I know that I said I don't believe in epiphanies. But I just had one, so perhaps I'll have to make some modifications to this.
It occurred to me that I excel at being who other people want me to be. Lately I've been resetting my bearings, having been thrown off the course determined by my eleven-year-old self: "When I grow up, I will be a professor of English Literature." And my reasoning? A student teacher had said that she thought I'd make a really good teacher. At eleven, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was the reincarnation of Emily Dickinson. And yet to this day, to this very moment, I feel like if I don't follow that course, I will have failed. Geneen Roth says: "We follow instructions given to us years ago by people from whom we wouldn't ask for street directions." Even people who imagine that they're Emily Dickinson the Second.
And so I've begun exploring other options. But each time I do, I realize that I'm redefining who I am to fit whatever career I've alighted on. Of course, some modification and catering is necessary to get a job; you'd hardly want your resume to contain a list of your most embarassing flaws. But somehow in the process, I seem to have lost sight of what I want to be doing. Have I ever known?
People tell me that I'm overly sensitive, and I agree with them. Stop caring about what other people think of you! I say to myself, exasperated. Fed up with hanging on far too long to feelings hurt over trivial matters.
But here's the funny thing: having directed my life based on others' expectations, to suddenly stop caring about what others think would, in fact, be insane. That's how I've learned to function. What if -- like overeating -- being overly sensitive to others has been the best way I've found to take care of myself? It may not work out so well, but it's the path that I chose somewhere along the way.
So I'm not going to berate myself for it anymore. I am overly sensitive. I care about what you think of me. I will go to great lengths to avoid pissing you off, even if it means internalizing anger, sadness, or resentment. And since I don't like feeling this way, I'm going to try a different path in the hope that it becomes a better, kinder way to function. I have decided that I'm going to open myself up to the universe, to God, and relinquish control over my life's path. I don't know what I'm supposed to do next. And I have decided to be okay with that.