28 Jul I am Enough from Karen Walrond
When I was young, I was told many truths about myself:
“Your lips are really huge. You need to keep that in mind when you start wearing makeup.”
“You’re not an artist, silly girl. You’re too analytical.”
“You’re far too sensitive.”
I was also a smart girl, a studious girl. So I approached all these messages that I was receiving in the same way I approached my schoolwork: I internalized them. And I did whatever it took to fix them.
I spent decades cutting my hair completely off, or, if it was longer, using harsh chemicals to straighten it to within an inch of its life.
I carefully applied lipstick to the inside of my natural lipline, in muted brown colours in an effort to make their heavy shape optically disappear within my face.
I abandoned my artistic dreams in favour of more analytical pursuits.
I hid my tendency for tears that came far too easily under a snarky, cynical mask, honing a talent for testy, cutting humour.
For a long time, I had a really successful life, living this way. I got good jobs, I traveled in popular circles, and I Looked The Part. And then one day, I realized …
… I was exhausted.
Though on paper I appeared to have a good life, the truth was that I was positively miserable. And so, in my usual studious and analytical form, I sat down and took stock of my life. I tried to figure out what it was that was making me so unhappy, and how it could even be possible that i was unhappy, even though I Did Everything I Was Supposed to Do. Then one day, it finally dawned on me:
I could not have been put on this Earth to work this hard at being an individual.
This concept felt like an epiphany, and yet I wasn’t sure what to do with this newfound knowledge. I actually ended up thinking about this for several years: how could I possibly change my life, especially in light of the fact that my youth had taught me that my individuality was so deeply flawed?
Then one day, I was talking with my friend Laurie, and she said to me words that changed my life: “Create your own story. Don’t let others create it for you.”
I thought about all the truths I’d been told about myself.
My lips are really huge, I need to keep that in mind when using makeup — but maybe, large as my lips are, they’re designed perfectly for my face and my smile. Maybe, when I use makeup, I should show them off accordingly.
I’m not an artist, I’m analytical — except maybe I am an artist, just not by the definition of those who have too narrow a definition of “art.” Maybe there are ways to combine all my analytical training of my past with an exploration of new artistic mediums — not necessarily paints, but maybe photography. And writing. Maybe I can create a new art.
I’m far too sensitive — but maybe, if I use it for good and not evil, my sensitivity is actually my superpower.
It still remains to be seen whether my new outlook on life will bring me success, but if my happier, calmer state of mind is any indication, the prognosis is great. Regardless, the upshot is that because of my new approach, I’ve become absolutely certain of one thing:
I am enough.
About Karen Walrond