Each year around the 4th of July my family spends a week in Truckee. For those unfamiliar, it’s a small town near Lake Tahoe that is gloriously beautiful. From my folks’ house we look up to the backside of NorthStar ski area. The air is clear, it’s quiet and nature surrounds you in all directions. Why we don’t go up there more is a mystery to me (although I’m firmly committed to spending more time there!). So, you have the serenity fully in your mind?
My family is awesome, and we truly enjoy being around each other. This year, ten of us were up for the week. Our Truckee days are filled with non-stop activity. And by non-stop, I mean every…single…second…This week alone there was boating, rafting, pool ‘hanging’, cornhole (lots and lots of cornhole), ping pong, foosball, bocce ball (the only sport I made a respectable showing in), foot golf, golf, hiking…you get the idea? Most days had no less than 3 activities. And then we prepare and eat dinner together followed by a lot of laughter, loud music as we sang through the years and possible a game later. Genuinely, we enjoy each other, every activity becomes a competition, we laugh, we love one another.
I love being with the family and over time, particularly over the last year, I’ve noticed that I’m wired similarly to them in many ways but am also different. I’m serious, I tire far more easily, I get worn out. The competitive spirit is not as strong. Since this is the family I was raised in, a lot of the traits passed on to me, either by nature or nurture I believe. Over the last couple years, as I’ve settled into mid-life, more of who I am is becoming apparent to me, and I’ve been working to get comfortable with who that person is.
One thing I’ve known for years is that I’m more sensitive. I can recall being young and hearing the words, “there goes Lisa, crying again.” Any potentially emotional moment. Even yesterday, leaving the family to come home, I felt the tears well up. And I’ve tried to shake it off. Be tougher, not so sensitive. It’s not that easy. As I become more aware though, I notice it’s not just emotionally. I’m sensitive to sound – especially loud noises, conflict kills me on the inside, busy-ness and rushing throw me off, other people’s negative energy pulls on me…all things I’ve pushed aside as something being wrong with me. Called it anxiety or told myself to shake it off.
But now? Now I’m learning that it’s part of how I’m wired. I’m more in tune with other people’s energy-their moods, sensitive to it, often feeling it myself. And I feel the energy of different situations, good and bad. And I can get exhausted from it. It’s a little bit like having a hangover – even though I don’t drink – exhaustion, raw emotions.
So, what to do with a week of constant activity? This is where authenticity comes in. Own and take care of my needs. I’m responsible for that. The constant activity of my family? That will, and should, continue. It means that I might take a time out, or observe, rather than be in the middle. It means breaking away from the norm and being ok with it. This year, that’s what I did. The world didn’t end, and I came home slightly less exhausted than I have in the past.
Learning more about me, who I am as an individual and owning it is an ongoing journey. It’s so easy to get caught up in who other people think we should be and how we should show up in situations. It’s far braver to be authentic. But that doesn’t mean everyone around you needs to change to suit you. It means you ask for what you need. It’s setting your own boundaries and taking a time out if you need it. There’s no shame in that.
It’s no different than anywhere you feel you’re showing up on the outside differently than what’s on the inside. Think about that for yourself. Are there areas in your life where you show up to suit others instead of being who you truly are? What step could you take today that would get you closer to your true self? Do that. It’s just one step but it’s a step in the authentic direction. I’m with you every step of the way.