Stop Asking Permission To Live Your Life
For a long time, I struggled with my identity. Growing up, I had this one image in my mind of who I wanted to be. I envisioned myself as the type of person who demanded the room’s attention when I walked through the door without having to speak a single word. I saw myself as a strong and confident CEO. To this day, the vision of who I hope to become has not changed or faltered. However, as I got older, the people around me poked fun at me and my goals. When I spoke, many times I was silenced or laughed at. People spoke over me or told me to be quiet. I do not know if it was because I was a female or young, but not many people took me seriously. Through the years, I started to become afraid of my voice and my own opinions. That vision I had for myself seemed impossible.
I lost a lot of confidence in myself, my capabilities, and my future, because my words were never valued. I think that is one of the reasons I started blogging when I was 12 years old. I really wanted to make my voice heard, but I was terrified to speak up. Thus, I wrote down the words I longed to say and share with the world. To this day, blogging has become a big part of my identity, because it is how I share my voice and my opinions. However, recently, I have become a lot more outspoken and determined to refrain from silence. Although through silence, I have been able to listen, learn and understand more people, silence has also created a distance between me and the world. I hid behind the silence and fear of opening my mouth for so long that I allowed myself to suffer through many forms of mental illness alone: clinical depression, severe anxiety, body dysmorphia, and anorexia.
I truly believe that the earliest development of my anxiety disorder began in early childhood when everything I said and did was questioned or not good enough according to the people I looked up to. Consequently, I exhausted years of my life yearning for the approval of others. I tied my happiness and my self-worth to what other people thought of me. But here is the thing: I never really moved forward. I stayed the same quiet, shy girl who kept her mouth shut and her opinions to herself. I did not start really speaking up or standing up for myself until I was 18 years old. One of the first times, I stood up for myself and what I believed in, I was punched and called very mean names. I remember that day so clearly. It traumatized me for a while, and since then, I have developed this severe anxiety over being attacked if I have an opinion that differs from someone else.
About a year ago, I realized how bad this had become when I started throwing up blood over social encounters with people who had differing opinions than me. With the help of my therapist, I was able to reflect on my fears and insecurities, but more importantly, I learned that I do not need anyone else’s approval or permission to speak up, have an opinion, or share my voice. I learned that who I am today does not define who I will become. I learned that my dreams and goals belong to me, not anyone else, therefore, no one else’s opinion should interfere with how I pursue my dreams. Lastly, I learned that I do not need permission to open my mouth, share my voice, and tell my story.
In conclusion, STOP ASKING PERMISSION to be who you are or to chase your dreams. This life belongs to you and you alone. 20 years from now—30 years from now, the only person who must live with the results is you. So, decide today if you want to wait for permission and allow life to pass you by OR give yourself permission to chase and achieve your dreams.
originally published 04.30.20