Discovering Me!Jul 31, 2022 01:58PM ● By Joe Dunne
Early in my life, I learned that I did not measure up. I wasn’t as tough as the guys on the streets, as smart as the kids in my class, or a great athlete.
Despite making believe that it did not hurt, being constantly chosen last in the playground when picking sides for stickball, boxball, baseball or football never really felt okay. It scared me and left a mark in white every time I closed my eyes. My frame of reference became ‘you’—your opinion of me became more important than my opinion of me and the outside world became my god.
Learning life as you grow on your own is difficult. My thinking was always ‘not as good as’. How do you reverse that balance? How do I get cemented in my head that although you matter, and your opinion matters, I do not need your approval to validate who I am. Learning life on my own left me closed in, wrapped in my beliefs—and my beliefs were all wrong.
The effects of those formulative years designed my future. Always having to prove I was capable despite not really believing it. The inability to share my feelings, to express myself or tell my truth was a catastrophe for the next few decades and added layers of fear, low self-esteem and isolation. Life without purpose is hard. Not knowing who you are, not having the ability to define oneself—your character, your honesty, what you stand for—is miserable.
So, I became a performer, built walls, told lies, exaggerated stories. Everything I did was to seek approval. I did not even know what the truth was because I’d rolled stories out so many times to so many people. The me I had become also hurt—no real friendships, one empty soul.
How did I get to who I am today? What did it take? Well, some of it was me, but most of it was the people that appeared in my life.
My change was in direct proportion to understanding that it was up to me to decide to change. In other words, get unstuck. Start living life. Fight the fear. Act for me. Drop the negative, think positive and believe I could. Tired of living in a circle of doubt, I had to decide to look at myself, allow others to tell me their opinions, read books, go to a psychologist, get involved in self-help seminars, trust people, take risks, journal my feelings, my life, and be vulnerable. I knew that beliefs were so powerful that people go to war over two separate belief systems. “I Believe in Me” had to be my mantra.
Change, as they say, takes time. Progress is a day-to-day adventure of adding layer upon layer of proper thinking, new information and staying in the moment. I had to start believing in what I always knew—that I was a good human being, I decided to uncover me. In the beginning I did not know how. I had the desire, but I had to get over the fear of looking inside. Always worried that I was a mess.
Over time I learned that working on me every day, improving, believing, going forward, seeing the possibilities of life, and not being scared, was the best decision I have ever made for me. I like who I am, who I have become, but it is because of the people that guided me and made me believe. Thy put me back together. Way short of perfect, but very content.
In peace, love and laughter,
Joe Dunne, Publisher