As told to Brandi Lytle
I met Courtney when I was teaching in Oklahoma. She has a beautiful, strong, loving spirit. Her smile is contagious, and I don’t believe I ever saw a day where she didn’t have a positive attitude. As I watched her grow via Facebook, it seemed she had the perfect life, including the beautiful kids I had always dreamed of… While I was happy for her, I must admit, there were twinges of jealousy.
But as I read Courtney’s Story, tears ran down my cheeks. Her honest, vulnerable answers prove that we should never assume because we never really know what’s going on behind closed doors…
What difficulty were you struggling with?
For years, I had been overachieving, living a social media posting worthy life. From academic awards to participation in collegiate sports, marriage, and beautiful kids, every day was “like” worthy. Popularity and the approval of Facebook friends is where I found my identity and self-worth. I sought acceptance and respect from those I only knew from behind a computer screen.
Why had you lost your joy?
Suddenly about a year and a half ago, my life changed. I found myself in the middle of a very difficult divorce. My life was no longer post-worthy. It was full of tears, anger, and betrayal.
When my children would leave to be with their father, I was utterly lost. I had fed off the likes of strangers to fuel my joy-meter. I was faced with a bitter reality when I was alone. I didn’t know what brought me genuine joy. If I wasn’t winning an award, acing a test, or having a picture-perfect mom day, then who was I? What did I even actually believe in? What made me genuinely happy?
I had no clue how to answer these questions. Everywhere I went in Oklahoma, I was reminded of a picture I had taken. All these pictures were beautiful. Big smiles, perfect lighting, but I began remembering what actually happened behind the scenes at each of the mini photo shoots and realized how phony my life had been.
What good thing (no matter how big or small) helped you to start focusing on the positive?
I built a life 1,300 miles away from everything that I knew and all that was familiar. I surrounded myself with new experiences, new political views, new value systems, new ideas of what is normal. I dug deep within myself and found my truth.
I began writing in a journal and constantly asked myself, “Is this how I really feel or am I writing with the intention of someone reading it and hoping they will accept me?” If my answer wasn’t truthful, I started over. In a new community, I discovered new vices of my peers than what I am used to. I discovered new strengths that I’d never encountered before. I discovered how easy it is to judge others when you’ve never surrounded yourself with anything that challenges your idea of what is normal.
When you stop judging others and start seeing them for their hearts, for their strengths, and for their character, your perspective becomes so much more beautiful. When you allow yourself to be real, others can feel it and they open up as well. I found freedom in my truth and was able to experience real joy for the first time in my adult life.
What would you like to say to others who are going through the same struggle that you have overcome (or are in the process of overcoming)?
I urge others to live their truth, do what brings them joy, find out what they believe in for themselves, and live with passion. Love sincerely, live without fear, and light up your surroundings with realness. You will experience connections with others like never before–even your children, spouses, friends, and family–when you allow others to know the real you.
As I thanked Courtney for being so vulnerable and bravely sharing her story, she made this profound statement, “Living truth allows others to do the same.”
Beautiful one, are living your truth? It’s scary to be honest with ourselves, but until we face our truth, we cannot be our authentic selves. And until we know our authentic selves, we cannot live our imperfectly perfect lives to the fullest!
We’d love to hear your truths in the comments. Or better yet, share Your Good Things Story. You never know who you will inspire!
Photo Credit: Xochi Romero on StockSnap.io