, have a clean apartment, cook and grocery shop, see my friends and family, shave my legs and the list goes on. That part of me is wrong, because that is a Big Fat Boldfaced Lie. I struggle to accept the truth — that not only will I never ever be perfect, but striving to be comes at a cost.

I want to tell you I’ve smartened up after seeing a counsellor. I want to tell you that numb feeling has gone away. But last Friday I cried at my desk in front my coworker as soon as my boss left the office. I literally couldn’t keep it in till I was alone. It erupted out of me like that science fair project when you put a mentos in a bottle of coke.

The go-hard goblin

I’m going to call my inner workaholic voice the go hard goblin.

The goblin likes to call the shots, screaming bloody murder and cackling, usually taking the wheel in a convertible with Guy Fieri riding shotgun, driving down a flaming highway that’s heading straight to burnout hell.

“You’re not smart or talented, which is why you have to work hard,” says the go hard goblin.

The goblin tells me I’m not doing enough. It points out other people that are working harder than me and not losing steam or breaking down. It tells me I’m just weak and I need to work on my mindset.

The goblin whispers, “if you stop, you’ll lose momentum. If you stop, you’ll implode. So full speed ahead, fucker.”

I tell the goblin to go to hell, but he’s latched on pretty hard and wants to drag me with him.

I’ve never in my life thought of myself as a workaholic, but someone called me that last week and the goblin said, “you don’t work hard enough to be a workaholic.”

There you go, I guess.

Self-love and self-care are two things I value very highly, and I’m certainly not living those values when the goblin is driving.

Old habits die hard

My counsellor pointed this out (shout out to her) but my go-hard-at-all-costs-and-don’t-stop behaviour is how I got through my post-secondary education. I put my head down and pushed. Pushed through exhaustion, all cues of sadness and distress, all needs, desires and more. The thing is when you stop pushing you sort of….emotionally implode.

During my degree, the crushing workload (and my inability to recognize the need for balance, breaks and pacing) drove me to seek literally any form of fast, easy comfort I could find. Alcohol and food were my two top choices, but there’s a long list.

By the end I was so burnt out I was severely depressed and I was basically only capable of escapism. Being alone with my own thoughts was SCARY and man oh man did I ever do some truly questionable shit during this time in my life. No wonder.

Now that I’m not putting head down and pushing toward something short term, that strategy won’t work. I’m aware of that now that it has been brought to my attention. I need to come up with a strategy for sustainable high performance that doesn’t demand all of me at all costs. I’m trying to figure that strategy out and put in the work on my own, but I’m nowhere near a new normal. But I’m trying.

Chill is the new hustle

I heard the phrase above at a Babes Who Brunch event and I think I need to tattoo this on the underside of my eyelids. Being able to say I’m “sooooOoooOOoo busy” has become part of my personality, but it sure doesn’t make me happier or more interesting.

News flash Raegan: everyone is busy. You are not a snowflake.

I can fully admit that being so busy I can’t handle my shit has served as a great crutch to avoid being left with my own thoughts (admitted, I get lonely, also — should I be making RRSP contributions????).

But I certainly don’t get a busy badge of honour for curling up in the fetal position on my living room floor.

I used to joke about the fact that I’m basically white knuckling it through life. Short term, once in a while to get something, ok fine. But I know that without a shadow of a doubt I do not act like the person I want to be when I’m functioning this way. I’m detached, aggressive and foggy. I cry a lot. It takes me twice as long to get things done.

It doesn’t matter how well someone else seems to juggle 50 things. I have to remind myself I don’t live in their head day to day and I don’t know what’s going on in there. I live in my own mind and it’s screaming PUMP THE BREAKS RAEGAN YOU’RE GONNA RUN US INTO A GODDAM WALL.

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Instead of saying “I’ve got this figured out guys,” and write some sort of rainbow ending I thought I’d share what I’m doing to try to get off the hot mess express! Because it’s not about letting myself sleep for 12 hours, watching 12 hours of Netflix holed up in my apartment and/or eating a jar of peanut butter to make myself feel better. They are all temporary fixes to a much bigger problem.

Self-care, to me, is doing the stuff that’s hard to get momentum on, and you don’t wanna do, but honours future you.

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Something I learned the hard way: for a lot of us, including me, “self-care” does not mean “allowing yourself to do whatever the hell you want.” For a long time, I was like “Pint of ice cream!” “Sleeping until noon!” WOO SELF-CARE! And then I realized that none of those things helped me be any less of a mess or feel any better. I need to think of “self-care” as “self-parenting” in order for it to work, and self-parenting means I end up doing a lot of stuff that I actually don’t wanna do. I consider my self-parents to be, like, Mr. Rogers and Oprah. And they make me take care of myself by getting off my ass and exercising, meditating when I’d rather watch some Housewives, and eating a dinner with nutritional value instead of a Haagen-Dazs bar from the gas station. Discipline as self-care: WHO KNEW? 🤷‍♀️#emilyonlife #selfcare

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  • Saying no

Yeah I suck at this. See how I started that sentence?

I have a bad habit of not valuing my time very highly which blows up in my face frequently. I get excited about things and I say yes right away before actually thinking it through, so my strategy is to take 24 hrs (or at least two hours) to think and respond back before I take on any new projects/meetings/tasks etc.

  • Daily gratitude journaling

I use the Five Minute Journal now (I leave it next to my bed so I remember to fill it out when I get up then throw it on my pillow so I finish it before I pass out), BUT I used to just try to think about or jot down three good things from the day. I learned this trick from the first self-help book I ever read: The Happiness Advantage.

  • Reading and sleeping

So stupidly simple, but goddam it is this hard. I have an alarm on my phone that goes off every night at 9:30pm reminding me to go to bed — that’s how bad I am at this.

I noticed that I was in a pattern where I’d lay in bed watching Netflix to “destress” at the end of the night (escape and quiet the yelling in my brain until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and pass out). Then my alarm would go off at 5:00am and I would be instantly mad at myself while I dragged my body out of bed. For the short term, I’ve had my mom change the password to our shared Netflix account and I got myself a stack of fiction books from the library that I’m excited to read before bed.

  • Scheduling in time for self-care

I could never have free time if I wanted to. I try to cross off everything else on my to-do list, but self-care never makes it on there. I literally wrote “take a goddam bubble bath” in my agenda today. I tell people to help hold me accountable to leave work at the time I said I would leave. I’m trying to remind myself I’m not a hero if I forgo this.

  • Seeing people I love

I am very good at isolating myself when I put the busy blinders on for too long. I tell myself I’m not fun to be around and I need the time to work anyway. I have zero compassion for myself, so I find it significantly harder to give off a positive “aura” as my friend Lauren would say (also hard to hide what you’re feeling when you are exhausted).

I’m lucky to have people in my life that know I get like this and wait patiently for me to surface, OR sometimes don’t take my no’s and cancelled plans for an answer. They come to my apartment when I can barely bring myself to get out of bed on a Friday night after a long week, hold me and let me cry on them. They make me laugh when it doesn’t feel possible. They listen to my irrational babble and bring me back to earth.

100% of the time I feel at least a little bit better once I’ve reached out.

  • Deleting the email app on your phone, blacklisting Gmail using SelfControl  and/or leaving your phone at home

I am a slave to my four email addresses — they may as well be wearing leather boots and holding a whip. We only have so much willpower. I’ve found removing the source of temptation helps a lot (this applies to a lot of things, as you’ll see below). I’m so much clearer once I’ve been away from screens for 4+ hours.

  • Avoiding alcohol + drugs + food + other easy numbing behaviours

Get honest with yourself here about your “why.” For me, I would have a few (too many) pints at the end of the week in college because I couldn’t cope with the impeding dread of doing homework at my dining room table all weekend. These behaviours become bad when the why becomes problematic.

Again, I know my willpower can be weak so I like the whole “handcuff myself to a radiator” strategy where I try to remove the temptation altogether if possible (hence why I do dry months). Tell people about what you’re trying to do and have them ruthlessly hold you accountable. Clear out your cupboards. Whatever it takes.

  • Meditating

I can’t say I’m very consistent with this, but if my head feels chaotic and I do a guided meditation it’s like pulling a parachute. As much as I sometimes avoid being alone in my own thoughts for too long, (like you pretend to not smell that thing that is rotting under the porch) good things happen when you get quiet. Again, I sort of have to force myself to do it but once I open my eyes again I always feel at least a little bit better.

  • Repeating affirmations/phrases and remembering to breathe deep

Recently, when I’ve been about to list off a confusing combo of swears and talk about how I want to set something on fire — this is usually over text message by the way — I do my best to  lean back, breathe deep and say “let go.” I swear I’ve said “let go” to myself in my head 100 times a day for the last two weeks since my friend Amie said it to me, but it’s true. I really do have to.

And you know what? It works. I haven’t lit a single thing on fire. It’s the little victories y’all.

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