(Photo Caption: That face you make when you realise that fear no longer holds you back!)
We often hide behind ‘things’ to mask a reality that we might be too afraid to face.
I became an expert at this and managed to keep this up until about 3 years ago.
Looking back now, I realise that I spent so long trying to live the life that I felt other people wanted me to live. My focus was on trying to live up to the expectations of others instead of focusing on my own potential. Whenever I didn’t meet those expectations, which was quite often, I would be filled with a huge sense of disappointment. This disappointment would lead to debilitating and soul destroying depression. I would convince myself that I wasn’t good enough and lacked the confidence and self esteem to tell myself otherwise. This would then lead to fear and anxiety which would paralyse my thought process and destabilise my mind set. In a strange way, it felt comfortable here because it meant that I could hide behind my fear and my denial about who I really was. I didn’t have to put much effort into staying where I was. Even the thought of moving from one state to another was exhausting.
My lack of confidence in my own ability prevented me from taking up opportunities that came my way. In particular, my singing. Through fear, I let others take control of this gift instead of packaging it myself and delivering it in my own authentic way.
I guess that’s the reason why I decided to scrap the original direction for my last album, ‘From Pain to Purpose’
The lyrics tell the story of my testimony and how God has used my pain and turned it into real purpose.
The original album idea was trying to cover up the pain with heavy baselines, to distort the feeling and emotion with fancy arrangements and harmonies and to create a synthetic atmosphere that ran the risk of taking away the important message that I was trying to share.
Part way through the album project I decide scrap the production and start again. This time it was simply my voice, the lyrics and a guitar. A beautiful and genuine acoustic album that allows the listener to fully connect with my story.
(Here’s the link just incase you’d like to buy your own copy!) http://www.ireneaserie.bandcamp.com
Apart from my children, this is one of my most proudest achievements and one that I feared the most due to how much it exposed the real me.
I felt so vulnerable, there was nothing to cover up the hurt and pain in my voice, there was no hiding behind an electronic beat or layered harmony. It was just me, in my simplest form, doing what I love and sharing my journey.
Releasing that album empowered me to approach everything that I did from that point onwards with a renewed sense of self. A self that didn’t need permission or validation from others to exist. A self that didn’t require a target or a deadline. A self that didn’t require a meeting of expectations from others.
I didn’t need to fit into others ideas of who I should be. I felt for so long that I needed the approval of others and so became obsessed with this and loved nothing better than to please others.
Finally, I realised that the only opinion that mattered about who I am and what I was trying to do, was my own. If you need something, you tend to have a lot of love, energy and time for it. I didn’t love my self enough and so did not feel the need to put enough time and energy into fixing and maintaining me.
The last 12 months in particular, have been a great learning experience for me in terms of what I have discovered about who I really am and what I stand for.
I am an amazing woman who has endured some extremely tough times to get to where I am now. I no longer wait for others to confirm this for me. I walk with this self validation in my heart everyday. It’s not an ego thing, it’s a faith thing.
It’s great when others confirm what I feel about me by making beautiful and positive comments about my journey and my achievements so far.
It’s also irrelevant to me when hurtful words are used to try and break me or undermine my testimony. Those who take the time to rain on my parade, really need to ask themselves: “what did I really achieve for myself in trying to bring her down?”
I used to doubt the positives that others would share about me and buy into the negative and hurtful things that others would claim about me.
The difference now is that I love myself enough and know myself enough to know that even without the feedback of others, everyday I will celebrate me, will embrace me and will give thanks to God for the unique, creatively gifted and wonderfully made individual that He has called me to be.
I thank God for all that I have been through and what it has allowed me to discover about myself.
I thank God for enabling me to go my own separate way to establish a new and exciting path that would lead me even closer to the purpose that He set out for me.
I have spent this last year rediscovering who Irene really is again. I love me more than anyone else does (apart from God!)
I don’t rely on others anymore to show me the love to sustain me. I spent too many wasted years broken and disappointed because I wasn’t getting what I needed from others. If only I had realised back then that what I needed was right there with me all along, hidden deep within, buried inside my secret place.
Before I knew who I really was, fear prevented me from finding out.
But now that I’m overcoming that fear, I am living my best life ever as my most authentic self.
I now declare the following over myself:
I am not responsible for your happiness and you are not responsible for mine.
I forgive me. I’m letting go, I’m moving forwards away from fear towards faith and hope. ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.’ Isaiah 43:18 NIV
Do not become so consumed by your circumstance to the point where you don’t recognise when God himself comes along to try and help you out of it.
‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline’ 2 Timothy 1:7 NIV