Zahra is Burning

Be You, Unapologetically

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I want to be: who I want to be for my family, for my husband and kids; for my clients; for myself.

As a people-pleaser from a young age, I trained myself to put the needs of everyone else above my own– how could I ease the burdens of my single-mom who was stressed out from running her own business and supporting us while also trying to raise my older siblings and me in a foreign country? And, who was probably, silently, combatting her own loneliness and depression during that time. What could I do to endear myself to my older siblings so they would let me hang out with them (and so I wouldn’t have to be by myself)?

As I grew older, what did I need to do to foster relationships with friends to be remembered, especially as we moved to new towns and cities every few years? And, as an adult, what did I need to do to be “a good girlfriend” or “a good partner”?

Somewhere along the way, I learned the false lesson that, when it comes to being loved, who I am doesn’t matter nearly as much as what I do for other people. That, to be loved, I need to make myself indispensable by doing all of the things for all of the people and never asking for anything in return.

So I found myself traveling hundreds of miles most weeks to see significant others who lived in other cities (DC, Boston, later LA). I found myself indulging in everyone else’s interests and hobbies and preferences, while keeping my own quietly to myself. I gave, and gave, and gave, without complaint, until my tensions and resentments grew so large that I had no choice but to break the relationship to free myself. This usually left my partners feeling dazed and confused about what had actually happened.

This relationship with my husband is the first in which I truly feel seen, and loved, and valued for who I am, rather than what I do.

But it is still a struggle to re-write 30+ years of programming, particularly when it comes to my family of origin, to my children, to my employees, and to clients. It is difficult to not jump in and want to give everything to everyone, to say yes to every opportunity, to not run myself ragged trying to please everyone else. It is difficult to quiet my monkey-mind, to enjoy some tea, to think, to write.

In this upcoming year, I want to focus on being me. All of the time. Not who I think I should be for my family, for my husband and kids, for my clients.

I don’t know if you struggle with this, too, dear reader. But if you do, I hope you will join me in this upcoming year on focusing on being you, fully and unapologetically. Because despite your own years of negative programming, you are exactly who this world needs you to be. Will you join me?

With love, Pantea

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