I failed at allergy shots. You know, the ones engineered to make you not allergic to the thing you’re allergic to. Yeah, those shots. Maybe it’s a form of micro-dosing, I don’t know. But when I was a kid and discovered – painfully – that I was allergic to our family’s cat and dog, I spent a series of Saturday mornings getting shots. They didn’t work. We still had to forfeit our beloved pets and my siblings wondered why they couldn’t just get rid of me instead.
Then, in my early 20’s, I again did a series of allergy shots. And again, they didn’t work. Which means, yes, I am still frightfully allergic to cats (I can’t breathe) and annoyingly allergic to my dogs (I sneeze a lot).
Years ago, I had a friend who could stop clocks. When she entered a room, lights would sometimes crackle. Computers would go haywire. Wearing a watch – for any functional purpose other than jewelry – was useless. No amount of energy work could change her energy. And there are no shots for that kind of thing either.
We are what we are.
Some things can be changed. Other things cannot.
I’ve spent my life trying to change things about myself. To “improve” myself. To curb my enthusiasm and excitement around certain people. To not be so direct or so passionate or so emotional. But this is who I am.
Some things can be learned. Other things, no matter how hard you try, may not be impossible but they are certainly misery. They aren’t aligned with who we innately are. Some things are just hard-wired. In our genes, I suppose. Really, I don’t understand the science. And honestly, I don’t need to.
At this age in my life, I know who I am. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I am a smart woman. There is a lot I can still learn. A lot I am still learning. But this much I know: I will never have an aptitude for understanding computers or computer programs.
You haven’t heard from me in almost two months because I’ve been trying to learn web hosting and design on a new platform. Now, to be clear, I have had six other websites on four different platforms over the last twenty years. Four of those, I created entirely by myself. And on all six of them, I learned to manage, edit, and update. But this new website has nearly been the death of me. Yes, that’s hyperbole. But in 2020, and with all that has gone wrong with the site and the consequences on my psyche, there is actually some truth in there. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say, even my brilliant friend who was helping me with this (who did the initial and essential heavy lifting before telling me it was ready for me to take over and it would be easy), broke down and said I’m cursed. Because much like my friend whose energy messed up electronics, almost nothing has worked the way it was supposed to.
Fortunately, I know I’m not cursed. But I am human. I am my own unique blend of beautiful brilliance and horrible mess. And I forget sometimes what I am capable of—both my abilities and my limitations. Consequently, I am susceptible to shaming as much as the next person. If my brilliant design-minded friend said I could do the new website, then of course I could. But I can’t. Or to be precise, I barely can. It’s a mess. And every day, ever hour, every minute that I work on it is sheer misery.
Confidence is nurtured in the home. I won’t say it begins there because, as I’ve said, we seem to enter the world with certain dispositions and aptitudes. How we end up as adults with our own unique skills and personalities, however, depends greatly on our childhood. Whether or not we had parents who emotionally supported us and loved us just as we were.
Almost every adult I know has some story where their parent missed the mark. Maybe it only happened once or maybe it was a pattern. Regardless, it is remembered. A time when their parent wasn’t supportive enough or pushed them too hard to be something else. An experience where they felt, in some way, that they weren’t accepted or understood.
Other folks experienced the opposite: where everything they did was celebrated as golden and good, even when it wasn’t. And that, too, was a form of not truly seeing who they were.
There’s no exact formula to being a good parent. Or a good human being. We are each a glorious brilliant mess, connected through this similarity and yet individual in our own ways.
But if there is one thing that holds true no matter what, it is this: love. The more we love ourselves, the more able we are to love others. The more we accept ourselves – the good and the bad, our strengths and weaknesses, our abilities and our deficits – the more able we are to accept others. This begins in the home. But it’s not hardwired.
And this, I believe, is the ultimate secret to a good life, no matter what struggles and challenges come your way.
Know Yourself. And then Love Yourself for who and what you are.
These two things can be learned. Regardless of whether we experienced them as children in our home. But they take practice. Lots and lots of practice. No matter what your age.