Let’s go back in time to 1998. I had just started my sophomore year of high school, and the album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, had just been released. As a teenager, I spent hours in my bedroom listening to music, and boy did I feel like Lauryn really understood me! But looking back, it amuses me to think about my teenage relationship woes…my crush didn’t like me back, my best friend got a new boyfriend and didn’t have time for me anymore, I’d never find a boyfriend who liked me for my stick-figure physique, etc. Of course at the time, in my egocentric teenie bopper mind, these problems were likely to bring about the end of the world! But now that I’m more than twice as old and hopefully much the wiser, it’s obvious to anyone at this same stage in life that life was waaaaayyy easier back then. Life only gets more complicated the older you get, and as my Pawpaw used to say, we all have our own sack of rocks to carry (a.k.a. baggage). However, that album is one that I still listen to on the regs, and Lauryn’s lyrics ring even truer today with my new “grownup” problems. In her song, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” she sings, “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within…uh uh, come again.” Ok, Lauryn, I hear you…so how do I get right within??
If you read my post about my text message breakup last year (my ex broke up with me in a text), you’ll remember that I went through all the stages of grief, and my favorites in particular were anger and depression. If you haven’t read that post yet, you can check it out here.
I was in the funkiest of funks afterwards, and I knew I had to make a change fast, because even I didn’t want to hang out with myself in the aftermath of that relationship implosion.
I had been in a relationship that was going nowhere fast and had lost my sparkle and fervor for life along the way. I had wasted soooooo much time and mental energy on petty trivialities that it was truly a blessing when I got my butt thrown to the curb. Getting dumped in a text message was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my groove back! But how exactly did I start movin’ and groovin’ again to the beat of my own drum? I took Ms. Hill’s advice to get right within, and I started a one-woman movement to explore the following each week: Something Old, Something New, Something Social, Something YOU. I essentially enrolled myself in my own class of Self Discovery 101.
So what does Self Discovery 101 look like on a weekly basis? Ever since the aforementioned breakup of relationships past, I’ve made a concerted effort to rediscover old passions and interests (like salsa dancing and traveling Kiki-style) and to stoke new ones (like this blog!). I don’t think I would’ve been motivated to pursue life to the fullest like I’m doing now if I had stayed in that mediocre relationship. I was content for a while, because it didn’t start out mediocre, but in the end, I had lost my joy and myself somewhere along the way. So rather than sit at home and feel sorry for myself (woe is me!), I decided to pull up my big girl britches and create the life that I’ve always wanted!
My trick for doing this is quite simple: I commit time each week to doing at least one of the following “somethings”: Explore old and/or new interests, do something social, or do something just for me (just because it makes me happy).
I don’t try to do all of that every week, because there’s just not enough room in my schedule. If you set goals for yourself that aren’t attainable, then you’re setting yourself up for failure, and that defeats the purpose of trying to feel better about yourself, now doesn’t it? I even like to make a plan for my self-discovery goal at the beginning of each week and write it in my planner. 🙂 It’s actually kind of fun to look back over the past months and see all the “somethings” I’ve tried, reminding myself how much I’ve grown as an individual by simply setting my intention to do so each week.
Let me walk you through my process…we’ll start with something old! Perhaps there’s something you absolutely loved doing in the past, like antique shopping, hiking, or simply reading your favorite magazine on lazy Saturday mornings with your coffee, but you let it fall to the wayside because……life. This could be a new or toxic relationship, a new or demanding job, a lack of personal/work life balance, depression, etc. that caused you to forego your former passions. Whatever the reason, don’t give into living a lesser existence! You only get one life to live, and what’s the point of living if it’s not full of passion?!?
You have to live life on your own terms and choose to let go of whatever is holding you back from achieving your awesomeness. You can tap into what makes you tick by rediscovering old interests and passions. This is the first step towards getting your groove back.
For me, that meant starting to salsa dance again and traveling the way I want to travel. These two passions are key components of who I am, and when I put them on the back burner, I lost a lot of my sparkle and my essential Kikiness. So what’s the first thing I did after I was dumped via text last year? Why I went out salsa dancing, that’s what (after a week of crying myself to sleep every night, of course)! My heart might have been lacking joy at the time, but I was determined to dance the depression out of my life and make way for all of the happy happy joy joys that were awaiting me once I stepped back into my life and took control of my happiness. I hadn’t been out salsa dancing in sooooo long, because my ex didn’t like it, and I can’t tell you how stinkin’ good it felt to get back out on the dance floor and do my thang!!
That was the beginning of the spark that ignited my new groove.
The second oldy but goody something I did was book a trip to get the heck outta dodge, and a change of scenery was just what I needed to clear my head and start focusing on my own happiness once again. Once I was recentered in my essential Kikiness (what makes me tick), I could open myself up to exploring new interests and passions and getting out there and being social with the world again. At the time, I just happened to fall back into my old interests (dancing and traveling), because it was familiar and comfortable, but now that I reflect back, I see that it is essential to one’s groove-gettin’ to do this step first. By recentering myself in my old (pre Perfect on Paper BF) passions, I was able to reconnect with the truest parts of myself, making it possible to be open to new experiences and happiness like I’ve never known before!
I had to get in touch with the old me before I could open up my heart and mind to a whole new world of experiences (cue the Aladdin soundtrack).
Now onto my something new. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but hesitated giving it a go because you don’t have enough time in your schedule, your significant other wouldn’t like it, you’re overworked and underpaid, etc.? Well, you can keep making excuses and continue wishing for a more exciting life, or you can decide that today’s the day to make things happen for you! Looking over my planner these past months, I realized that I’ve tried a LOT of new things. Some were as simple as cooking with eggplant for the first time (which didn’t turn out so well) and others were more drastic like cutting almost a foot of hair off my head!
Another week I tried out a new dog park that I had been meaning to try for months, and another time I got all dolled up and went by myself to a wine bar to listen to flamenco music. There’s a whole world of new experiences out there…you just have to be willing to turn off Netflix, get your butt moving in the opposite direction of your couch, and start living your life. There’s no right or wrong “something new” to try.
The whole point is to shake things up and create opportunities for new people and experiences to come into your life.
Take it from this middle-aged school teacher that lives alone with her two dogs (hey at least I don’t have cats, jk)…living by yourself doesn’t have to equal loneliness. You can stay home by yourself on date night and feel all sorts of sorry for yourself, or you can put on that outfit that makes you feel sassy and go out somewhere, anywhere, that puts a smile on your face! Remember, you’re trying something new…don’t knock it ‘til you try it! 😉
Click here for Part 2 of “How Kiki Got Her Groove Back…And Then Some!” In this next post, you’ll learn all about my Something Social and Something YOU steps in my Self Discovery 101 plan.