The Stories We Tell Ourselves

For years and years, I believed I was destined to live in chaos.

Clothes piled on chairs, mail sitting in stacks on the kitchen table, lost items making a new home in the corner of my bedroom floor. I wasn’t dirty, but I was messy. I was a messy person. That’s the way I was as a child, the way I was as a teenager, and that was the way I’d spend adulthood.

But then something miraculous happened: I moved into a new apartment. And it stayed clean.

It stayed clean?

It stayed CLEAN.

???!!!?!?!?!?!

Reader, I don’t know how to properly convey how earth-shattering this realization was. I could be that person who took 10 minutes before bed to tidy up her space? I could be that person who straightened her pillows, or threw the mail away immediately after opening it? I could… regularly vacuum? Impossible!

And yet.

A new version of me was being born. Here I was, ready to tackle the world with my Windex and paper towels in hand. Peeling back a layer of myself and discovering that this existed made me curious. What other stories had I believed about myself? What other boxes had I fit myself into my mind, halting my growth?

The answers began to reveal themselves.

During the height of the pandemic, when I still worked at home, I used that newfound time to scroll on Pinterest and pin recipe after recipe. But you hate cooking, I told myself. You’ve always hated cooking. You hate grocery shopping. You hate all the prep for just 5 minutes of happiness.

And yet.

I expanded my culinary horizons so much during that time. I told myself I could be the person who plays around with food, who thinks of it as FUN to explore. For the first time, I didn’t think of cooking as a burden. I tried so many different recipes: some complete failures… but some awesome successes. I am in no way great at cooking now, but I am a heck of a lot better than I was in March 2020. And more than that, I am now someone who sees the joy in cooking. (When I have the time, that is.)

The same happened with school! When I started my Masters, I was convinced I’d be the same type of student I was from kindergarten through college. I knew I’d be a procrastinator, I’d probably not read the textbooks, I’d be quiet in all my classes. I’d be average, and that’s all. After 16 years of schooling, why would I believe any different?

And yet.

The small class sizes allowed me to participate in ways that surprised me everyday. The structures of the class challenged me, forcing me to stay on top of my work at all times. And the material thrilled me. I loved being one class closer to my dream career, knowing I was exactly where I should be.

Now here I am. Growing. Rewriting the stories I’ve told myself my whole life.

So, Reader, I’m curious. What stories have you been telling yourself?

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