As a young girl, I struggled with self-worth, my role within my family and within the world, I lacked effort or interest toward academics, and was often only interested in being someone’s girlfriend, rather than having girlfriends. I am the youngest of three children, raised by loving parents, however, guidance and support were not always available. There was never a question that my parents would be there for any big issue, however, I later realized that it was the attention to all the small daily matters that I needed, as well as, positive relationships with my siblings.
I never viewed my struggles as extremely severe, however, they shaped my life as I grew into my adult years. Ultimately, this created the reason for my pursuit of personal growth and my desire to obtain the tools to move forward with a productive and fulfilling life.
Despite my academic struggles and deeply held insecurities, I worked my way through Community College and then transferred to a University and obtained my Undergraduate Degree. It was this 5 ½ year path that resulted in my decision to apply to Graduate School along with the need to prove that I could also be “accomplished”. Unfortunately, feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy continued to plagued me.
To my surprise, I ultimately obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California (USC) and worked in the Social Work field until I became pregnant and started my next career as a fulltime Mom. Honestly, there was a sense of relief when I was able to quit my job. I was finally able to stop feeling like a fraud because I never felt a sense of belonging professionally. This was the same lack of interpersonal connection that I often felt growing up.
Staying at home to raise my kids was my first priority and a position in life I would never trade. It was the one job that I knew I could do well. When my two boys were both in school full time, I decided to follow my secret childhood interest and go back to school to become an Esthetician. Skin care and Make Up were always a passion but I never had the self-confidence to pursue that goal because it “just wasn’t good enough.” After a few sessions of therapy and ongoing support from my husband, I applied to beauty school…which is what I should have done 30 years ago. However, questioning and resenting my decisions from so long ago wasn’t beneficial to my life.
I would drop my kids off at school, attend my Skin Care classes all day, and then pick my kids up to spend the rest of the day with them. After one year, I became a licensed Esthetician and worked part time, a few days per week, while my kids were in school.
Despite facing my fears and accomplishing goals I never thought were possible, my internal voice remained unkind. Maybe not every day, however, that voice continued to be my biggest critic, even in the surroundings of daily support. It was exhausting and sometimes paralyzing.
After finally making the decision to face my inner critic, I have spent the past several years reading, attending classes and workshops, and speaking with various professionals to better understand how to learn from my experiences, transition into the various stages of life, and turn my struggles into strengths. Not so simply stated, this process has been extremely painful, lonely, rewarding, gratifying, soul-filling and on-going. A dichotomy of emotions.
Today, my sons are ages 17 and 19 and successful student athletes. I have enjoyed 22 years of marriage with my husband and partner in this journey. With much more of my time now available, I am excited to pursue another passion project…sharing what I have learned while also continuing to grow through this process. Learning self-love is like building a muscle, it needs to be worked out every single day.