How often do we choose to keep our alter egos alive for the enjoyment of others?

“You know it’s hard to get to know yourself when your alter ego is known so well, and you think it might be him they come to see.”

It was 2008. I was driving from Los Angeles to San Diego, listening to EastonAshe when these lyrics knocked me upside the head. At that time, no words could have resonated more deeply.

I was thirty years old, with a persistent desire to uplevel my life. I wanted to surrender patterned behavior that kept me living habitually. Yet, a lie I routinely told myself held me back from embracing change. I was sure in altering my lifestyle I would let others down. I was afraid that in saying yes to me, I would fail to meet their expectations of who I had become, whom they identified with, and whom they counted on me being.

Until this song played, and despite feeling sick and tired of being sick and tired, I continued doing for years those things I had always done, all the while expecting a different result. Albert Einstein calls this insanity.

In the years leading to this aha moment, I was unhappy in the privacy of my thoughts. In many ways, I did not feel fulfilled. My desired life seemed further out of reach with every New Year. I wanted to smile without being able to help it. I wanted to leap from bed without pain and exhaustion. I wanted to feel at ease and not anxious. I wanted to love my body and not feel I had to, in some way, objectify it. I wanted to give up drinking and late night partying because whether or not it was fun to connect with friends over cocktails, doing so always left me feeling terrible.

I wanted to feel okay being alone. I wanted to feel strong and independent. I wanted to be in control of my life rather than reacting to a multitude of challenges.

But, I was living within the constraints of routine. My patterned behavior was so deeply engrained, and intertwined with my network of friends and circle of influence, I was sure I would be kicked to the curb, replaced by another friend if I made shifts in my habits. Adversary thoughts rattled around in my head––If I stop drinking, what will I do instead to connect with others? Who will I socialize with, and how? Meeting up for drinks, and late night dancing is what brings us together. What will happen if I don’t rally with those from my work? They will be sharing stories the next day that I won’t be included in. I will be isolated, and how horrible that will be when I have nine hours to spend with them each day.

These thoughts led me to believe others would judge me for trying to better my life, and for putting me first. These spells we cast upon ourselves, they are nonsense.

Truthfully, what others think of us is none of our business, and most of the time, our judgments, shaming, and expectations come from within, and not from others at all. These limiting thoughts, they are our own beliefs.

And besides, those who love us unconditionally, those who we truly want to have by our side––they will be there no matter what. They will support us even when we alter our course. They will have our backs and continue to dance with us as we choose to move in new ways.

Those who matter most in my life, they have always supported my desire to be better today than I was yesterday, and better tomorrow than I am today. These true friends have never fallen away, and they too are bettering their lives. We help each other. We encourage. We uplift. And, we accept each other for who we are, and meet each other where we are, not where we think the other should be.

We each have a choice. We can continue to show up as our alter ego to satisfy what we think others are hoping to see, or we can choose to change now, and now, and now again. Those on our path who accompany us on our journeys to self-care and love, they are not interested in our alter ego. They are the ones who enjoy getting to know us as we evolve, and who are not expectant of meeting the same person they once knew.

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