Shedding the Template

Welp. 2013 has begun, and I haven't made any official resolutions. I've tossed some around in my head, but without anything concrete, it's hard to hold myself accountable. I plan on attempting to do the usual (eat better, exercise more, get more sleep, etc.), but I have some big goals for this year, and in order to reach them, there is a blanket resolution that needs to be addressed: Be Rachel.

hermosa beach sunset

This is going to be my theme for the year, and it's vague enough that it can encompass many, smaller resolutions. I got the idea from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project fame. I've readThe Happiness Project twice now, and both times, her concept of "being Gretchen" really stuck with me. Actually being myself in all ways, shapes, and forms is a foreign concept to me, not because I don't believe myself to be authentic (I do), but because being myself doesn't generally make me content. The times it makes me the most content is when other people are pleased by an authentic moment of mine, and I feel accepted. But there are plenty of other times when I feel pressure to be someone else, or shame about being true to myself and then being rejected because of it, and those are the times that stand out more to me, and set up this constant struggle to be someone I'm not. I'm always battling with myself about what "myself" is. And surprise, surprise: that battle never gets me anywhere.

So I am officially declaring this the Year of Rachel.

It could also be known as the Year of Caring Less. Not the Year of Becoming Apathetic, mind you. Apathetic is something I will never be. But something needs to be done about the way I view myself in relation to the world around me. Right now I am struggling through it. I am letting my own fears drown me, and a large number of those fears hinge on what every single other person in the world will think. It's gotten so that what I think about all of the work I do reflects the opinions and reactions that I have falsely projected onto other people.

In other words, I assume people are thinking badly about everything I do, which in turn makes me think badly about everything I do, which in turn makes me assume even worse things about what other people think. All from the original assumption that I conjured myself out of thin air.

hermosa beach sunset

This is all a very long-winded way of getting to my point, which is this: the first step of the Year of Rachel is going to be to shed the preconceived template I have lodged in my brain about how things should be done.

I read other peoples' life stories and I make them my templates, forgetting that when those stories were being written, they didn't have a template; they just happened.

I struggle not only with past templates that I feel I need to emulate, but with templates being set right here and now, by my peers.

I am so constantly trying to live up to certain templates that I cease to be true to myself, which is only a set-up for failure. And not the good, growth-spurring kind of failure, but the soul-sucking kind that keeps me frozen in time, unable to learn and develop and become something greater than I am now.

There are specific people that have become my own worst inner critics, without even saying a word themselves. Some of you probably even read this blog. You are the people I wish most to be like, who are wise and talented and seemingly calm, who articulate thoughts in a manner I'm not sure I'll ever be capable of, whose bodies don't seize up with anxiety from the moment their brain becomes conscious in the morning.

Once again, all assumptions. But regardless of their validity, I have created a template based off of those assumptions, and as a result, never feel truly whole. And that's not your fault. It's mine. I force your voices to say things in my head that you would probably (hopefully) never say; things that are cruel enough that only I could really say them to myself. I can't live up to your templates, because they're not mine to live up to. They're not me. I am me. I am my own template.

hermosa beach sunset

My template, as of right now, consists of enough neuroses to fill all of the oceans of the world.

It consists of being exuberantly emotional to the point where "wearing my heart on my sleeve" is not an adequate enough descriptor of my mental condition.

It consists of an intense desire to share how I am feeling, not for the sake of pity, but for the sake of relating to others.

It consists of an intense desire to live every moment to the fullest, and the subsequent paralyzation that comes from realizing that that's not necessarily possible.

It consists of just being intense, period.

And that can be overwhelming. It almost always is. But it becomes more overwhelming when I bottle it up inside of me and try to tame myself for the sake of people I'm just meeting for the first time, or for the sake of the blogosphere and other peoples' opinions. Even now, I'm considering not publishing this post, because what will they think? But I'm only hurting myself by not being myself. Nothing I do will ever be legitimate until I do it fully and completely as Rachel.

So bye-bye, old templates. Here's to my template, my story, my life.

Here's to the Year of Rachel.

Happy weekend!