How A Stuck Pleasing Teenager Got Her Groove Going – Part 2 of 2
In part 1 you read how trying to please my mom worked against me and for years and I didn’t even realize. I finally got myself into therapy and though it was useful, it wasn’t quite the answer that worked.
During the years I was in therapy, because no one got to the root of the problem, I just continued to believe that it was my responsibility to please my mother. I perfected my superficial facade. I became good at pretending. I learned to be a good listener. I’d put on my “it’s okay, I’m okay” mask and help others with their issues just so I wouldn’t have to deal with my own. Pleasing my mother and running from my father was damaging me. Yet, trying to share my feelings and thoughts with them would be worse, so I continued to endure it.
How I Endured Pain That No One Saw
I believe I was able to endure the pain for such an extended period of time is because I enjoy writing. My saving grace became pen and paper and writing my feelings and thoughts down. No would hear them but I’d have them for me and by writing them I could feel that there was a me separate from everyone else. I wrote and wrote even if all I could write was “I’m NOT going to die today.”
Up until about the age of nineteen I never explored who I was meant to be outside of my mother’s vision. I hadn’t even thought about the values, beliefs, and virtues that mattered most to me. Nor had I considered my own purpose other than pleasing my mother. As I was about to turn 20 years old and say goodbye to my years as a teenager, I was not my own person, nor had I begun to form my own identity. I’m in college still trying to please my mother. It no longer seemed possible. She was unhappy with the major I chose—theater, because yes, I was really, really good at it and I enjoyed it immensely. I really believed I could make a career of it. But again, to please my mother I chose a major I thought she would approve of, English. Still, she disapproved.
Finally came the day that I became so severely depressed that I grew distant from my mother, developed some harmful habits and started to spiral downward mentally and emotionally. To this point in my life I had never been able to embrace anything that made me happy, or helped me connect with my talents, and interests. This is a recipe for disaster. If we do not take the time and put the effort into discovering who we are and what our purpose is we whither and slowly die inside.
My Lifeline Support System
While in therapy, I learned the importance of having a great support system and the value of being around people who pay attention to you. I had friends checking on me regularly, and trusted adults I would label as my “lifelines.” When things got unbearable I could call them or go see them and they were able to bring me back from my darkest places. After I had graduated from high school, I had become better at recognizing my own negative thoughts and behaviors. I made concentrated efforts to rearrange my thoughts into more positive directions and reevaluate my thoughts and internal voices.
At times I still find myself battling those voices that make me want to shorten my goals and minimize my dreams to fit another person’s plan for my life. But the value of being open to a support system has allowed me to accept and listen to voices wiser than the negative one’s that try to replay in my head.
Be Who You Are Born To Be
This past summer I went to a retreat for this program I am in called We Are G.A.M.E. I met Dr. Kim and had the pleasure of participating in one of her workshops. During that workshop I realized that I was not using my voice, and my core values to decide and direct my decisions and behaviors. An overwhelming sadness came over me. Later that evening as I was speaking to one of the mentors Dr. Kim sat down and began listening to me. She asked pointed questions, and I noticed that her questions were “what do you want” “what brings you joy?” “What makes your spirit light up?” I always came back to acting and theater. When Dr. Kim pressed me and asked me why I changed my major, I told her that my mother was unhappy with that major. Dr. Kim asked, “Is it your life or your mother’s life?”
How great was it for two adults to be sitting in front of me asking me what I wanted! And they were encouraging me to be true to my nature. “Be who you were born to be. Nothing else will bring you joy. It is your life not your mother’s not your peers, not your professors, not anyone’s but yours. No one can do it or live it better than you. You have the unique formula to be who you are meant to be.”
How To Discover Happiness
She told me to find things that made me happy, allow myself to actually feel the emotions that I have because despite what I have been raised to believe, I am allowed to feel anything and everything that comes to me. She set me up on a journey to find myself, I mean genuinely find out who I am. She told me that I will change as I journey through life and mature and grow and develop new skills as I experience life. But what matters most is to know who you are and what you stand for and be true to that. She taught us how to do that in a workshop.
Use your natural God given interests and talents to guide you towards your purpose. If you want to act, ACT. If you love theater, be involved in theater. If it doesn’t work out, it is your decision to make not your mother’s or anyone else. You are unique, one of a kind. Your mother, your father, your friends, social media, no one can be you better than you, and there is the magic of life. When you are true to yourself in living your purpose you will like yourself. It is a process, it takes practice and time, and being patient with yourself.
The Process Of Growing My Happiness
Now don’t get me wrong, as enlightening as this advice was, it was easier to hear than to apply, but I still try. Every day it seems like there is a little something I learn about myself or tiny characteristics that I will accept about me- be they good bad or ugly. I also try to keep an optimistic view on things even when I know there are situations that make optimism nearly impossible.
I am getting and better at using my chosen virtues to guide my thinking, decisions, and behaviors. Doing this makes me feel powerful and allows me to keep my control. It also reminds me that no matter what the situation is, we have choice as to how we respond. When I respond in ways that are aligned with my core values, I feel really good about myself.
I try not to keep looking back because when I do it blocks my vision from moving forward. I have my good days, but I still have some bad ones too. My point is, I kept trying, and learning, and changing. I never gave up. And no matter where I am or what I’m doing or how hard things may seem, I never will.
I’ll be writing future blogs if you want to follow my journey. My hint for you to take your power in your own hands:
Choose and use your personal virtues to conscientiously think about things, then decide, then act in ways that move you toward your chosen virtues rather than away from them.
Watch interviews with other inspiring youth and mentors on Dr. Kim’s XtraOrdinaryYouth TV.
About The Author: Naomi Galloway
Naomi Galloway is a student pursuing an English degree at Cerritos College and is looking to transfer to an HBCU or San Francisco State University. She has decided to use 1. Courage, 2. Perseverance, and 3. Authenticity to live life of her choosing because trying to live according to the expectations of others has brought her too much sadness. She has decided to share her journey with the hopes of inspiring others to be who they want to be and walk in their own path which would lead to discover the joys in life.