You may have seen on LinkedIn all the great articles written answering the question
“What advice would you give your 22 year old self?”
It really got me thinking (especially since 22 was a long time ago for me !)
I was trying to put myself in the head-space I occupied when I was younger and get a sense of how different I was then. I wasn’t so much caught up in the physical differences, as there’s not much I can do about that! , but really got to thinking about the mind-set differences between the “me” then, and the “me” now.
One of the things I noticed, that is substantially different, is how I now feel free to be me.
I have a distant memory, from the age of about 12 or 13, of when I started to feel self-conscious. Through my teenage years it had more and more of a stranglehold on me. The pressure to look a certain way, to dress a certain way, to react a certain way.. all to belong to ‘the in-group’.
I remember feeling restricted, constrained, quietened down and held back, all for the reward of being free to be part of ‘the in-group’. How ironic!
As I moved through my education and in to my working life, it didn’t change. I continued to imprison the real me to ensure I would get the job or get the award or get the promotion. I was always ambitious and so I managed to achieve a lot early on in my career. At a young age, in my early 20’s, I was leading up teams of people in big budget projects for major engineering companies. In my mind at the time, I was free to earn a high income and live the high life. All the time being in a career I didn’t want to be in!
I moved on to get married and have a family while holding down my career. I started to try and be like other mothers are, part domestic goddess (thanks Nigella for showing us up), part best child developer ever ( thanks Dr Phil) and of course totally the best wife, carer and housekeeper (thanks Mam), all of which I am not!
While I tried to morph myself in to what success looked like in magazines, I was doing so at the cost of my freedom. My freedom to be me!
Then I hit my 40’s….
Time to wake up and smell the freedom!
I belonged to a whole new group. The 40’s group.
I had to check out how I needed to be to ensure I belonged to ‘that group’. Great news, this was the group for me
What I love about people in the 40’s group :
- they appear to care less about what others think of them (freeing)
- they are great at rewarding themselves for their achievements – even if the achievement is simply making it to the end of the week (freeing)
- they have found their groove – they know what they like and don’t like ( freeing)
- they know who to spend time with – out with the emotional vampires ( freeing)
- they know how to choose real friends (freeing)
- they know the true value of their well-being ( physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) (freeing)
Oh the list could go on and on…
Of course some people younger than 40 also experience this freedom. For me, I had to wait for the big 4 0 to truly reward myself with membership of the ‘Free to Be ME’ club.
My advice to me in my teens, twenties and thirties – don’t wait until your 40 to join the ‘FREE to Be ME club’. You got your membership card the day you were born. Use it NOW.
I would definitely pay more attention to the lyrics from George Michael’s song “Freedom 1990”
To enjoy the full experience of this song – listen to it below
“I won’t let you down
so please don’t give me up
because I would really, really love to stick around…”
If you’d like become a member of the ‘FREE to be ME’ club, it’s simple….
Stop pretending to be someone you’re not. Be yourself and be free!
Thanks for reading this post. You may like to check out other recent posts I’ve written as a LinkedIn Publisher
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