Something new I learned today

Color, color, color
Color, color, color

I like colorful bowls and I cannot lie.

And plates and cups and cutting boards and even my Foreman grill is bright.

After spending some intense time in the kitchen over the weekend, I came away tonight with the realization that my kitchen has a lot of color in it. I smiled when I realized that and added it to my growing list of things, the things I didn’t know about myself until I paid attention.

But this is not about a rich blue coffee mug next to a red bowl. It’s about surprise and the continuation of a journey that started with pain, chaos, and tears.

If you can imagine a driven woman of 30 who did it all. She studied and excelled in academics. She graduated college. She started a career. She did everything she was supposed to do except she was miserable. So miserable she didn’t know she was miserable.

This was why: I didn’t know who I was.

And I couldn’t understand why I didn’t know. I had done everything I was told to ensure a successful career and life, but at 30 I was not in a city I wanted to live in. I was crying without really knowing why and the harder I tried to be better at my career, the worse the misery became. I didn’t know this wasn’t normal.

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Everyone in their career feels this way sometimes, I thought. But I felt that way all the time.

I would see other people excel and when I did that, compared myself to them, I tore myself up. It wasn’t that they were more talented or smarter than me, what was I missing?

Then came the night of the 1 a.m. cry when I came home, exhausted from 14 hours at work. With only a couple of hours rest before having to wake up for an 8 a.m. assignment across town, I crumpled on the floor of my apartment and cried.

This wasn’t what I wanted for myself but I didn’t know what I wanted either. Who was I? God only knew but I was clueless.

I looked at myself in the mirror and I wasn’t sure who I was. Was I doing my hair a certain way because I liked it or because that was the way I was supposed to do it. Was I really a fan of certain books, television shows, and music because I liked it or because it was expected of me to enjoy them? What kind of foods did I like? What did I want for myself personally? Did I really want to be a mom and a wife or was it because it was expected of me and that’s what I was supposed to do?

At that point, I didn’t even know what my favorite color was.  I liked pepperoni pizza only because that was the only thing we ordered at home. Never really tried other kinds.

That started a quest to find out who I was and trying to remember the last time I was genuinely happy. (I was in middle school.) From that memory, I went through all my likes and dislikes, writing them down. No matter how small and insignificant it was, each new discovery brought me closer to finding out the real me.

Here are some things on the list:

  • I like Supreme pizza best. Pepperoni is okay.
  • I don’t like snow but I like fall. Early fall is best and purple leaves are my favorite. Followed by red.
  • I like pink windshield wipers. They make me happy.
  • I expect greatness from myself and I am disappointed when everyone else doesn’t expect the same from themselves.
  • I fear success and I don’t know why.  Conversely, I don’t fear failure because I don’t believe in it.
  • I like boy bands; I like to fangirl.
  • Purple is my favorite color.
  • I like being a nerd.
  • I love writing. I loathe words used as weapons against those who haven’t been fortunate enough to learn enough words to defend themselves.
  • I believe that art makes life go from black and white to color. I want to live in color.

Though some items on the list may seem trite, to me it’s a win. These are things I never knew about myself and had I continued on the path I was on, who would I be today?  The alternative scares me because the misery was so deep.

So, yes I like colorful dishes. Not just one color but all colors it seems. I’ve learned this now in my mid-30s and I’m ecstatic. Years after starting this journey, there are still discoveries to be made and I’m still open to seeing them, no matter how small they are.

I’m so looking forward to the next discovery.

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