I’ve spent my entire adult life changing.
Masks are those invisible people-pleasing behaviours that allowed me to try and always do the right thing to please others. The masks have the same purpose – to please/fit in/to be accepted and liked – and what mask I wear changes for the people I’m around so I can fit in, be liked/accepted.
Growing up, there was no self for me, because the masks I wore hid my true self. I wore these masks all through my teens, and my twenties.
The mask protected me, because there is no risk of true vulnerability by exposing my fragile inner-self. Who I really didn’t know.
In my thirties I decided to stop wearing masks. To risk vulnerability and start discovering my own voice, my true self, my own uniqueness, finding what I like, what I don’t like, what makes me happy instead of always trying to please others and make them happy.
This was a very scary time.
Now in my forties, I find myself having the courage and confidence to be the person I know I am. But now, as I restart my life anew here in Doha, I feel stripped down to an exposed, naked, raw, vulnerable self who has lost all courage and confidence. I’ll speak more of this later in this blog…..
When I was 37 years old, I figured out that I had worked 37 jobs since I was 16 years old! I worked as many jobs as I was old.
I’ve struggled with wishing I had navigated my employment choices more wisely when I was younger, in that I picked a career path, went to university to allow me to follow that career path and blossomed into a successful routine of happy employment in my chosen career. As a child I dreamed of becoming a Marine Biologist. To be like Jacques Cousteau. To study dolphins and whales and help with their conservation in this changing world. I also wanted to become a pilot. Fly a helicopter. I have a love affair with helicopters. Just like I have a love affair with the ocean.
In my twenties and thirties I did attend two colleges. I have two diplomas. But not diplomas that helped me towards my childhood dreams of employment. They are diplomas that reflect where I was at that time in my life, and that I was working hard trying to find a career for me. As I worked in those fields of study, I discovered that those career choices didn’t quite fit me. So my search for finding employment that fit my spirit and soul continued…..
I’ve also struggled internally, that (simply put) at 46 years old I don’t make great money from my employment. This is because I don’t have a university degree that is the base requirement/stepping stone for higher level employment and I’ve changed jobs so many times that I’ve missed out on the old school days of getting grandfathered into a solid, financially rewarding career that was very possible had I stayed working at one of the good jobs I had in my youth. For example, when I was 18 years old I was a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada. If I had stayed at that job, and worked hard – I’d probably be very financially set right now. But the job wasn’t a fit for me. And, now, I can only reach a certain financial amount in my employment choices. Nothing is ever static, I know. The question is, do I want to do the steps/invest energy and time to go back to school……???? I’m digressing!!
On the positive side, I have acquired an enormous, valuable and varied skill set from working so many jobs over a span of almost 3 decades!!! 3 decades!! Did I really just write that!!! LoL!!
Eventually at 39 years old, I finally did find employment that started to fit me. As an Education Program Assistant with the Halifax Regional School Board. I was able to start making a positive difference in the lives of others by helping to educate, and even better educate children! This job gave me the skill sets needed to qualify for my newest job at an International School, the American School of Doha! I’m the Grade 4 Instructional Assistant.
I ABSOLUTELY love this job!! I’m SURROUNDED by world-class educators who inspire. And I’m learning a superior teaching curriculum that many times during the day leaves me speechless because it’s just so damn amazing!!! As I sit quietly and watch young minds calculate, reason, create, focus and try so hard to learn, my heart overflows with happiness knowing that I am a small part in supporting this amazing process.
My twenties – I had two long term, unhealthy relationships.
My thirties – I had one long term relationship – 10 years. He was a wonderful man, safe and what I needed at the time as I was going through so much change sorting out who I was. But he wasn’t the one.
My forties started off with another long-term relationship with a man who wasn’t a great fit for me. We tried, we worked at it. But, in the end we knew we just weren’t right for each other.
Then I met my husband. Husband kinda tells you I found the one!!! Because I’ve never been married and I told myself that I will only ever, EVER marry once because he will be the one!!!!
When I was eighteen years old, I moved out of my parent’s home in Middle Sackville to a basement apartment in the south end of Halifax. And I stayed in Halifax, moving to different apartments for a variety of reasons over the years. Then I moved to Hubbards, Nova Scotia. Then back to Halifax.
Now I’m in Doha, Qatar. My first time living outside of Nova Scotia! Living outside of Canada!!
My first home here was my husband’s bachelor pad apartment. That was fun! Not!!! Just joking, but hopefully you get the underlying humour of a new bride moving into her husband’s bachelor apartment!
And now we’ve moved into a villa. Our first home together!!! I feel my feet starting to take roots here in the desert town. We’ll be here for another year for sure because we both have employment for the 2016/2017 school year (my husband is an Instructor at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar).
Ready to Settle Down – Have a Solid Foundation. And Get my Confidence & Courage Back!!!
So, here I am – 5 months in Doha and starting to feel settled. Important areas such as employment and housing/a home are final, no longer in flux and causing me stress. Both my employment and my new home make me very happy. But this happiness didn’t happen without my having another major emotional breakdown (one of many) during my five months here. This one happened while we were moving into the villa.
This emotional meltdown was different. I literally felt the snap in my brain because I truly believe my brain short-circuited. The short-circuit was an amazing breakthrough/light bulb moment that made me realise that the only way I’m going to get my courage and confidence back is to CHANGE MY THINKING, BECAUSE NO ONE PERSON OR THING OR ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF MYSELF BUT ME, MYSELF AND I WILL GET MY CONFIDENCE AND COURAGE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My courage and confidence STARTS WITH ME, and what I tell myself. My self talk. This breakthrough, light bulb moment felt as if right there in the kitchen (my location when my brain short-circuited) I’d been face-slapped to WAKE-UP and then stripped down naked, raw and vulnerable to my very core to be exposed to either sink or swim, life or death in making it and being successful in all of the radical changes I’ve made in my life.
Self-talk, what I tell myself about myself is nothing new to me. I’m a huge fan of Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer. Since the start of my inward journey in my thirties, I work each day to improve my inner self – but NEVER, EVER have I been faced with how important self-talk is until now. My very survival and success in my all areas of my life DEPEND on it. The ONLY way I will succeed in my new marriage, my new job, making new friends, building a new home, starting new hobbies is to have a STRONG SENSE OF SELF, SELF-WORTH, SELF-VALUE, SELF-ESTEEM, SELF-RESPECT AND SELF-CONFIDENCE IN MYSELF AND WHO I AM. I had some (sense of self, self-worth, self-value, self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence) when I married my husband, and moved here. But NOT NEARLY ENOUGH to step into so much life change!!! And because of this, I slowly let myself drown into a black abyss of negative self-talk that brought me to my knees this weekend and literally short circuited my brain.
Every moment, EVERY MOMENT, I have to keep my thinking in check. I feel like a world-class olympian in training, who tell themselves to win gold is to tell themselves they deserve to win!!! My self-talk now reflects that I will champion through this!! I WILL succeed in all the changes in my life, because I WANT to be here. I am the creator of my life!!! A WONDERFUL life!!!!! I will grow, love, expand my heart to others, and be the best I can be. I will be grounded, playful, carefree, compassionate, empathetic, fun, unique, filled with laughter, inspire and be inspired, passionate, adventurous, make mistakes, bounce back and grow and I will tell myself that I am a wonderful woman who does have lots to offer. Who can make a difference in this world………one encouraging, loving self-talk word at a time……….
Love, Stephanie xoxo