As we walked down the winding streets of Hamburg, Germany, the freezing cold wind whipped our faces. I had buried my chin into my scarf, but my breath was so hot and the air was so cold after about 10 seconds it was already humid in my little cocoon. I was cold and tired and not feeling like my cheery self. We had been sightseeing for one and a half days straight and while I am usually a great traveler, I was feeling out of sorts. I adore Domi’s family, they have really become my family, too. I am incredibly comfortable around them, but I also have a little bit of that need to be the perfect daughter-in-law, the perfect sister-in-law and I still haven’t gotten over my need of wanting to please people.
I am proud of being the easy, happy traveler, whether we’re up at four in the morning or have been going all day long, I can usually manage to be a happy camper no matter what without even trying. So, yesterday, when I was feeling a little bit low, but still wanting everyone to be jolly around me, I started getting really emotional.
We stopped for a bite to eat in a mall and I stared at all of the different options my mind swimming. I couldn’t pick anything, I couldn’t make a single decision and really, more than anything, just looking at the food made me want to cry. And looking at food never makes me sad, so I knew something had to be up in my little interior world. I found Domi in the crowd. “I can’t do it anymore Bab. I am so tired.” I told Domi.
“What do you mean, Baby?” He asked me with that sweet concerned look on his face.
“I just can’t be ‘on’ anymore, I wanted to be the perfect traveler and be everyone’s cheerleader, but I am so wiped. I just want to cry.” I answered despondently.
“Let’s get some food in you and if you need to cry we can go and do that, too. Whatever you need. But remember, you don’t have to be ‘on’ in front of my family. You can just be yourself. Whatever mood that is, even if it isn’t a good one, it’s the one you’re in and they will love you anyway.”
Domi said this and hugged me. I buried my face into his puffy winter coat and shed just a few tears. I so badly wanted to keep soldiering on with a happy face, but I couldn’t anymore. I was so afraid that if I let down and really was just in a medium mood for a few hours or even half a day that I would lose my reputation as the happy traveler, as the easy, perky daughter-in-law. I was torn. What was I to do?
Well, first of all, the food helped. Food always helps. After food there was no more need for tears, but I was still really tired and not feeling up to being my “usual” self. So, I decided, to heck with it. Domi is right. I need to just relax and feel how I feel and it’s all going to be okay. My family will still love me, even if I’m not always happy. It’s impossible to always be happy, by the way, none of my family members are constantly happy 100% of the time, so I’m not sure why I thought I had to be. And my family will still think I’m great even if my perkiness sometimes comes and goes.
So, I let go and just felt my feelings. And what happened? Well, I don’t think anyone even noticed and if they did, they certainly didn’t say anything to me. It was okay for me to grunt and not make jokes for a few hours. It was okay that I just wanted to be quiet and hide my little head in my massive scarf. It wasn’t that everyone else wasn’t giving me the permission, it was that I wasn’t giving myself the permission.
So, what am I looking at here? Well, it seems, my perception of what other people think of me is off and I care way too much about what other people are thinking. I now think I believe that even if I shut down for a few hours the essence of who I am and my soul does not disappear. I don’t become a different person, even when I am my most hangry, I just become a slightly less fueled version of myself in a different mood and that is perfectly okay. As someone that is so open about their emotions, I have a shockingly hard time being in a bad mood around other people. I cover it up with more jokes and fake laughter until I have (or think I have) fooled the people around me into believing that I am in a perpetual good mood, which, of course, is not possible and is certainly not the case.
Later yesterday evening we went back to the room to freshen up before dinner. I decided a power nap was definitely in order. As Domi and I laid down next to each other, Domi took my head in his hands, looked me in the eye and said, “the most true you can be to yourself is the best version of you there is.” I smiled, kissed the palm of his hand and laid down my head to rest.
When I woke back up, I was in a much better mood. Rested and fed, the world felt different. Everything felt more doable, but as we went through the rest of our day and then our day sightseeing today, I kept what Domi had told me in the back of my mind. The most true I can be to myself, is the best version of me there is.
So, today, when I was tired, I let myself be tired, when I was just not in the mood I shrunk my head into my massive knit scarf like a little turtle disappearing from the world and when I was in a good mood I laughed and made jokes and I did so from the heart. None of it was forced, because I just went with it.
So, for those of you people-pleasers out there that think you’re doing everyone around you a service by making them happy at your expense, please, for me (and yourself), stop. You are wonderful just as you are. Every emotion, every up, every down. Whatever it is, it’s lovely and it’s a part of you and as one of my very favorite Dr. Seuss sayings goes, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”
Happy Sunday friends!! It’s almost the new year, holy guacamole batman, I have a lot of reflecting to do!! Sending big, big love. Xoxoxo, CAMDW