For as long as I can remember I have pushed myself to the breaking point and beyond. Lately, I've been asking myself why. I've got fibromyalgia, one kidney, hypoglycemia, and have had a total hysterectomy within the last year (and this doesn't even account for all the other surgeries and medical drama). Despite all this, I've never really let myself rest, lie down, and just be. And again, the nagging question is why?
I have recently realized that the answer is fear. If I rest, doesn't that make me weak? And if I'm weak doesn't that essentially make me a garbage person? Wow. That's some pretty intense negativity and a whole lot of limiting beliefs shaken up in a soda bottle that is bound to explode if I don't release the pressure soon. So, here I am processing all that. Today I went to the gym for the first time in over a month for a personal training session, and you know what I did? Hung out in the therapy pool. The water was warm and oh so comforting and I just moved - joyfully I might add. I was a beautiful Manadee serene in her element which leads me to the second thing I did at the gym today - canceled my membership.
Turns out I can get a punch pass that lasts for 6 months and can come and go as I please without having to shell out $73 a month for a membership I rarely use. It was surprisingly very emotional for me and I had to process those feelings too. Why am I feeling this so intensely? Because for the last six years or so, my worth as a human being has been intrinsically tied to the gym. I was always trying so hard to work up to going this many days a week, or this many sessions a week because eventually, I would go five days a week and prove to the universe that I was strong, and worthy. Turns out, a gym pass can't give me that validation.
I am learning to accept the fact that I'll never be a marathon runner or a professional weight lifter or that girl at the gym who does all the pull ups and that's really ok. Because guess what? I'm not really into running, or lifting weights, or pull ups for that matter. It doesn't bring me joy. So, from now on, I'm just going to text my trainer when I feel up to taking a swim, or rock out to my tunes, or maybe even do some yoga. I'm going to stop telling my body how it should live up to some crazy expectation and just let it tell me what it needs and do what makes me happy. Yeah, happy sounds good for a change.
I can't count the number of times I've seen a meme or heard someone say, "Be your best self". But what exactly does that mean? The answer is obviously unique to the individual and deeply personal. And, I think it requires a little imagination. It's the best version of yourself, so you can't really base it off of what you see in others. It's perfectly fine to be motivated by someone or inspired by someone, but you shouldn't aspire to have someone else's version of best. This gets me thinking, what is my best self? What do I imagine the very best version of my life to look like?
First, I have to get out of the trap of over thinking. I instead focus on an emotion, happiness. What am I doing when I'm happiest? What inspires me about the people I follow on Instagram? What about their photos inspires happiness? Recently I've been thinking a lot about this and I know it has to do with weight, not physical pounds, but limiting beliefs. The things I've absorbed and the conclusions I've drawn that lead to beliefs that weigh me down. Great example, fat people can't be fashionable. Through culture, family, media and sometimes even friends, I have internalized this limiting belief that being heavy and being beautiful are mutually exclusive. But here's the thing, they are absolutely NOT.
So if I start chipping away at these limiting beliefs, start digging through the layers kind of like a sculptor with a chisel, what lies in the marble? What does the finished product look like? Who is my best self? It all starts with a manatee. Short version to refresh, I see the manatee as my spirit animal - eats and sleeps for most of the day, gentle, aquatic, and gets run over by lots of boats (metaphorically my twin). My manatee tattoo, known by friends as Manadee, has a permanent phrase emblazoned above her, "Oh yes I can". This is my daily reminder to be brave, so this manatee is definitely the alter ego for my happiest self, my best self. So what parts do I keep and what parts do I leave behind in order to really become the Manadee?
First and foremost, my best self loves experimenting with fashion. I've already got hot pink boots and nose ring, so those are definitely elements of my best self, but I think Manadee keeps exploring. I want to fearlessly try new outfits without a care in the world about my rolls or lumps or imperfections. I want a wardrobe that makes me really happy, not just one that comfortably hides all my imperfections. Which leads me to the second thing. My best self does not give two farts about weight or scars or any of the other frivolous imperfections that I've been secretly obsessing about for years. She loves her body and accepts it exactly as it is in the moment.
My best self doesn't over analyze. The days I get an idea and go for it, that is 100% Manadee. Instead of spending a gazillion hours on Pinterest looking for the perfect craft project, I just pick one and start or better yet grab some clay and mold and do it for the sheer joy of the experience without caring if it comes out perfect or if anyone is impressed. I do not spend enough time just being in the moment. I seriously have at least five coloring books and a plethora of colored pencils, but haven't colored in over a year - not because I don't love it, but because I overthink it. My best self just goes for it. The self scrutiny is definitely something I need to leave behind. I want to create for creations sake and who cares if it's a masterpiece?
My best self also dances, and sings, very loudly and sometimes awkwardly. I was never on the drill team. I don't know any moves, I'm not smooth. So what? It brings me joy to the very tips of my toes. I should definitely do this more.
Lastly, my best self indulges. Manadee doesn't stop to consider whether those press on nails should be saved for a special occasion. She doesn't ration the bath bombs and paints her toenails, and when she can afford it, goes to the spa because she can. I feel happiest when I give myself a break and just enjoy my indulgences. I don't ask myself if I've earned it or if I deserve it; I just intrinsically know that I have and I do.
Going forward, these are the things I'm keeping, the best self I'm chipping out of the marble. The me who lives in the moment and loves her body and does the things that make her happy without needing a specific reason. My best self is my happiest self, and I can feel myself smile just thinking about it.
I'm a blogger, entrepreneur, and educator breaking through stigmas and helping women find their voice.