Finding Validation In Your Experiences: Why It's Taken Me 15 Years to Not Just Trust in Myself, but be My Own Best Advocate

 Photo By,  Adam Mckibben

Photo By, Adam Mckibben

I sit here, fingers tapping the 99 cent notebook I just purchased, a victory as it mean't more ideas took up the pages of another, I begin to stir in my thoughts and wonder if this feeling of groundless-ness has anything to do with my inability to make any semblance of a routine right now.

First, these posts take on the form of words, like validation, worthiness, advocate, best self, all scribbled onto a piece of paper until something comes together and makes some kind of sense. Usually, they come to me as I'm leaving an appointment, picking out new tea at the local grocers, having a conversation with a good friend, or sometimes, if I'm really lucky, as I am armed and ready with a pen and notebook.

That is now, back then..

I didn't always trust them, convincing myself that whatever I had to say on the matter wasn't important enough. Rather, that I wouldn't do them justice. Sure, I could feel them, letting their heavy existence as not just words but feelings, wash over me as I struggle to make sense of them, but write about them, let alone share them? No, that didn't seem right. 

As I understood it: 

(please do note that I am diving into the mind of 19+ year old Chloe, who found herself in a very different place)

Writing wasn't my thing, I had a disease that made my eyes funny, a subpar memory, dyslexia, anxiety and panic attacks, but those weren't related to Lyme, right? Over the years, as symptoms, school, friendships, and doctors came and went, I was under the impression that I wasn't cut out for any of it...

Rather, let's give up on the doctors because they either give me the impression that I have either MS or early onset Parkinson's, or simply just don't believe me - I was overreacting, really. After all, Lyme didn't exist west of the Rocky Mountains, and there is no way I could still have it after all that treatment I had in 4th grade. School, why bother when I struggle to maintain a C-, made frequent the bathrooms with anxiety riddled bouts of sobbing, and eventually, received the gift of tremors, shaking and twitching that would keep me from writing, which I was crummy at anyways so who cares. Friends, they're all at University and don't care (time has passed and I no longer believe this to be true), while I was told the only chance I had at getting into four year was to attend Community College first (I see that as a great option now), where I'd have to start back at square one with algebra and english 101, seeing as I simply didn't get far enough in those subjects during High School. 

What it came down too? (hi, 25 year old Chloe here): I didn't trust in myself and I relied too heavily on the reactions and ideals that doctors, teachers, and other figures of authority at that time had placed in front of me. They weren't on me; I had a choice, and due to a heavy amount of self doubt, lack of confidence, and general feeling that that way was the only way, I told myself I was doomed. 

Exact thoughts:

(which still shock me as I write them out, but unfortunately, it's an all too easy thing to get into this mindset)

"You're dumb, a phony, have no way of achieving, too shy, unpleasant to be around, and are probably making all of this pain up, so just move on already would you? People go through far worse, so just stop being a whiney little..." You get the idea.

So, there I was, trapped in a cycle that just kept bringing me back to the same old thing:

You're not good enough, nor will you ever be.

Then a few things began to happen, I had ideas, and even enjoyed walking around the city with them for hours with no destination in mind. Not just that, but I put them to use, bouncing them off of the group of Ballard old timers (a neighborhood in Seattle) that would come into the coffee shop I worked at around 5pm every day, "One san pellegrino with whip cream, a 20oz mocha with extra chocolate, one americano with steamed half and half, and one more that I'm forgetting, as well as a few pastries!" We'd then exchange more than the usual, "how are you, oh I'm good," and jump right into goals, dreams, and the idea of working for National Geographic - oh what a joy that would be!

Soon, these thoughts started sticking without the company of self doubt and the trusted friend, fear. I was beginning to see more, trusting that yes, it will most likely not be straightforward, but I could do it. I could pursue a job, grab hold of an idea, and even choose a place to live! Anywhere, anywhere at all! For me, it was about getting past the idea that in order to achieve anything, I needed to first, find perfect health and the perfect doctor, and second, finish school with flying colors. Rather, nothing but A++'s, and then some. 

None of which are true, are even possible, and not because I'm not good enough, but because that's just not me. 

Finally, finally, I began to listen to my gut and take my own advice. Sure, I still catch myself leaving the door open enough for fear and negative talk to slip in, but never again will I wait for the validation of others before moving forward; the only person I need validation from in order to move from one moment, idea, place, adventure, friendship, and creative endeavor to the next, is myself.

Now, this doesn't mean I should exclude people from my life, listening only to myself and ignoring advice from those that I love. No, not at all. This means that I should take the time to find those people that love me for me. Who lift me up and push me to get after it in healthy, encouraging ways. 

For example, all of you, my family, as well as the friends I've made in a town that I chose to live in. 

But here's the thing: It doesn't matter if you aren't in a place where you can make these steps yet, you are still enough, and you still can make the exact same choice to trust in yourself and be your own best advocate. To take all of you, and put it forward, leaning in close to those ideas of yours and knowing that what you're feeling, it's real, and no one person, doctor, or anyone else for that matter, can take that away from you. 

That you are, and always will be, capable of happiness and health, even if it's different than you once thought.

Sound good? Perfect, I like this plan too. 

Until next time & with all my love,

Chloe