I was 22 when I experienced my first real moment of self-awareness.
I’ve had several other “aha!” moments since then, but this was my first – and by far the most substantial.
Throughout my high school years and into my twenties, I found it difficult to make decisions. I was always second guessing myself and I never felt confident in anything I did or thought. From this low self-esteem I developed a nasty habit of lying and manipulating the truth. The more I did it, the easier it became.
It’s been said that liars often have difficulty separating reality with the lies they create. That’s because once a lie leaves your lips, it takes on a life of it’s own. If you feed it, it grows, until eventually you forget it was a lie to begin with. I know for a fact that this is true. I believed that I was a decent person despite this behavior, because I was buried in a false reality. Underneath all of the deceitfulness, I was really just searching for acceptance.
In one night… everything changed.
I was home alone in an apartment that I shared with my boyfriend at the time. The power had gone out during a storm, and I only had my thoughts and my phone (which then, was a non-colored flip phone) to keep me company. I received a random phone call from a friend of a friend just as I was falling asleep. To this day, I still don’t know his real reason for calling, OR even why I answered, but the conversation we had CHANGED MY LIFE.
It couldn’t have happened any other night, in any other location, at any other hour. My heart was open for just a moment in time, willing to listen. Ready to accept the truth.
I didn’t know him very well; we had only hung out a handful of times with other friends, but he saw me – he saw right through me.
The questions he asked and the observations he shared with me about myself were ruthless yet somehow, thoughtful. Sympathetic. They gently hit me like a ton of bricks.
And then suddenly, I was conscious. I was aware. It was as if I had just awaked from a state of hypnosis. I no longer wanted to be this person, I wanted to change. I wanted to be better. And I couldn’t bear to wait another minute.
Without hesitation and almost impatiently, I ended our conversation, and one by one, began calling everyone I had been lying to… everyone I had been hurting and manipulating. Which was basically everyone I knew. I felt so intensely compelled to tell the truth that I didn’t allow myself even a moment to stop and think. I told the guy I was dating/living with (whom I really wasn’t into at all to be honest) that I wanted to break up and that I was interested in someone else. I told the guy I was interested in that I lied about having a boyfriend, among other things. I told my best friend of seven years that I couldn’t stand by and watch her date a guy who treated her like shit (we didn’t talk for ten years after that, but that’s another story). I told several of my friends the things I had said or done at their expense. I uncovered so many truths and revealed so much about myself that once I was finished, I had nothing left. I had no one left. I had removed every layer, every mask. I was naked and raw.
I lost nearly all of my friends that night and smashed some meaningful relationships. It turned out that no one liked who I was underneath all of the lies. No one liked the person I was – not even me.
My only option was to start over.
And I did.
I stopped lying. I stopped manipulating. It was almost as if I couldn’t bring myself to do these things anymore, out of fear that I would revert back to the person I hated.
I started owning my truths. I started being honest and real, and as I did, my confidence grew. I began to like myself.
I started to attract different kinds of people because I valued myself and my opinions. Amid the debris of the toxic life I had just shattered, I uncovered this resolute foundation that was waiting for me to build upon it the person I was meant to be.
Sometimes we lose ourselves underneath the mistakes and choices we’ve made, and the habits we’ve developed over time. Sometimes we let our fears and desires take the wheel, and we don’t know how to regain control.
Sometimes we have to do the thing we are most afraid to do, something that will cause us to feel pain like we’ve never felt before, to change our direction. To discover who we really are. To become our best selves.