With my birthday approaching, as it seems to do more and more rapidly each year, I find myself taking stock. What have I learned? What advice would I give to my children?
Some might possibly find enlightenment in my experiences. Some may smile gently shaking their head from side to side with a knowing "girl, you haven't learnt anything yet"!!
Gosh this is a big one. I tried so hard to be acceptable to my family, my friends, my husband that I'd assumed a pseudo identity. After a while, it became tiring!
High School was painful. I found myself hiding in the music room, playing piano for an hour rather than sit with the rough group and pretend I was tough or the clever kids and fain intelligence. Graduation day was such a relief for me.
I entered the workplace with great enthusiasm only to find that it was worse than high school. Climbing the ladder, some people do not care who they crush on the way up. That is when I decided to go into business on my own. My profession is my safety net. Any eccentricities can be put down to the fact that I am a "creative". That is fine with me.
You get me and I make no apologies for it! You may take me as I am or choose not to be my friend....likewise, by the way.
Many an hour I sat on my window seat wondering where my real parents were. I just had to have been adopted. My true parents surely would not have treated me this way. When my brother and sister wanted to run away from home, I helped them! Who could blame them.
Yes they smoked with the windows up with a car full of kids. They threw wild all night parties. They slapped us. (we used to compare whose whack left the most impressive indents). They threatened to send us to boarding school when we didn't behave. Finally, the ultimate parental textbook "how to mess up my children" maneuver, leaving us when things got tough. But they also taught us valuable life lessons like how to use your children as slave labour and how to embarrass your kids in front of the entire school by crocheting you a beret instead of opting for the bought one.
Truely though, they were responsible for some of my most prized qualities and for that I am grateful. They were young, without positive role models and without a textbook. They did their best.
So my childhood wasn't ideal.
My brother was a Schizophrenic, Manic Depressive mess. He tried to kill me on a couple of occasions but mostly just savagely beat me.
Ultimately, he was placed into an asylum after I found him lying on the floor in the fetal position moaning incoherently like a baby. I'll never forget it.
My dad never recovered and died of a massive heart attack at the age of 49. My mother has been slowly smoking herself to death since.
It gets much more challenging but I won't bore you with the details. What I will tell you is that all of these events have made me a strong, determined woman who is excited about living each and every day. I jump out of bed in the morning because I do not want to waste a minute. I am who I am because of my experiences and I embrace it.
I HAVE TWO CHOICES
Every day, I figure I have two choices. I can mope around and feel sorry for myself or I can get on with making the best of my life. Give back to the world. Maybe I can make a difference. I choose the latter, mostly.
Some days, I choose to mope. I'm normal after all. I allow myself these days (usually one) and tell myself that everything will be OK tomorrow and it always is.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
I don't go to "work". Everyday, I make food for my family, I love them, I listen to them, I make photographs, I teach, mostly I drive. Here and there and here and there. I'm a taxi. I do laundry, shopping, cooking. You get the drift. I don't complain (my husband would beg to differ). I enjoy all of this. I catch moments for myself where I stop and say, how cool is this. Who'd have thought!
I love myself for who I am, unconditionally. Warts and all. I make mistakes. I cringe, I argh! A lot. I learn. Then I move on. The great thing about this is that it means that I'm not bogged down with hangups. I am free to love everyone for who they are. I understand that we each have something special to contribute. That everyone comes into your life for a reason. You are here for a reason.
LAUGH AT YOURSELF!!
I literally crack myself up! Makes me feel giddy inside. Try it! This is me!
Nina Beilby is a professional photographer based in Chatswood, Sydney, Australia. You can see more of her work at www.ninabeilby.com.au.
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