I never felt worthy.
No one ever sat me down and looked me dead in the eyes and told me that I wasn’t worthy, but the feeling was there nonetheless. I guess I was born feeling not good enough. For as long as I can remember, I have been consumed with fear and feelings of inadequacy. I have always felt small and insignificant. When I was a child, I was very small physically. I was always the smallest girl in my class and on my team. But I felt small in other ways, too. I felt unworthy of the praise of my teachers when they would tell my mother that I was smart and kind. It wasn’t that I believed myself to be unintelligent and selfish, rather the opposite, but I felt unworthy of the praise and mentioning of such attributes. My natural love language has always been “Words of Affirmation,” but while I crave praise and loving words, I have never felt worthy of them.
Growing up a gypsy did not help matters; I was born into a military family and we moved around the country every few years. I do not regret nor wish away my childhood, but some parts of it were hard. I have never made friends easily. Not because I don’t like people, but because I like them too much. I feel too much. I crave their attention and affection and approval. Maybe it is my poet soul, but I feel everything more intensely than most people.
While most people feel a few drops of rain, I feel the entire hurricane.
My family generally provided me an umbrella though. My parents always told me that I could do anything I wanted to. “You want to go to the moon?” my dad asked. So he helped me learn about astronauts and told me about space. “You want to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke with the boys?” So he signed me up for basketball and told me not to let my height be a distractor. “You want to write poetry and be the poet who paints pictures in the minds of others?” my mom asked. So she bought me anthologies of the greatest classic poets and sent me to college to earn a degree in literature. “You want to open a Coffeeshop even though you don’t drink coffee?” Certainly my parents thought that I was crazy so maybe different times in my life.
I have never lived a crazy, reckless life like some people. I never partied much in high school or college because I was too afraid. I was afraid of other people and myself. I have an extremely addictive personality and thankfully I understood that given the opportunity, I would easily become an alcoholic and addict. I knew that there were avenues that would numb my mind and heart so that I would not have to constantly feel so much. I knew those avenues well, but I suppose that is for another post. I did other things to numb the emotions, but thankfully I never relied on drugs and booze. I know too many people who sought refuge down those paths and never returned.
I wanted to blaze my own path.
2016 brought so many changes to my life. I have always done whatever it takes to make people happy, but this year I learned that I deserved to put myself first sometimes. That is a terrifying thing to start. I have always been a dreamer, but my feeling of inadequacy never let those dreams take flight. My dreams stayed nestled in tiny compartments that I painstakingly organized in my heart. Each in a small compact box labeled in looping penmanship never going to happen.
One of those boxes was my Coffeeshop. I frequently added things to that small box. I would come up with something else that related to it, but I would quickly shove those thoughts into the box without opening more than the very edge. I had to move the now bulging box around to different corners of my heart because it kept growing. One day I dared to breathe life into by voicing its existence to someone else. All it once it was too alive to keep hidden in the dusty attic of my heart. It took flight. It became real and possible.
Until the doubts crept in and set up camp. They took residence in my mind like they have my entire life. I did have some people in my corner who tried to sweep the doubts away, but even more people who fed and clothed the doubts. Not many people believed in me. Many people tried to talk me out of it. Many told me that I was in over my head. Many told me that I would regret it. Many pointed out all of the things I was doing wrong. The list goes on and on. The doubts in my mind believed these people immediately. The doubts grew and grew and I went to many meetings with strangers beaten down and broken. But I kept on.
My boxes of dreams were alive and could never go back to being silent. 2016 opened those tiny boxes of dreams and released those hidden dreams to the world. Along with said dreams, my inner demons were released as well. I was forced to confront things that I had stacked up beside the dreams. Unlike the boxes of dreams, the skeletons and demons were packed away haphazardly in broken and battered cardboardboxes hastily shoved into the farthest corners of my soul where I hoped no one could see them. Not even myself. But 2016 opened those boxes and released everything restrained inside of them. 2016 was a year of freedom. I took dreams and made plans. I took those plans and set goals. I took those goals and accomplished them.
My Coffeeshop not only exists, it is thriving. It has allowed my boxes of creativity to flourish. It has invited and held love that makes the walls burst at their seems. It has not been without heartache and blood, sweat, tears. It has required patience and forgiveness and trust. It has demanded more out of me than I ever thought I could give.
But it gave me a new lease on life.
I still have doubts and I still feel tethered by feelings of being inadequate and unworthy, but I acknowledge them now. I name them and give life to my dreams that now fly too high to be anchored.
2016 set the bar high for 2017.