When I was a young girl, I had all these plans that I would have everything I ever dreamed of in my life by the age of 25. I have no idea where I came up with that number, or on what basis I made this decision, but I do know that when I reached that age, the fact that this was not the case bothered me a lot. I was frustrated, and unclear as to why things were not working out “as planned”.
I know a lot of people struggle in life with figuring out what they want to do, but for me, it was very obvious. I have always wanted to be a successful musician, to work at what I love every day, and yes, to receive a certain amount of recognition. For many years in my late twenties, I felt that I must have missed the boat, and during a time when I felt very tired of trying, I took a detour in my life that brought many challenging experiences my way. There are more times than I care to mention when I wish I had made a different choice, but that’s only when I weigh it up against “my plan”. When viewed away from this naive expectation, I really value the amazing experiences I had, the fantastic people I met, the maturity I developed, and the insight into a much larger view of life that I ultimately gained.
What I’ve learned in these subsequent years, is the famous truth John Lennon sang of:
“Life Is What Happens To You When You’re Busy Making Other Plans”.
I’ve also learned just how important choice is, and decision, and self-discipline. But most importantly I’ve learned the importance of persistence and of never giving up, or losing faith. I don’t write these words lightly, or mean to sound trite, because this has been a very real experience for me, and at times I still struggle to make peace with where I am today. To quote a line from my song Fly Away:
“I had to live the story to be where I am”
So, as much as I know it is a futile exercise to resist what-is, there are times I do. There are times I feel like a failure, wonder where I went wrong, and become lost in regret. Sometimes there are lots of tears. But I feel too, that I’ve become a much stronger person, and a much more compassionate person, and those qualities are of such immense value to me.
Perspective is such an interesting thing, and now I can look at things from many different angles, and question why I approach things the way I do. I can stretch my thinking in all directions, and be open to things I might never have even considered. I feel that life is a celebration, whether it fits in with some idea of what I think my life should be or not, and I know that nothing is more important than feeling happy, enjoying life, being kind, and living completely in the moment, no matter what it is I’m doing.
For me, maturity means taking responsibility for my choices, and not giving credence to my “failed plan”. it means being extremely thankful for everything in my life, and being able to accept, and love the road I’m on in all its diversity. It’s a long road, that’s for sure, but one filled with the beautiful colours and richness of life. I am so happy to be doing what I love, to be able to share my music and thoughts with all of you, and to know that in these moments creation is being served.
I’ll leave you with some lyrics from my song See Me Now:
“You, you see me now
But I have woke and shouted
How could I have ended up in this place
You, you see me now
But I have wandered far from where I started out
Hoping to find some grace”
About five years ago, I took ballet classes. I really love to dance, and as I had always wanted to take ballet when I was younger, I decided that it is never too late, and enrolled for weekly group classes in central London. Now I have very high standards, so I was extremely nervous about taking these classes, and from the beginning of the course right to the very end, I felt like the most awkward, clumsy and foolish person that ever walked this earth! I frequently felt like crying from embarrassment in class, and frustration rose easily. I came away each week totally lacking in confidence. I was reduced to feelings of inadequacy and imperfection – feelings I thought I’d left behind me many years before. The dance teacher didn’t help – she was extremely sharp and critical – and at times I felt like I was back in the school room. YUCK!
I was really confused as I experienced these feelings, and I began questioning my self-esteem. What I then realised is that firstly I shouldn’t have taken myself so seriously (bad habit), and secondly, feeling the way I did was okay, and no indication of my core level of self-esteem. Rather it was simply a reflection of my confidence level relative to my own perceived ability to dance, set against the unrealistic standard I had set for myself. I really wanted to be amazing right off the bat!
All that happened was that I had moved way out of my comfort zone and into the realm of the unknown. I had forgone the illusive security of certainty and control in order to learn something new and expand my experience of life. In doing so, I had subjected myself to these “horrible” feelings that most certainly were not welcome in my world, and I almost mistakenly attributed this total discomfort to a low self-esteem.
A little while ago, I was again thinking about the issue of a healthy self-esteem, and while I wondered who exactly set the parameters for such a thing, it occurred to me that one’s self-esteem could not possibly be static, or fixed. I had a sense that it was not beneficial for any person to define themselves as having a set point of self-esteem, as that would create an inaccurate view of oneself, and it would also be extremely limiting. While I feel that self-esteem is the foundation of our being, it is something altogether more fluid, and constantly in motion. As with everything in life, it is subject to ebb and flow, finding intervallic resting places until it is ready to move again.
Growth in life depends on constantly deviating from a point of balance particular to the individual. It is living the yin and yang in order to enhance the life experience, and to provide opportunity for new choice and direction. We then rest at a greater, expansive point of balance which will once again tip in our favour as the circle of life unfolds.
I see now that true self-esteem (much like dance), allows free movement. It may be stretched and pulled along with the tides of life, but in its unwavering strength it cannot be permanently harmed or tainted by surface fluctuations of confidence. For me it is a knowing that I am an expression of life itself, and that my life matters simply because that is what I choose to believe.