Embracing Your Achievements Is A Huge Part Of Adulting
Adulting is a constant brain churn of “am I doing it right”? Empowerment means allowing yourself to define and recognise your achievements, for you are mighty.
Dreaming of independence…
Being financially and emotionally independent was always something I looked forward to. I dreamed about independence while my college roommates hogged the bathrooms. I dreamed about it while working as a cashier in a grocery store. I yearned for it as most of my miniscule paycheck went toward paying rent in a place where I wasn’t happy living. If you’re familiar with my previous Mookychick post, you’ll know that it finally happened and I got my own place! (*confetti noise*)
And actual independence.
I’ve learned that a lot comes with living on your own, and it’s certainly not the thrill ride I always imagined it to be. Whether that be the hike in rent and electricity, and sometimes wishing I had someone else with me to keep me company, and the fact that any article claiming you can buy and prepare a week’s worth of food is really overestimating my abilities, other worries have reared their heads.
Namely, for whatever reason, every night when the sun goes down my rude brain begins to whisper about burglars, or ghosts, or hell hounds, or something that’s probably already in my place and sneaking down the hall to bite my feet off.
Why? Heck if I know, but I’m sick of it. It keeps me up late, meaning I’m always tired the next day.
That doesn’t include the constant fear of my apartment catching on fire, or one of the other tenants’ places catching on fire, and then my place suffering because of it. There’s the off chance I’ll die of a spontaneous heart attack while alone and someone will walk in to find me less-than-elegantly dead on the couch, covered in spilled ramen broth… you get the idea. Weird stuff, but it clogs my brain tubes on the daily.
The constant brain churn of adulting… am I doing it right?
When it’s not burglars or heart attacks, though, my brain brings up other things: I’m barely getting by.
- My apartment was way too expensive for my budget, and I was stupid for choosing it.
- Not having a couch for the first two months immediately implied that I’m a failure, and a bad adult.
- I should have never adopted a cat, despite her being the balm on my depression I’ve always needed, and she was an irresponsible waste of money.
Despite all of the things I think I should be proud of, none of it is actually all that special. I could have been more. I could have been different.
My brain never stops, no matter how hard I fight back, no matter how much opposing evidence I throw at it.
I was encouraged to buy into a super-narrow idea of ‘perfection’
In the culture where I grew up, I was taught that – as a young girl, and then a young adult and woman – my main goal in life was to become a shining example of the perfect wife. A stay-at-home mom with a loving husband, who spent most of her days cleaning and baking cookies for when the kids got home from school.
The culture revolved around women being submissive, and certainly there are thousands, maybe millions of women who like it that way — and even to them, I’m extending this message: do not be ashamed to be empowered by your choices, your accomplishments, your abilities, especially when someone else talks down to you because they expected something else.
I was never really expected to ‘be’ or ‘do’.
While I was expected to get a college degree, I was never really expected to make a career out of it. I wasn’t expected to have big world-traveling aspirations, or to dedicate all of my time to interests that were mostly “selfish”, and I definitely, definitely wasn’t supposed to make more money than my potential future husband, in order to keep the gender roles in line.
The man is supposed to be the breadwinner, the woman the family nurturer — and while that’s ideal for a lot of people, women, men, nonbinary, genderfluid, what have you — it wasn’t for me.
Rather than conforming to the expected mold, I grabbed my degree and high-tailed it out of there.
Okay, the independence and adulting bit. For real.
I found a job in a field I enjoy, moved into my own place, and now I’m learning all the things I’d still have learned as a wife and homemaker — but at my own pace, by my own rules, and to me, most importantly, on my own dime.
This includes a lot of things I never thought would be a problem, like learning a little bit about interior design for bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, or finally learning how to actually cook, after being raised by a single dad and relying mostly on frozen pizza and other instant meals.
Embracing my achievements. For real.
I’m allowing myself to feel proud of my accomplishments, rather than wondering if they’re the right accomplishments. I’m hanging art I did while in school, without worrying about other people’s opinions, or if they might think it’s a little too boastful.
I’m learning how to do things around the house, like fixing the pilot light when the water heater isn’t working, or actually hanging my art without leaving the walls looking like swiss cheese, some of the works poster-sized and over five feet tall.
Self-care isn’t just another word for pampering.
One of the most important reasons for self care is to allow yourself a break from all the negativity in your life, whether that’s from external or internal sources. For me, sometimes all I need is a book and a hot bath — not only because the steam clears my pores and relaxes my muscles, but also because the embrace of a hot bath makes me think of the safety of the embrace I felt in the womb.
Whatever the women’s magazines tell you, pampering isn’t the only way to practice self care. It’s important to remember that self care shouldn’t be your sole, once-weekly means of helping to better your mood.
While pampering may lift your spirits on a particularly rough day, it’s the other aspects of your life that are going to help keep it up. For me, that’s seeing my art on the walls, or thinking about how, despite not always being easier, I’m content with my life choices and in choosing to follow my own path.
There are multiple levels to feeling empowerment, I think, and all of them involve different methods of self care, which are equally unique for everyone.
The first is accepting who you are, and allowing yourself to feel empowered in the first place.
Forgiving yourself of past mistakes, learning to take lessons from those mistakes, and then allowing yourself to feel strong, and empowered, and independent, and successful.
Whether you got the job you applied for, or you were accepted into the university of your choice, or you managed to get out of bed and take a shower when previously it would have felt impossible, please, please allow yourself to revel in your achievements. Celebrate them, enjoy them, outside opinions be damned. Whether big or small, you deserve it.
Be kind to yourself, and feel proud of yourself. Embrace your empowerment, and remember how strong you are for getting this far. It doesn’t matter if someone else wanted something different from you, or if they claim you’re disappointing them.
The only person you need to be impressing, to be making proud, is yourself.