The academic semester ended and grades were assigned; my oldest completed her undergraduate degree; my son made it through another semester in his undergraduate program; my vegetable and ornamental gardens were planted; my business commitments were manageable and comfortable; I was weeks away from a family vacation so no rushing. So, I observed myself. Well, at least this time and self-talked, “Michelle, don’t fill the time just because you have it.” So I pondered over the past few months.
The winter was a long one. I had to take another close look at myself as I forever and imperfectly reach toward the vision of striking the balance of finding and achieving voice for myself and others.
My first book in the early 2000’s — Adventures of a Mainstream Metaphysical Mom, Finding Peace of Mind in a World of Diverse Ideas — was 200+ pages of coming out of the closet. My rawest — I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take it anymore — public voice put me in the vulnerable position of being found out. I could no longer pretend to be someone I wasn’t. Returning to the academic world and attending Graduate school with the intention of teaching composition and writing re-ignited my search for a new normal and brought back old insecurities.
Emotionally regressing with each course, I began to feel like I should hide my wholistic and integrative work, my personality, dress differently to reflect another type of image, and even felt defensive at times. I was losing myself when in the academic environment (like I did in corporate America). Again. Other equivalent comparisons could be: connecting with high school chums decades later and how the emotional self responds; bumping into a former lover; running into someone who has not seen you at your best.
By my third year in Graduate school I made a decision, then another, then another. First I proclaimed, “I will quit the program after 18 hours” (a minimum requirement to teach in community college). “I’ve had it…!”
I progressed to, “I will share who I am as a person and my work as a wholistic professional with the understanding that I won’t be a fit in certain environments. I am not all things to all people.” Then www.MichellePaytonWriter.com was born.
I didn’t do this alone, however. This decisive semester, the Graduate professor that I was fortunate enough to experience dedicated hours of time to help me see through the eyes of “the” (conspiratorial) academics. This didn’t mean agreement, just comprehension. In one of my earlier blogs I share a thought on aligning up to aspire toward a new behavior. This is more about understanding others’ positions to have a firmer understanding of who I am (or am not) within other contexts or worlds.
When I lost my footing my self-confidence and coping skills were short-circuited. Once I re-established how I fit or didn’t, my proverbial posture straightened. Researching self-acceptance, psychologists have observed that those owning who they are have more effective processes to deal with difficulties (rather than self-medicating, for instance), have a stronger sense of purpose, and more easily achieve goals (Wright, 2008). But, be warned, this isn’t measured by approval of a large population of people.
Feeling good enough is one of the keys to finding new normals and comes with knowing that we do the best we can with the information that we have at the time. Similar thoughts are shared in a Psychology Today article more extensively, with a suggestion that even our off-color behaviors are simply reactions to the intellectual, biological, and environment tools we have at the points of experiences (Seltzer, 2008).
The MA-losophy buck, for me, stops with the idea that I am saving myself and others time when I own and they witness my normal. It’s tweaked regularly (we never step in the same stream twice) with infinite daily experiences, but essential elements remain the same. If witnesses don’t like what they see…? Well… I forever and imperfectly continue to reach toward the vision of striking the balance of finding voice.
To learn more about my mind over matter practice go to www.MichellePayton.com. Speak to you soon.
Seltzer, L.F. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/200809/the-path-unconditional-self-acceptance
Wright, K. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200804/dare-be-yourself