Week 2 of Laura Jane Williams’ #AskTheQuestion was a funny one for me, and kind of knocked me out of my flow with writing responses to the questions because I felt like I quite simply didn’t have an answer.
Week 2’s question was ‘Who loves you, but doesn’t get to tell you who you are?’.
I’ve struggled with this because for the most part, I’ve never had huge expectations or judgements pushed on me about who I am, and if I have, I feel like they’re kind of true.
I’ve always been a bit of a goody two shoes, if you like. I did well at school because I wanted to, and I liked it. Who can actually say that? My parents expected me to do well, get good grades, and I did.
I wasn’t the rebellious type; there wasn’t many arguments in our house, with me any way, I was pretty much always home on time, have never smoked in my life and just generally behaved. There’s never really been much of a friction between me and those around me in terms of them trying to tell me who I am because whatever they thought I was, was just about true.
Friends, however – I can relate to this. I spent so much of my adolescent years fraught with insecurity, shyness and low self-esteem that I think I naturally slipped into a supporting role with some of my friends who had much more dominant personalities. I was just seen as ‘that person’s friend’ or the girl who always happens to tag along, when in reality I was my own person who brought something to the party – even though I brought it so much more quietly than everyone else.
Eventually playing second fiddle wears off on your own opinion of yourself – you start to believe you’re inferior, because everyone else treats you that way. In the email, Laura talked about reverting back to her younger self when around certain people, and that definitely resonates. There are some people, friends, and when I’m around them, I can feel myself slipping back into something that I’m not entirely sure is myself, and I know now that I’m definitely not happy about that, and won’t be letting it happen again.
Something that I have realised gets projected on to me from my family is fear – fear about moving, about working for myself, about chasing my dreams, about changing my mind, even just about being independent. But as I’ve learnt from my fantastic ex-colleague, now friend Lisa Bean and her DARETOGROW movement, to live our passion sometimes means shedding your inheritance and going on a journey your parents might never have predicted for you. My family give me incredible support in everything I want to do, they always have, and have never tried to stop me, but there is an element of fear or misunderstanding of my motives that comes with that sometimes. What I think we’ve developed now is trust – whether it’s my family, friends or boyfriend, they may not always ‘get’ why I’m choosing a certain path, but they trust in me to do so.
So for me, I think, it’s not necessarily about people I love telling me I am, but more about remembering I can be more than the limits I put on myself. Perhaps I’m the person I love who is telling myself who I am? Putting myself down, saying that I could never do that thing or be that person – when in fact I can, and more?
I think I’ve found my answer. It’s that no one I love gets to tell me who I am and what I can be, and that includes the negative, self-doubting version of Sophie too.