Do you remember when you lost yourself? When you stopped knowing for sure who you really were and struggled to define your identity?
And do you remember when you found yourself again? Or are you still searching?
I believe that, at some stage, we all lose ‘the real me’. The version of ourselves that we are completely comfortable with. When we’re honest about our flaws and struggles but are happy with what we have achieved and excited about what’s to come. That’s when we’ve found our true selves.
For years, I lived my life trying to please other people. I was more concerned about their happiness than my own and my life decisions were shaped by other people’s opinions of me – or what I thought they were, anyway.
Life and our experiences shape us. Growing up, our parents made all the decisions that impacted our lives – some positive, some not. Then we became teenagers and started making our own decisions and the immense peer pressure started to shape how we thought about ourselves and our abilities compared to everyone else – despite what our parents had taught us. Then we became adults and our lives are impacted even more by our relationship and career decisions. Before we know it, we’ve allowed so many different external forces and opinions to chip away at our true selves.
For years, I asked myself, ‘Who am I? Who is the real me?’ I could never answer that question. I hated the way I looked, I avoided mirrors, I beat myself up constantly for life decisions that I know I can do nothing about. Rather than working to find my happiness and to learn to love what I saw in the mirror, I turned to self sabotage. Rather than building myself up, I’d focus on my flaws and nitpick at every small failure.
Hindsight is a powerful thing but it always comes at the wrong time. In hindsight, if I had known that I would discover the real me through Pilates, I would have started my journey earlier. In hindsight, if I had heeded the warning signs in past relationships, I could have avoided immense heartache. In hindsight, if I had taken the time to understand what it means to have a healthy body and mind, I might not have battled for years with an eating disorder.
Yet I’m grateful for all this hindsight because it’s given me foresight. I know that my experiences have made me wiser, stronger and more resourceful. I’ve developed self control and discipline (ok, maybe not in the face of Smarties mini eggs) and I know now that, no matter what life throws at me, I have the strength and knowledge to handle it better. That’s because, after years of searching, I finally found the real me. I like what I see when I look in the mirror, I’m proud of my accomplishments, I can see inside myself and I’m finally happy.
And I owe it all to Pilates. Never in a million years did I think Pilates would bring out the real me. Not the person striving to be someone else. Just me. Pilates taught me control, discipline and how to be at peace with myself. It taught me to love myself unconditionally and helped me to understand my body through movement, breathing and focus. It helped me to build strength for cycling and to learn how to find a quiet mind in a crazy world.
I’m still on this journey of self discovery and self love but I’ve found my niche. I am happy. I am fulfilled. I am Christiane. I am me.