What does it mean to be a grown-up? How do you know when you are finally an adult?

I know tradition and society says once you are 18 or even 21, you’re an adult. Able to vote, drink alcohol, marry, do grown up things.

But is that it?

I don’t think so.

I don’t think I even started being an adult until my nervous breakdown in 2010. By then I was 44.

Before that I was hiding, a child playing dress up, pretending to be grown up, pretending I was the same as everyone else and I fitted in.

No matter that I had my dream job; high powered, well paid with global travel. No matter than I owned my own house and car and had credit cards and savings and investments.

I was playing at being a grown-up.

Inside I was a frightened child.

And when that breakdown finally came?

It was a fucking relief.

Even though it was the most awful thing ever.

Because I was finally able to stop pretending.

This is not who I am.

That’s what my mind and body had been screaming at me for so long, suppressed and ignored until I couldn’t hold it in any longer. And I fell apart.

And as I started picking up the pieces of my life, I stopped wearing masks, I stopped pretending. I didn’t have the energy for it. I couldn’t find the desire to pretend to be something other than what I was .

And at that time, I was depressed, anxious, unemployed and sick.

Of course, I couldn’t summon the thought, the belief that I needed to be someone, something else. I wasn’t being anything back then.

As I healed, as I threw myself even deeper into personal development, psychology, behavioural science and spiritual teachings, I started to become aware of who I was. All the various parts that made up ME.

All the frozen, terrorised childhood parts, the hurt, fearful adult parts and below all of that, the person I was always meant to be.

I didn’t know how to be that person. I was lost in a world I once navigated by responding to other people’s needs. Who did I think they wanted me to be, then I would be that.

How was I supposed to be me, I didn’t even know who that was, what that would look like in the world.

But I knew that’s what I needed to do, that was who I need to BE.

And so I started, every day trying to be who I thought I was. Until I realised that was another trap. Another false start.

I stopped trying. I gave it all up and started being.

I following what my heart was telling me to do.

I started a dog sitting business and with the dogs I was free to be myself and I discovered that person for myself and you know what? I liked myself.

No. I loved myself. The dogs allowed me to be kind, soft, gentle, intuitive, funny. ME. I discovered myself.

And I did that for years and I got better and better at being more of myself.

Sure there was always the occasional slip back into mask wearing when I was with people and thought I had to be someone different to fit in. But more and more I resisted that because it felt so fake and unnatural now.

I was out of the straitjacket and I wasn’t going back in.

Nowadays, I hardly ever go back to wearing a mask. I can’t remember the last time it’s happened. But I’m now so aware of it, I catch myself almost instantly.

Same with childhood patterns of behaviour. I’ll slip, maybe even for a whole day if the disruption to my equanimity is severe enough. And then I catch myself and I might even whisper out loud (in fact, I always do!)  that that’s not who I am, not who I want to be.

And no matter how difficult it is, I revert to being me.

That’s being a grown-up. That to me is adulthood.

When you are engaged in healing your traumas and determined to always show up as you, for good or bad, you are always fully embracing who you are.

And you can do this at any age. Be fully yourself and embrace a lifetime of healing and loving and kindness for yourself.

But I find, it’s usually people who have struggled for years trying to be someone else to fit in that finally decide to give in, to surrender the struggle and embark on the journey of discovery inside of themselves.

Give up sooner.

Surrender now.

Be yourself. Its who you were always meant to be.

And you know its true.

And if you’re pretending you don’t know what I mean, you’re still deeply embedded in the pretender’s game.

And no-one wins at that.

You know why?

Because you’re playing someone else’s game and you’re playing by rules they made. Rules they keep changing and you keep having to jump through hoops to be what you think is wanted and needed by other people.

Stop!

Before you reach the breakdown stage.

Please, for the love of God and yourself. Stop.

Be yourself.

As Dr Seuss said: Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Love,

Cynthia xx

PS. Below you’ll learn more about how I can support you in your healing journey.

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