My harsh judgments of myself have held me down more than anything else in my life.
There are so many things I didn’t do and dreams I put off because of what I saw in the mirror through my own false perceptions of who I am.
I don’t believe in regrets per se, but if I had a magic wand to do life over again, I’d live those decades with immense self-love so that I could experience what an entire lifetime of being on my own side would have been like.
I’ve had so many battles within, much like everyone else. And as I evolve I always think, “I wish I could apply THIS version of Mandy to all the Mandys of the past because they’d be so much happier and they’d suffer a whole lot less.”
But that’s not how we grow. As Sanford Meisner stated: “That which hinders your task is your task.”
So for me, my task has always been to peel away the layers that prevent me from shining my brightest and feeling my best.
My self-hate limited so much of my joy and almost took my life and prevented me from going after my biggest dream ever (being in a music video) until I was 40! FORTY! And I had that dream since I was a teen. A TEEN!
And I had the opportunity to dance with a troop in my early 20s - one that specifically trained you to dance in music videos and got you into them. But after auditioning and being accepted, I completely bailed. I didn’t go at all. Not even to the first rehearsal.
That still breaks my heart to this day.
My distorted inner beliefs were so much stronger than my dream. I didn’t feel good enough. I believed I was ugly. And fat. And old. At like 22 or 23 or whatever I was at the time! Insane. But my mind really convinced me that I wasn’t worthy of my dream and I believed it even though I wanted that dream with all my heart.
So almost two decades pass and I get a message from Rufus to be in his music video and there was no way in hell I was going to say no.
And trust me, doing it at 40 was still terrifying because I still had to face ALL the inner garbage that prevented me from doing this any sooner, but the difference is that this time I chose to do it anyway. Despite the toxic and self-sabotaging thoughts. Despite the tears and my attempt to back out the day of (Rufus wouldn’t let me and thank god he helped me go through with it!).
Despite the fear that others would see me as I see myself - or that even if they didn’t, that I would only ever see myself through those tainted eyes and I’d regret having put myself out there in such a way and I’d realize that inner voice had been right all along.
Thankfully, my worst fear did not happen. I actually liked what I saw (watch the video here) and felt so damn proud to have faced my biggest challenge: my own toxic thoughts. Epic win!
But look how long it took me to get there. Sigh.
Sadly I can’t go back and give the Mandy of the past the truth of things. She wouldn’t believe me anyways. She had her demons to face and no one but her could do that.
Plus, she was doing the immense inner work that made THIS me possible. So who am I to insert my current views and realizations on her when she was the one to get us to this point in the first place?
She knew what she was doing. She wasn’t wasting any time. She was rebuilding herself and her life one day and one thought at a time.
And if it took until 40 to fulfill that one dream, so be it.
At least she got there eventually. And I’d like to believe that it could not have happened a moment sooner, because it eases my heart to think that way.
I want to believe I didn’t miss out on anything. That I’ve been right on track for every step of my life and all the work of those decades paved the way for the Mandy I always longed to be: deeply fulfilled and happy.
And pretty. I always wanted to be pretty. Mostly because I believed I wasn't.
The mind is a terrible and a beautiful thing, depending on how you use it.
So please, please, please use it wisely and lovingly.
(Art by Raphael Vicenzi)