Abandon the Fantasy Self, and unlock your true self
Tova shared a comment on my fantasy self article last week:
“I feel like this was written to me. The fabric, the baking tools, all of it is the possibility of all the versions of me that could be, but they can’t coexist and I don’t have room for all of them! This has been really impactful thank you.”
And I love that she used the word “coexist” because that is exactly how it is.
Each version of ourselves, no matter how possible they are (the homesteader who provides for her neighborhood, the quilter who teaches classes out of her home, the homeschooler who has 6 hours of lessons planned out every single day, the sculptor who demonstrates sculpting during monthly downtown art-walks) can’t coexist.
I remember hearing a quote from Madeleine Albright:
“I do think women can have it all, but not all at the same time. Our life comes in segments, and we have to understand that we can have it all if we’re not trying to do it all at once.”
If you are a parent, you know there is a lot of truth in that statement.
When we’re in the middle of pregnancies, diapering infants, and chasing toddlers, that is a season that is very full and we have little time for anything else. As the kids grow and head off to school, we have more time and can shift our focus. Each season of life requires different amounts of time and energy.
When I was younger I did want it all. I thrived on the belief that I was capable of whatever I set my mind to. And I will admit that I am quite capable – I learned to be a very independent woman. I learned to change my own oil, replace faucets in my home, build things out of wood, all while birthing a ton of children, being an on-call doula, cooking from scratch, singing in the choir… the list goes on. I was ridiculously busy.
And the bar I set for myself was unbearably high.
After embracing minimalism, I can now confidently say I do not want it all.
I took a long hard look at myself and decided what I wanted.
For me, I don’t want to be a politician, or a CEO of a major corporation, even being an “influencer” and “internet famous” has lost its appeal, though I have to acknowledge that that is where I’m at.
What do I want?
I want to enjoy my time.
I want to be able to sit in quiet contentment.
I want to know my children’s personalities, and interests. I want them to feel comfortable talking to me about all the things in life.
I want to be able to reminisce with my husband when we’re in our 80s and say “I’m so thankful for the life we shared.”
I don’t need to conquer, I don’t need to prove myself, and I don’t need to have a wiki page of all the accomplishments in my life.
The legacy left behind doesn’t need to be public.
Jen left this comment on the same blog post:
“So true, I had never had a label for it, but as I approach 50, there are a lot of paths I can no longer choose, and hence a lot of “me” that won’t be. And that’s OK. A little sad, even a little painful, but the truth…and letting go of the Fantasy Me will leave more room for the Right Now Me, I’m sure.”
I would bet that much of my desire to shift from “having it all” to being content is because I’m older now, I see my parents aren’t going to be here much longer, and life feels fleeting.
I long to have strong relationships with my children and grandchildren, and that takes so much more time than I thought it would.
I know for some people it comes quite naturally for them.
My maternal grandmother did so well at having relationships with her children and grandchildren, and because of her example, I know that is what I want. That is how I want to be remembered.
But it doesn’t come naturally to me.
I have to set reminders on my phone to touch base with my kids when they move out. I have had to build it into my routine to video chat with my grandkids on a weekly basis. I have to work at paying attention when they talk to me. I have to think of questions to ask them so I can get a better understanding of where they are at.
It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the daily things of cooking and working – if I don’t make it a priority to reach out, it would be months between conversations.
People have said, “Oh Rachel, you’re so good at parenting and involving your children.”
But I have to be honest: It’s extremely hard for me!
If I’m not careful, I will find myself resenting the time I have to take to maintain these relationships. I have to work on the way I think about it and remind myself of what I truly want.
Because I have decided that these relationships and my contentment needs to be a priority, it helped me release the things that prevent it.
I simply don’t have time to do all the quilting, sew all my children’s clothes, be a professional baker, turn my yard into an urban homestead…
I wouldn’t have enough time to be all 4 of those things at the same time, let alone have time for my 6 kids, 2 grandkids, aging parents, neighbors, church family, and moments to actually sit and enjoy my life.
As Tova said, these things can’t coexist
We don’t have time to do it all, and we don’t have the space in our homes to store all the items needed for all these different things.
Embracing minimalism is not like a strict diet where we say “Oh, I’m a minimalist, I’m not allowed to enjoy my life or have fun things.”
Embracing minimalism means we look at our life, decide what we want out of it and let go of all the things that are preventing us from living the way we want to.
For me, I chose to let go of many different versions of myself, so I could focus on being the present wife, parent, grandparent, and daughter I WANT to be.
When you think about your own life and all the stuff you have to support the different possible versions of yourself, is that stuff helping you with your priorities?
This post makes it sound like I have given up all the hobbies and everything unique about me so that I can pour myself into other people.
That is not true at all.
I have kept many things in my life – I love to bake and cook, I enjoy gardening, I paint, and go hiking and I kept my piano that I play from time to time. The things I have given up were superfluous. They were excesses that only added stress to my life – reminding me that I wasn’t everything I thought I could be.
Embracing minimalism has allowed me to be honest with myself about who I am and who I want to be… and to be ok with not having it all, whatever that ALL was. Because my life is full, and I enjoy it just as it is.
This article spoke to me and helped me to get rid of some things I had considered sentimental. They weren’t, they were things related to my past fantasy self and/or my future fantasy self and I did not need them anymore. Thank you
I had to forgive my current self for not pursuing the dream my past self had of learning the piano. I let go of the electric keyboard during your Declutter-a-thon and now can admire the empty corner of my closet.
As a musician whose hands have been…let’s say “customized” by RA, the fantasy items I decided to (sell) were my guitar and piano. Can’t play them anymore and they spent years just making me more frustrated. They were essentially really pricey dust collectors.
I am so glad I don’t have to look at them anymore! It was a hard decision, but I am putting the money I made into a bathroom remodel, so that feels like a good consolation prize.