• Maya Lemaire

One Image, three years and a yearly reminder

3 years ago I drew this picture of where I wanted to go.

I didn't have anything specific in mind as I drew this. All I knew is that I felt surrounded by darkness, like it was pressing in on me and I didn't know where to go. I was lost in this pressure and oppressive weight and I didn't even really know what was causing it. I knew some elements which were weighing on me but many where too buried for me to fully see. The only thing I really new for certain was that I was lost and I was sad.

Each year I share this picture when it pops up in my Facebook memories and each time I feel like I am not quite there. Not quite at the point where I feel like the girl in this image; light, free, happy, content. I do feel lighter each year, like I shed some of the weight that was weighing me down. Each year I feel the freedom the women in the picture is experiencing is close, just beyond my reach but that I can't yet quite grasp it.

This year is no different. I don't think I am quite there yet but It feel even closer than last year, even more tangible. I feel like I have made so much progress form the me who drew this picture three years ago. However, the way I did it wasn't what I originally expected. At the time I drew this I kept looking outside of me for answers. I would research and talk to my mom endlessly about plans and kept thinking at some point an answer would drop into my lap and the torment of not having that answer would dissipate. That at some point I would stumble on the right direction or the thing I was destined to do. There was of course no miraculous cure or solution. No matter how much I searched or hoped for a direction it never came. This is going to sound cheesy but it was in me all along, and cheesy as it may sound it's true! The answer wasn't about finding something somewhere outside of me, it was about looking inwards and sorting through all the stuff that had pilled up and festered there. How was I supposed to even know a sign if I saw one if I didn't even know what made me me anymore? I had lost track of what made me happy, what lit me up with fire and passion. I was overwhelmed and confused in many ways.

I started seeing real improvements when I started to release things I felt I needed to hold on to but didn't actually need to. I released things I thought I had to carry, things that might have been useful to me before but that I no longer needed, and I released rules I imposed on myself that weren't logical, true or needed.

The more I let go of the layers and layers of toxic sludge I had put on myself throughout the years the more lighter I felt. It's astonishing to me now how much I held on to that I didn't need to. How many things I carried with me that had stopped being true long ago or were never really true to begin with.

We are often influenced in some way or another to internalize what is the "right" way to do things, what is the "right" way to go through life, what is the "right" path to success and happiness. I used to think I wasn't affected by those pressures, that I was marching to the beat of my own drum. But, I've found these last few years that while on the surface I felt like there was nothing dictating what I could and couldn't do when I took the time to actually look beyond that surface level there was A LOT of things I had internalized. It took time for me to release those those beliefs and truly believe that there is no "right path" only your own personal path.

I internalized so many outside pressures and made them my truths. I had lost myself in every sense of the word and didn't know what I believed and what I had internalized out of some belief I had to think, act and be a certain way.

I am still wading through an inner journey to differentiate what is mine, what is societies and what belongs to those around me. Let me tell you, if might sound simple in concept but it's darn hard. The more I open myself up to looking at the good, the bad and everything in between the more I learn about myself. Our brains are fascinating things and they tend to hide or suppress things if we are having trouble handling. Kind of like a mechanism of self defense. But the more we avoid facing our inner monsters, doubts and fears the more they grow.

I visualize them growing a bit like layers. Those doubts, fears, inner monsters, etc, grow over time and each time it grows it's like adding a layer to the original doubt/fear/monster. When you finally start the work of facing those problems it takes time to peel back each layer until you get to the core of the issue. Kind of like a messed up version of the telephone game. Sometimes the message/issue is clear from the start, sometimes each layer was changed slightly as it was added until it's morphed into something completely unrelated to the initial fear/concern.

Rounding back to the picture, when I saw a notification on my social media of this picture with the caption "you posted this 3 years ago" it made me realize how far I have come. It made me realize how many damn layers I have already pealed back and discarded. It made me realized how much less weight I have weighing on me day in an day out. It made me reflect on what I need to do to keep moving forward and how close I am to getting rid of the last few big inner blocks that are stopping me from fully living and enjoying my life.

We never really stop improving and growing as humans. I don't believe I will miraculously turn into the girl pictures below and magically everything will click and be sunshine and rainbows.

What this picture represents to me is someone who has let go of the unneeded things weighing her down. Someone who wakes up an feels light, not like she is wading through a sea of her own making. Someone who is content and ready to seize the next adventure.

I know this person is in me, that I am this person, but I also know I still have some things to work through and let go. And that's OK! My sister loves this workout program and their motto is "progress not perfection" and I have made A LOT of progress! I am going to keep striving to make progress until I feel like I have broken through all those self imposed barriers and can learn to just be me, no matter what that ends up looking like.

This might take a long time, it might be something I always work on in some shape or form. I don't think we can ever be truly rid of all inner turmoil, barriers or pain, but we can learn to accept them and live with them in a different way.

I am so proud of where I am now and what I have achieved so far. I'm no longer waiting for the answer to come to me, I am working each day to find the answer for myself. I am working each day to live in the now and follow what makes me happy. I am learning to listen to myself and follow the things which make me feel happy and light instead of following what logic or past beliefs tell me should make me feel happy and light.

I like to leave these types of posts by turning the conversation back to you. I encourage you to take a look at a picture of you 3 years ago. If you are an artist in some shape or form go look at something you created 3 years ago. Then I want you to think to yourself, what progress have I made? It could be any type of progress! Progress in anxiety, happiness, financial stability, in your art, etc. You can do this however you want, but one option would be to make a row of numbers 1-5 or 1-10 and challenge yourself to write something which has improved in your life for each number.

Be kind to yourself as you do this. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in place but when you actually take the time to look and tell your inner negative voice to shut up for a moment you can be surprised to realize how much you really have achieved. Most people don't take the time to stop and think; "what have I achieved lately". Many of us are too focused on what comes next, too focused on the next thing we want to tick off our list of hopes, dreams and goals, to really fully appreciate what we have already accomplished.

It's also important to remember that sometimes progress and achievements are not tangible or visible to the human eye. Sometimes no one sees that progress but you because you are the one living it, but that doesn't make that those achievements any less valid or important.

If you do decide to do this challenge and want to share your thoughts or even your list of achievements please do! We are all works in progress and we can only move forward by being kind to ourselves and by taking things one step at a time. Thank you for taking the time to read, and until next time, be kind, be you, and make the most of your life's story. Your Friend, Maya Lemaire.

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