A Life Lesson I Wish I Knew At Sixteen
That’s me in middle showing my undies with my two sisters.
I had time this holiday to think about some of things I have wasted time on (shhesh the list was long).
But one of the things that stuck out was probably the biggest life lesson I had to learn, self-love.
This may be a little too personal for some of you so please feel free to click off here.
When I was sixteen I lived in Port Macquarie and in theory was having the time of my life. I had great friends, my first boyfriend and a bike that I pedaled from one end of our town to the other, I felt as free as a bird.
In those days I would creep into my brother’s bedroom when he was out (he was the only one with a full length mirror), turn my back to the mirror and angst about the width of my ankles. My bestie had long lean legs with pretzel thin ankles and mine weren’t shaping up anywhere near close to hers. When I was done with my ankles I would turn around and with all my muscle power I could summon I would try my best to create a gap between my legs like the glam girls with long legs at the beach. This was the beginning of many years of comparing myself to others.
On the odd time my mother would catch me, she would tell me that ‘one day you will realize how lucky you are to have strong legs that will carry you through life’.
Hey, I was sixteen as though I was going to listen to my mum!
Not long after my sixteenth birthday my little world fell apart, my dad had a transfer in his job to Sydney and we were all wrenched out of our happy little ‘surfie’ lives in Port Macquarie.
My brothers and sisters were all at different ages, one stayed and the others were young enough to move on but when I hit Sydney my life stopped. I mean literally stopped. I reasoned, I already had life long friends in Port Macquarie, I had been to 3 schools by this stage and no longer wanted to try.
For the best part of the next 5 years I shut down, I made no friends, didn’t have a boyfriend, I refused to get involved with life and skirted around it’s edges, doing the minimum I needed to get by.
Fortunately in my twenties I found a job I loved in marketing and slowly I found a world in the big city were I fitted. I met great people and started a new chapter of my life.
But something was always missing. My self-esteem by this time had taken a battering, the carefree years of a teenager were missing and I did the best I could to cobble together some sort of ‘mask’ that I was together on the outside but on the inside I was still that girl crying in the backseat of the car as my family drove away from my safe place.
I did a dangerous thing, I started to put my self-esteem in the care of others, men.
How I felt about myself was based on how men saw me, treated me, loved me and then eventually left me.
My self-esteem plummeted from one failed relationship to another.
By the time I was 32 I had ‘wasted’ a good half of my adult life not knowing who I was and not feeling the power that you can feel when you believe in yourself.
Things got so bad I could no longer sleep at night, I would drag myself to work, work in a daze and then an exhausted mess head to bed for another sleepless night. I started to take sleeping tablets and things just got worse. This went on for years.
I was lucky, my day of reckoning came and I decided to do something about how bad things had become and found my way to a great bunch (by this stage I needed a whole team!) of healers.
Over time they taught me to value and love myself, to take care of myself, not give everything away to others as I had always done and keep something for myself. I learnt my boundaries and stuck to them.
And then I had an appointment with The Indian Guru. By this stage I was done, I was sick of talking about me, I had re-learnt to sleep (after having wiped out my sleep memory with sleeping tablets) and I felt I could deal with this on my own. One of the kind people who had helped me so much insisted I see the Guru and in one session of 1 hour my life truly changed.
The Guru read my mind and not once did I open my mouth, I cried, he talked and he promised when I walked out of the room I would be different. He moved more energy than a nuclear bomb.
I didn’t even make it to my car before a stream worse than someone afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome hurled from my mouth. For the first time I can remember I was truly angry, I sat in my car and yelled, screamed and swore. All of a sudden I could ‘see’. Twenty years of angst was gone, those boyfriends appeared weak, frail and un-worthy and in that moment I couldn’t understand why I had wanted to be with them.
But most importantly I could see me. I could see that the kindness was more important than the size of my ankles, I could see that the empathy I had for others was far more important than the gap (or no gap) between my legs, I could see that the goodness outweighed any physical faults and my intelligence was alive and well. My mother after all was right!
I was going to need those strong ‘Munro’ legs for the life I was about to embark on.
From that day forward I have never compared myself to others, I have never looked outwards for my self-esteem but allowed it to be nurtured from inside.
I only realized once I had healed my low self-esteem how much it had held me back, how it had stopped me from living the life that was waiting for me and the difference when your true power flows into your bones and sticks.
I couldn’t hang around my old life for much longer and some of you already know the end to this story but eventually I hopped on a plan to find a new life as a photographer in Italy as told in Italian Joy.
A funny coincidence whilst waiting for a plane to Italy was finding a book by John Gray called How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have, his booked explained what happened to me when I missed out on my teenage years. I was relieved, according to Mr. Gray at different stages of our lives we need different kinds of love and I had missed a biggie. Without correcting it I couldn’t move forward. Hallelujah, there was a reason for all of this.
So dear friends, if you are 16, 20, 25, 30 or 60, the age isn’t important, if you too feel you haven’t yet met the real you or tapped into your true self don’t wait a minute longer. Find someone to lead you out of the maze and allow you to be who you were meant to be.
Remember kindness is more important than the width of your ankles and your mother was probably right!
Love and kisses and I hope this wasn’t too much after a long summer.