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Keep All Your Puzzle Pieces

Date tu puesto en esta vida!

This is a Spanish expression that my grandmother used to say. The loose translation is “claim your place in this life!” But it's the message, the meaning of these words that matters. Old-school Hip-Hop culture coined the term TURFing, which was an acronym for Taking Up Room on the Floor. You’ll likely also recognize Work it, own it! and more recently Do You, boo! All of these are expressions from vastly different cultures, languages and generations, yet all have the same very important message: stand your ground, proudly be yourself, exactly as you are, no apologies!

Have you ever witnessed one of your friends - or <gasp!> yourself - being the strongest, most powerful and rock solid individual you’ve ever met, right up until the moment you get into romantic relationships? Suddenly, you're acting differently. It seems like whenever you're with your significant other, a switch is silently flipped, often even unbeknownst to you. We stop asserting ourselves or standing up for what we want or believe. We go along with things we don’t really want, like or agree with, we make more concessions than is healthy, we pretend we’re cooler, smarter, funnier, more athletic, more easy-going… All for what? To appear to that S.O. that we’re someone we’re not? I’m not saying it’s impossible to stay true to one’s self while in a relationship. Sadly, however, it has proven quite difficult across many generations. Ugh! Why??? Well, just know you're not alone. We’ve all been there, done that!

Humans are vessels of full-range-emotion. We are joyful, sad, angry, afraid, powerful, insecure, compassionate, impatient, strong… and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We have the capacity to experience this wide range of emotions, and we can experience many at once. It's a blessing to be able to feel so many emotions, to have the experience of such a diverse mixture of traits and feelings. So, here’s the question: Why do people get judged as “weak" or "crazy" or "too emotional" for simply feeling these various feelings? Fear, joy, power, compassion, impatience, strength and more -- all are critical pieces of our complex puzzle, and without any one of these gems, the puzzle would be incomplete!

Insecurity is a basic trait of humanity. Everyone feels it. It doesn’t go away no matter how much self-help work or evolving we’ve done. And that’s okay! We do not have to pretend to be (or not be) something we’re not, or hide things from others (spouses, partners, friends, moms, dads, siblings, bosses) just so they will think we’re “chill” or “cool” or whatever. Blech! Insecurities, fear, things we do or say that we later wish we could rewind and take back -- those things are some of our core pieces, they will always there, and they WILL continue to visit from time to time. What are those core pieces? Well, they include what we consider “good” things, like our creativity, independence, strength, humor, resourcefulness, etc. And yes, they ALSO include what we consider “bad” things, like our fears, insecurities popping-up unexpectedly, our “crazy,” etc. What rings most true for me after 50+ years of experiences and deliberate evolution, is that - try as we might - we don’t ever completely shed the most core pieces of ourselves. Frankly, it's unfair to even expect that of ourselves, because the reality is we don’t get to pick and choose which to keep and which to shed. Yes, of course, we can work to curtail some while enhancing others, but after all those years of misguided attempts to permanently banish what we considered "the bad stuff," I assert it's time to welcome those traits back in and KEEP ALL OUR PUZZLE PIECES! Instead of trying to hide the things we don’t like about ourselves (so 1945!), we should be PROUD of every single trait! Yes, I mean that! It’s [way past] time to be REAL about the fact that it's all part of who we are, and to live authentically from THAT place. Now I can imagine you thinking "Oh hell no! No way am I going to show my crazy!" Well I have two responses to that. First, I totally get it. Second (although I hate to be the bearer of bad news), everyone has already seen it! Yup. But wait! There's good news... The good news is, thanks to all the workshops, books, slumber parties, yoga, therapy, meditation, crystals, wine, nag champa incense (okay, yeah, maybe too much of that!), many of us have arrived in a place where we no longer live or linger with the insecurities, crazy thoughts, and other not-so-powerful emotions or behaviors. We have developed coping skills, and we have gained grace and peace within, which empower us to feel those feelings for a moment (maybe a few moments, maybe a day, maybe more), acknowledge them for what they are, and then swiftly put them aside and move forward with our day and our lives. We are no longer compelled to react to them, or become consumed by them, as we used to. Therein lies our TRUE growth and development. So no more apologizing for the pieces and parts of you that make you the wonderful, unique, special YOU that you are, okay? Okay, thanks! I hereby validate our feelings, and proclaim we are not obligated to hide our crazy, our insecurities, our fears… especially not at this point in life, when we’ve come so far in Claiming. Our. Place.

Date tu puesto!

Nice job! I see you. 👊🏽

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