As far as reinventing yourself goes, the above photo is proof that it can be done.
I got that beautiful card in the mail three weeks ago from Amy, a reader who you may know from her comments here on the blog – many of which, I have personally turned to during tough times. I love all of the comments, messages, and letters I get from all of you, all around the world. I photographed this particular card because it’s a really beautiful and tangible affirmation that reinventing yourself and your life can be done at any time – on both your end and mine.
I never thought that anyone would ever want to connect with me on any level, let alone be inspired by me in any way. I had nothing to offer except an open invitation for toxic people to doormat me, which repelled the very people, opportunities, and relationships I claimed to want more than anything (a functional one with myself being at the top of that list).
Reinventing yourself? Yeah, right. I hated myself to the core.
I was a total overcompensating, diseased to please, and insecure mess.
Up until a few years ago, I didn’t understand why I was even here. I had no purpose, no true friends, no money, and no direction. I never felt like I had any real passion, success, or substance. Because of this, I had no self-respect.
And because I had no self-respect, my social anxiety hit a point where even the simplest interactions would make me start to sweat, get incredibly paranoid, and replay everything in my head over and over.
I had dutifully picked up right where the pain of my childhood left off. Because of this, I started to equate people needing me with them wanting to be with me.
Needing is so much easier for the emotionally impaired because it’s predictable. Wanting requires the scariest risk of them all: Vulnerability.
And although vulnerability is the purest form of strength, if you suffer from low self-esteem, it will always be a gamble that you can’t afford.
All I wanted was for someone to hug me and tell me that I wasn’t as forgettable and defective as I felt. I just wanted someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay and that I was loved.
The people in my life who genuinely said those things, I didn’t believe or respect. And the ones who gave it to me in doses that would make an eyedropper seem like a power hose… I gravitated toward, respected, and did everything to please.
Until they inevitably, spit me out after chewing me up.
How was this all happening to me AGAIN? And if I started off broken, how was I even more broken NOW?
I didn’t know how to cut contact with the most toxic relationship of all – the one I had with myself.
I needed a reinvention.
When it comes to knowing how to reinvent yourself…
The only way I ever really reinvented myself in the past was in my relationships. I would take on a role that was comprised of physically, aesthetically, and emotionally “fitting” and superficially accommodating to whoever I was with.
My hobbies, interests, habits, opinions, and style would be altered in some way to cater to the identity of someone who I needed the association with to feel significant.
It sounds really pathetic and sad because it is.
In fact, I took on a different role in every relationship. I did this with different friend groups, with school, grandparents, parents of friends, work… everything but my dog. There was no need to take on an identity with my dog. The relationship that we have with animals is sacred. It’s always pure because it’s exclusively spoken in the most universal and intimate language known to man: Action. This is why dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend.”
I think that reinventing yourself relationally is something that we all do to an extent. It can be fun until it becomes a problem. Adding a false identity to an already missing one is like putting lipstick on a pig. You’ll always feel like a phony.
The key to reinventing yourself isn’t hard and it doesn’t involve any crazy steps. It’s all about your level of hunger to reinvent, your willingness to identify, and the level of belief you have in your innate ability to unsubscribe from your own bullsh*t.
There are so many pointers out there for reinventing yourself: “get out of your comfort zone,” “time management,” “wake up earlier,” “make lists,” “learn from defeat,” “do something that scares you every day,” and so on.
I’ve reinvented myself relationally more times than I can count. I’ve reinvented myself scholastically and professionally so.many.times it’s insane. I’ve gone from barely being able to pay my bills in jobs I hated to doing something that I love. I’ve gone from feeling totally pointless, unnecessary, and worthless to receiving messages like the one pictured above. Today, I respect myself and the confidence that I feel is no longer conditional.
It’s not that I never feel insecure. It’s that the security I feel in knowing that I will always have my own back helps deactivate the normal triggers that WE ALL have.
It’s about reinventing yourself in the only way that will ever count. This way is much easier than any other program or guide, but it’s rarely executed because it’s a lot scarier than time-management or setting your alarm an hour earlier every morning.
I used to be convinced that before I could reinvent, I had to renovate. This belief is basically as pointless as going to get a defective car detailed before you drop it off at the junkyard.
Renovation is great and can be very beneficial. It’s appealing to most people because if you’re too scared to do the work, it’s basically avoidance wrapped in the cloak of progress. And while renovating is a positive thing, you can only renovate a home on shaky foundation enough times until you have to come to terms with the fact that everything needs to be taken down and rebuilt/reinvented.
Reinventing yourself is a habit. And your psyche will respect anything that you make habitual – even the bad. If you make a habit out of allowing your triggers to be your truth, your psyche will begin to respect those triggers at the expense of your destiny.
SAME goes for reinventing yourself. If you make a habit out of it, you’ll start to build self-respect.
The key to reinventing yourself and your life is nothing more than your story.
Before I reinvented myself, I had to first acknowledge my story.
The stories that we tell ourselves and choose to subscribe to are not only what shape our ability/inability to reinvent, but these stories are often our only hope for emotional survival.
Throughout my life, I don’t think that I was ever fully aware of what I was doing but looking back, it’s painfully clear. I had to tell myself a story and I had to choose to subscribe to that story in order to survive trauma, abandonment, and pain that my heart couldn’t make sense of.
I had a lot of un-dealt-with trauma. Most of which stemmed from pain in my childhood. The only way I could ever make sense of losing a loved one, a family member giving me conditional love, a boyfriend cheating on me, being bullied, a friend not choosing me, etc., was by telling myself that the reasons why the trauma occurred was because I wasn’t good enough.
I truly believed that I deserved the pain and abandonment – both from myself and others.
The key to reinventing yourself is identifying your story and understanding that we all tell ourselves and subscribe to these really dysfunctional stories. Not because we want to, but because we have to in order to survive.
The stories that we tell ourselves are all we have. They keep us going and they shape the way we view ourselves, the decisions we make, the people we attract/are attracted to, and our ability to evolve/reinvent ourselves.
At a certain point though, the stories get very old. We either become so worn down that we acquiesce to a lifetime subscription or, we realize that by continuing to subscribe to them, we are hurting ourselves more than anyone else ever has or ever will.
We realize that these subscriptions are disabling our innate ability to reinvent.
And if you can create that much pain, trust me when I say you can create limitless happiness and reinvent yourself beyond your wildest dreams. You can accomplish anything that you want in this life. It’s never too late to reinvent but you’ll never get there if you’re stuck in the minutia of renovation.
Identify your limiting stories and choose to unsubscribe from them. You’ll never regret it. The only thing you’ll ever look back on and regret is being a prisoner to a narrative that was more a reflection of other people’s dysfunction that it ever was one of your value.
Share your story with those who need to hear it. Not as a means to emotionally jerk off, but as a way to help others feel less alone and to solidify the uselessness of that subscription – on your end and theirs.
Written by: Natasha Adamo