Every time I have experienced growth in my life there has been a lapse of time in the middle of it all that is nothing short of uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve often questioned whether its depression creeping its way in, unleashing a new unfamiliar way to torture me, as the solitude feels inauthentic to my character. But unlike depression where it can make one feel confined , isolated, and exhausted; the seclusion has in fact afforded me the privacy necessary for the next transition into a new chapter of the ever evolving “Me.” I think we have all experienced times where our friends wonder if we have fallen off the face of the earth, or experienced pure shock when when the life of the party turns down an opportunity to get out on the town. Some may even take it personal. And for this reason I probably spent more years than required trying to appease people’s expectations of me out of fear they may not understand that its not them it’s me. The “Me” that I have habitually put on the back burner, as to not hurt or disappoint anyone’s feelings. And to be fully authentic with you, there are freckles of self indulgence there as well, whereby I have always found pleasure in feeling needed or necessary in peoples lives. Meet Cece the Martyr. *eye roll
Nonetheless, I feel like the Pandemic has thrown me into a new wave of self evolution, whereby it has forced me to familiarize myself with the ability to be self sufficient in so many ways. With most of life’s distractions removed, namely a day to day peer network, I was left to my own devices. It is in my nature to become bored very easily and for me I became very bored with sharing my feelings of discouragement and the feeling of powerlessness over the pandemic and surrounding complexities. I became bored with talking about my ailing mental health, my feelings of loss and freedoms, and even more so, listening to others. It was like I hit a wall. I realized the wall I hit was in actuality my own resistance to let go of What Was, and begin to accept a new way of thinking as in What’s Possible for me.
Let me provide some context.
I was a young mother at the age of 22, who for the most part experienced motherhood on my own as my peers were busy doing things that typical 20 something year olds do. My experience was vastly different. When I reached the period in my life that I could afford the freedoms that I had missed out on, I was able to make up for lost time tenfold. I look back at these times with immense gratitude, as they were the best times of my life! Many of the friends I met along the way are now family, and we continue to spend hours laughing at the memories we shared. But like most good things, they sometimes have to come to an end. This was admittedly heartbreaking for me- I felt like I lost my limbs. I wasn’t ready to let go and I didn’t know who I was without them, in fact I didn’t know who I was without anyone.
For many of my friends they went on to get married, start young families, or build empires as if it was like it was always meant to be. It was like they morphed overnight, going from skinny dipping in fountains to banking on a solid 8 hour sleeps so they could be rested for their half marathons. I have literally watched for the last 20 years gaggles of unsuspecting friends be captured and sucked into the mystery in which they take on their roles so gracefully. Its like their souls seemed to be prepped to embrace the warm and inviting hug of change. It perplexed me because transition for me has always felt like an internal battle of the wills.
I’m not saying that I have never achieved growth through conscientious intention. My life has been sprinkled with deliberate achievements where I have been cognizant of the measures that lead me to building who I needed to be. In fact it would be that same sense of intention that fueled this fierce hyper-focused woman; hell-bent on clinging to what I assumed was the quintessence of who I am. That’s assuming the concept of our souls is a static force, whereby the flames require the same degree of fanning. Ultimately, I know over the years I’ve begun to stop building the metaphorical fire and trust that the hottest embers deep down still burn just as bright.
But rather than get carried away with metaphors, what I’m trying to communicate is that I’ve experienced fear accepting and opening my heart up to the new ways that excite me. I have been terrified to let go, and the biggest release lately has been the decreased interest for human interaction. Admittedly my network has been gradually growing smaller for a multitude of reasons over the years but I could have never imagined that I’d find myself as a borderline recluse. And up until recently my biggest source of anxiety has been mainly around the question “Will I ever feel like myself again?”- As in will I ever get back to a place where the Inner Samantha Jones in me will reappear so we can resume scheduled programming. The kind of programming that I’m familiar with where I can predict the outcome, do my twirls, make the audience laugh, shake shit up, with the anticipated end of the night dip. It wasn’t that long ago that this version of me was alive and well, swinging from the Chandelier. So you can understand what a drastic change it is for me to feel pure joy and peace, tucked away in my little cocoon, leaving texts unread and calls unanswered.
As the saying goes Bad Habits Are Hard to Shake- Enjoyable behaviors can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. If you do something over and over, and dopamine is there when you’re doing it, that strengthens the habit even more. So that explains the lull, or the lapse in time when our brains are re-adjusting to new Dopamine triggered events. And also explains the new events in our lives that trigger pleasure that perhaps we never took the time to explore. I believe the outcome of establishing these new habits with ourselves is what creates the desired outcome of Self-Sufficiency.
To date I am happy to report that despite my resistance the act of being self sufficient has carried no adverse affects, in fact has inspired me to grow creatively in so many ways. I spend more time thinking about my future and actively committing to plans and ideas that inspire and push me in directions outside of my comfort zone. Time with myself has pushed me to take on new learning, as well as re-visit old passions around design, writing, and fashion. I have become more self reliant on my abilities to work indepedently on my own mental health, often focusing on not panicking and placing trust in myself to manage it more effectively. I often have to remind myself not every worry, fear, or pinch of sadness warrants attention, including my own. I have also learned to make the time with myself more enjoyable with adding music to my day when I’m alone, or taking time to make small talk with the strangers at the dog park wherein its just enough interaction to remind myself that I’m not alone, and brief enough as to not take away from the Me Time I’ve come to love. The desire to appease the masses and do the check ins is usually intentional- meaning I have control over the energy I give or have available. Its neither forced, or phony.
That being said, I feel while my experience has been somewhat organic, that going forward being mindful as to how to achieve this should be consciously maintained. I came across an article posted by Raven Ishak who outlined some helpful Tips in : 6 Ways To Be More Self-Sufficient that I thought may be helpful for anyone facing a similar circumstance that I have described above.
“Establishing your personal space is vital to understanding who you are as a person. While it might be easy to depend on others for their opinions and help, it can become very unhealthy, and you can lose sight of your individuality if you’re not careful. Being self-sufficient can be scary, but it’s worth it. It can make you a strong, independent person who doesn’t need the validation of others. Even though it’s never a bad idea to ask for help, it’s important to try not to be solely dependent on your friends’ or family’s thoughts. For instance, if you’re the type of person who cannot make any big decisions before asking all of your friends their opinion or you’re extremely uncomfortable doing things alone, you just might be emotionally dependent on others. Instead of continuing this behavior, here are some tips on how to go down the path of being more self-sufficient.“
1. Increase Your Self-Esteem
Sometimes becoming more self-sufficient means you need to look deep inside yourself. Are you proud of who you are? Do you feel confident in your everyday choices? Having higher self-esteem could be the special ingredient you’ve been looking for. According to clinical social work/therapist Chamin Ajjan in an email to Bustle, “A belief that you are unable to care for yourself without the help of others is often linked to low self-esteem. You can empower yourself by increasing self-esteem and self-compassion. Doing this while working to master new skills can help to reinforce that you have the ability to provide for your own well-being, making you more self-sufficient.”
2. Stop Asking For Permission From Others
Why give so much power onto others when you clearly have it within yourself to make good decisions? Being emotionally strong means you know the right decisions to make and are not afraid to make them. According to licensed clinical psychologist Kim Chronister in an email to Bustle, “The last thing you want to do when it comes to striving for emotional or intellectual independence is asking what others think about that idea. You risk losing your power and your motivation by asking everyone around you for permission to move forward with your idea.” Instead of asking others for permission, follow your gut and do what you already know you’re supposed to do. Because sometimes when you’re asking other’s for permission, you could already be seeking for the answer that you’re hoping they will say. Just listen to your heart and things may magically fall into place.https://856fe575a14dfe1f245f6652c5c619ec.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
3. Learn To Be Comfortable With Your Independence
As you grow up, you may go through some tough obstacles that will make you a strong, independent person. But sometimes life happens and you lose your sense of independence. For example, maybe you’ve just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Instead of finding someone else to depend on, do something that will get you out of your dependent funk. According to psychologist Dr. Nicole Martinez in an email to Bustle, “Develop a hobby, as you need to learn to be comfortable with your independent time. Learn good self care habits including getting enough sleep, eating well, taking time for yourself, and having a good work or school, and life balance.”
4. Be More Assertive
Wanting everyone to be happy is not a bad thing, but being a complete push-over is not, because let’s be real: Pleasing everyone is never going to happen. When you put other’s feelings in front of your own, you can lose focus on what you truly want out of life. According to Chronister, “Assertiveness is a trait that can combat feelings of emotional dependence. If we assert our feelings by telling others what we truly want from them, we not only gain more respect interpersonally, but we become more emotionally independent as a result. Assertiveness is an expression that conveys that your opinions and feelings hold the same weight as those of other people. Maintaining your stance, even if it opposes another’s, is a sign of emotional independence.
5. Comprehend What Causes Dependence
What if I told you that being dependent on others can actually be explained due to chemicals in your brain? Understanding how your brain works and why you become easily attached might help fix the emotional issue. According to Loretta Graziano Breuning, PhD, in an email to Bustle, “Oxytocin is the brain chemical that makes mammals feel safe in the company of others. A gazelle’s oxytocin falls if it roams too far from the herd, and it starts feeling unsafe…When you know what causes this feeling, it’s easier to manage. You can tell yourself, ‘I am safe, even without the herd’ and find new ways to make yourself feel safe. But you have to do it again and again because your mammal brain keeps going there.”
6. Spend Time With Other People
It can be easy to become dependent on another person when you’re spending time with them 24/7. Even though you know the person like the back of your hand, it can become unhealthy if the thought of spending time with other people gives your anxiety. According to Chronister, “It’s healthy to have your interpersonal needs divided up so that you are not overly dependent on simply one parent, or your partner, or one friend etc. Renew your friendships, make new ones, spend time with healthy family members, and network so that your needs will be met by more than one person at once.”
Self-sufficiency is a beautiful behavior that everyone should try to achieve. It allows you to embrace your own thoughts and establish healthy habits, and while having relationships in your life is a factor that is much-needed, being completely dependent on them is not. If you have gone through a hard breakup or just need to reevaluate some life decisions, hopefully a few of step tips can help you achieve the independence you have been looking for.
In conclusion, if you are a person who has already realized this long ago, please continue to support the rest of us who are still accepting the power of self-sufficiency- or for a better word our Inner Introvert. I figured I’d leave a few jokes with you all who may need to laugh at themselves!
At the start of the pandemic, it was a good opportunity to tell wether I was an introvert or an extrovert.
Turns out, I’m just a pervert.
What do you call an extroverted snail?
A Husband And Wife Are Creating A Password On Their Computer
A husband and a wife are creating a password on their computer. The husband, being a confident, extroverted man, puts in “My Penis”. Although insecure and introverted, the wife falls on the ground and laughs because…
**The screen says “ERROR: Not Long Enough.”.*
I’m what you would call an anti-social extrovert.
That may sound like a contradiction, but it basically means that being alone makes me what to kill myself and I love it
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