I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise. I was out of town over the weekend for my niece’s 2nd birthday. There were cupcakes, laughs, and gel manicures to be had. My goal is to get my ass back up there before her 3rd birthday next summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the unintentionally hysterical selfie of her mom and myself. We’ve been friends our entire lives despite living in different states for more than half of our friendship. When we were very young, we labeled ourselves best friends.
We all remember the labels from school. Cheerleader. Nerd. Stoner. Overachiever. They were rarely self imposed. Other kids would make those judgments. My social group were the artsy kids. Band, dance, visual art, and the like were where our strengths laid. As I got older, I noticed a shift in labeling. People began applying the labels themselves, usually holdovers from what they were in school.
The current label on my packaging? Flaky. And not in the fluffy biscuit way.
My negative voice has gone from criticizing my weight to criticizing my follow through. For example, I ended my membership at the dance studio because I wasn’t able to justify the cost. I wasn’t going to class as regularly as I thought I would be. I would tell myself “Okay, I’m going to class tonight for sure!” then not go. Before I knew it, it was the end of the month and I’d taken 2 or 3 classes out of the 10 I had available. Part of the beauty of the studio is the fact all classes are drop in classes. I can go to class once a month or three times a week as my schedule permits. I’m not tied to a series or a specific schedule. Instead of tracking my attendance habits, I committed to something that wasn’t sustainable. When I chose not to go to class or missed it for some reason, that nasty little voice kicked in. I was totally flaky. I couldn’t be trusted to show up for anything. If I can’t show up for something I claim to love, then what would I do in a situation when I didn’t want to be there? And I’ll be damned if that sucker hasn’t been loud as all hell in the past few weeks.
Part of what I love about my hobbies is I *can* walk away from them. I’ll go through phases where I’m doing something regularly and then completely drop it. It could be months, it could only be a week. It’s why I can’t do something I enjoy as a hobby for a job. I would burn myself out on it and end up hating it. Yet I’d still have to show up every day because it’s what’s paying my bills. That’s why I’m so good at what I do for a living. I’m not emotionally attached to my work. I show up, I do my work, and I get paid for it. It pays for my hobbies which I can take or leave. I’m not flaky because I ebb and flow with my hobby du jour.
If I didn’t show up regularly to my job with no solid reason, I’d be a flake. If I made plans with people then flat out didn’t show up, I’d be a flake. If I don’t show up to a drop in class, I’m not a flake. I had no obligation, financial or emotional, to be there. If I feel like, I’ll go. If I don’t, then I won’t. No animals were harmed during the making of this film. I have to keep reminding myself of that to keep the nasty little voice in check. Just like in school, labels can be damaging if you start to believe them. It’s even more potent if it’s coming from inside your own head.
Like any other negative self talk, keep using logic. Look at a situation objectively. Does that negative label really, truly apply? If it doesn’t, keep reminding yourself of why it doesn’t fit. If it does apply and you want to change, what’s a tiny way to work toward that goal? If I truly weren’t showing up when I was expected to show up with no good (or a completely fabricated) reason, then I’d need to do something about it. Instead of accepting an invitation I’m not really interested in, say no. Someone might get their feelings hurt up front, but it’s a much softer blow for both parties. Above all, tell people what you’re trying to change. Odds are they already know what needs to change. If they’re aware of your intentions, they can help. Brains are insanely powerful organs and will justify away pretty much anything. Another person won’t be so quick to let it slide. Pick someone who you know will call you out on your bullshit. Ideally, it’s someone who knows you well enough to know whether you need a good slap upside the head or a more gentle approach. Better yet, pick several people who are willing to help. I’m not a huge fan of teams, but in cases like these, they’re appropriate. In some of my worst and most painful moments, I’ve had more than one person behind me. That, fair readers, made all the difference.
Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Check your label.