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I did it because I was lonely.

I had lost myself.

I enjoyed spending my days with my children, but they were so young. I couldn’t really carry on a conversation with them beyond Sesame Street and ABCs. Which was totally fun, but I longed for some semblance of adult conversation. Because honestly, my brain had turned to mush.

My husband would leave for work before the kids woke up and return around midnight. And as I learned the hard way, not many people nobody wants to hang out with you when you have so many little kids…

I was desperate for a friend to alleviate my isolation, so off I went, scouting the internet for group meetups in my neighbourhood. I was able to find a group of mothers centred around raising their young children. Score!

Man, it felt awesome. Being able to have an actual conversation with another adult.

I relished the interactions. I joined every WhatsApp group, and attended every outing. Even impromptu park dates 45 minutes away. My social life with the kids was brimming, and I didn’t care how much gas I was consuming or how exhausted I had become.

Losing My Identity

But in my newfound social bliss, I failed to see a much more sinister effect of my new life. In my desperation to gain a social circle, I had lost my identity.

I began to agree with everything my friends said without a second thought. Most of them were older, therefore much wiser than me, right? My identity, values and belief system slowly morphed into an exact replica of the people in the social circle I had entered.

The scariest part of this, was that I actually believed to my very core that this was me.

I had ‘rediscovered myself’ I thought.

I vehemently denied any suggestion from my closest family members that my actions and thought processes were very influenced from my friends.

I must make it clear that in no way did any of my friends pressure me to change myself. That’s on me. It was my insecurity and intense fear that if I didn’t share their exact beliefs, I would lose the only shot I ever had at having friends.

Low self-esteem anyone? 

I altered my identify out of desperation and fear. Such a disrespect and disservice to both myself and my friends.

Woman looking in mirror - losing your identity

 The Startling Realization

After a few years I moved farther away and started spending time away from my friends because with 5 kids, I was simply too exhausted to maintain any friendships. Only after I spent many hours alone with my thoughts, did I come to the unsettling realization that I didn’t recognize the person I saw in the mirror. That I had morphed into something that wasn’t me. It was a horrible feeling. Much worse than the feeling of loneliness that had prompted me down this path.

Now don’t get me wrong, friendships are vital and necessary for a meaningful life. True friends contribute to our happiness and enhance our wellbeing. But when you have to change your identity and beliefs for the friendship to work, it is high time to re-evaluate if it is doing you more harm than good.

Before we launch ourselves into social circles, we need to do some work on ourselves first.

We must be confident in our unique beauty and value, knowing that we are amazing just the way we are. No need for other individuals to validate our values, beliefs and feelings. This needs to come from within.

We need to become our own best friends.

Learning to Love Yourself Again

1. To love and respect our authentic selves unconditionally.

2. To treat ourselves with utmost kindness and compassion

3. To enjoy being with our own company and thoughts

4. To appreciate our unique gifts and let them shine.

Please don’t change your identity or values for anyone. The fuzzy feeling you get from others validating you will be short lived. You will end up miserable because it is not truly who you are deep inside.

You are amazing and perfect just the way you are. Anybody who is a true friend will see that and appreciate you for YOU.

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