An Honest Lesson on How We See Ourselves

It’s all about perspective

Photo by Elia Pellegrini on Unsplash

I moved back in with my parents in my forties. I had no money, no job, and no-one to love. And that wasn’t even my lowest point thus far.

It’s fair to say life hasn’t really gone according to plan. Well, certainly not society’s plan for me. You know how that goes — get a good education, a good job, find a life partner, raise a family, live happily ever after.

Nope, that’s not the path I’ve found myself on.

I had the good education and job parts going on in the early days. Even dabbled with the life-partner thing, though most of those are best left in the past. Then things took a turn and I found myself single and on welfare in my late thirties.

As life-saving as the Disability Support Pension is in Australia, and I consider myself very lucky to have it, it’s pretty difficult to live on when you have to pay rent on your own. My savings dwindled, and eventually I found myself in the afore-mentioned predicament of living with my parents in my forties.

It was a sad time for me, I won’t lie. I felt like a failure. Rumours abounded of a thirty-year high school reunion. How could I attend something like that? How would I answer the inevitable question over and over — so what have you done with yourself these last thirty years?

I had the conversations in my head a thousand times:

Former school-mate: What do you do for a living?

Me: I’m on disability.

Former school-mate: Oh, that’s too bad. *Looks around desperately for someone more interesting to talk to.

Or the slightly more optimistic version:

Former school-mate: What do you do?

Me: I’m a writer.

Former school-mate: Oh cool. Are you published?

Me: I’m self-published.

Former school-mate: Oh. You make a living doing that?

Me: Um, not really.

Refer to Conversation A above for how the rest of this one would play out.

No, there would be no high school reunions for this sad version of myself. I was destined to live alone in my little cave (aka the converted garage out the back of Mum and Dad’s place), write my words, and dream of one day making enough money to get off the pension.

And then someone came along who held up a mirror to my life and showed me a completely different version.

He told me I was strong, funny, and kind. He told me he admired my work, and that others did too. He reminded me I’d published multiple books that readers across the world adored. He praised me for helping my parents in their later years. He even told me he found me a little bit intimidating the first time we met.

He helped me to see the friendships I’d made and kept over the years, that there were people in my life who loved who I was and didn’t define me by my shortcomings.

He helped me to see that I was contributing something of value to society. That I had an important place in this world. That I was loved, admired, and even cherished.

He helped me to see who I really am.

On the surface I was still exactly the same person as I’d been the day before we met. I was still broke, living in my parent’s garage, writing my words and hoping people would read them.

But for the first time in many years I saw myself in a positive light. He was right, I did have something to give. I had a place in the world. In moments I went from being a sad loser with no life to a unique, talented writer with a valuable contribution to make.

It’s all about perspective.

The truth is we all have something to give. We all have a place in this world, a positive impact to make on someone or something. Maybe it’ll take another person to show you who you really are. Maybe you already know. Or maybe my little story will help you realize it for yourself.

However it happens, I hope you find out how important you are. It can literally change your life.

Inspiring a healthy creative life. www.catherineleeauthor.com

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