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What saddens my heart is seeing people, especially children being stuck in a mold. Not actual mold, that’s gross. I’m talking about being molded into someone they’re not. Taking the shape of others is easy. We’re easily accepted. But are we being true to ourselves? Are you in a mold? Are you ‘molding’ someone else right now? Learn how to break away from all that and how to teach your children to be free.
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes because it encourages us to be unique individuals.
A few years ago I was given a winter squash mold. These molds are used to shape a squash while they grow. The mold is a clear plastic shape, kind of like a mask. When the squash is young, the mold goes over the top of it. When the squash grows it will shape itself to the mold. Interesting, eh? After the mold is filled the squash is taken out of the mold and put on display. The squash mold gift I received was in the shape of a scary face. Gosh, I’d be scared too if that mold was to shape every squash in my garden.
When I thought about this mold, I really didn’t like the idea of it because the mold wouldn’t allow the squash to have any unique character, or for that matter look like a squash. I enjoy seeing God’s creation take on the shape and color of what God intended his creation to be.
Our own identity
Finding my own identity being the baby of five children was really difficult. I have three older sisters and an older brother. I really enjoyed my childhood with all my siblings. But as I got older I noticed something I was doing and I didn’t like it. I was getting scared.
Being the last of the litter has some advantages and some disadvantages. One advantage is learning the lessons your siblings learned and not getting in trouble as they did. One disadvantage is copying your siblings. I watched all my older siblings go through life before I got there. And because I knew no different, I copied their identity. It was like I was at a store, I took a little identity from one sibling and took a little more from the others.
Copying was easy to do, but by the time I was a senior in high school I didn’t like myself because I wasn’t myself. I was trying to be like my older siblings and my friends. I was stuck in a mold or as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, I was on their path and not my own.
How am I going to fix this?
Don’t get me wrong, my family taught me good morals, responsibility, and about Jesus; but I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to become. This was my fault. I did this, not my siblings, nor my parents. It was me. How am I going to fix this?
As a kid, I would play by myself when I got the chance. I looked so forward to that time because I could play how I wanted to play! As a teenager it was tough. Our bodies go through so many changes and we get so worried if we’ll be accepted or not. The teenage years can be a real struggle for identity seekers, hence the copying I did. The problem with me is that I couldn’t get away from influencers. I still tried to spend some time alone, particularly on a run or walk through the woods with my cat, but it wasn’t enough.
After graduating high school I knew I had to change. I had to find ME! One thing I did was go on a ‘solo adventure’ from time to time. This is essentially “me time”. It’s a time where I spend time alone without any influences from people I know. It sounds weird, but it’s super healthy and critical in checking-in with yourself about who you are. Even as a parent. “Me time” gives me sanity and refreshes my spirit so I can be a great mom.
Be aware of molds
There are a lot of molds out there. Molds from friends and siblings to name a few. When you have developed a habit of scheduling a regular “me time”, you become more aware of your identity and the influences around you. It becomes easier to be yourself around others because you have more confidence in being who you are.
When you know yourself, you’ll recognize instances where people try to mold you and you can put a stop to it right away. I’m not talking about being rude and yelling “Heck no!” Unless you say it in a funny way. I’m talking about recognizing when people are wanting you to do something you don’t want to do. If you can at least see that that is happening, then you have won. It’s then your decision to decide whether you want to engage or not. Just know who you are. Don’t let someone mold you into someone you’re not. You’re a strong person who has confidence in herself!
That’s the other thing about ‘solo time’. It creates confidence in ourselves. When I intentionally go on a ‘solo’ trip its for me to spend time with me. To learn more about my own opinions, passions, and desires. As much as I love my family and friends, it’s important to take myself on a date so-to-speak every once in a while and check-in with myself. When we know more about ourselves we naturally gain more confidence in who we are.
For us parents, it’s easy to put our child into a mold. Yes, it’s our responsibility to teach them right from wrong. We are to help them learn how to live an independent life and contribute to society. Parents teach us about how to eat and take care of ourselves. We are the biggest influence on our kids, but we must let our children do what they love. If they are interested in dance, let them dance. Please don’t tell them they can’t dance because ‘we’re not dancers’. Let them explore different things so they can learn about who they are, what they like, and what they don’t have any interest in doing. If you want a happy kid, let them learn about themselves.
3 ideas to encourage your kids to be themselves
- Make them play by themselves. Separate the siblings and give each kid their own ‘solo time’. Whether you send them to their room or outside. Give them some space to do their own thing in their own way.
- Siblings have a way of comparing and competing. I suggest taking a walk and having a 1:1 conversation with each kid. It’s like a mini-date with mom or dad. Talk with them about how unique and different they are, how it’s important to be true to yourself and to be your own person. Tell them a story about you and your identity journey. Please do this with each child at separate times, not with all the kids together.
- Give them a coloring book. I know it sounds funny, but coloring or drawing gives kids and adults the freedom to choose what colors to pick or what to draw. There are no rules which is what you want with coloring, not even to stay in-between the lines. Here are some fun options whether you’re a kid or an adult. Adult coloring book. Kids Coloring Book Awesome Animals, I am Confident, Brace & Beautiful coloring book for girls.
One of the things I love about ‘solo time’ is that it’s a time where I can wear my ‘relaxed face’ and not have people ask me if I’m okay because I look mad. Ha ha ha! You know what I’m talking about don’t you?
‘Solo’ time gives me the freedom to relax and uncover more discoveries about myself that would have otherwise be drowned out by noise. Know what I mean? I’m not saying to become an introvert, not at all! Just remember to carve out some time for you to not have to react to others. Time to only think about yourself and for you to love-on yourself the way you like to. This is especially important for parents and spouses.
By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.
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