Black and White photo of author showing her lip piercing and tattoos. She is smiling and ok with living a life others don't understand. She also wears a black Led Zeppelin tee from Target.

"The older I get, the more I realize that it's okay to live a life other's don't understand." -Courtney Carver

Many of us can relate to the burden of familial and social expectations.
My grandfather (rest his soul) was a perfectionist, valedictorian of his class, and a brilliant businessman. He married his college sweetheart, bought a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood, became CFO of his company, and raised a family- a testament to the American Dream! He taught his children and grandchildren to follow this recipe and to maintain a good reputation so you would always have stellar references.
I loved my gramps with all my heart and while I get that his intention was to keep me happy and secure in my life, it manifested in subtle cues and comments that sent the message to me that as long as I performed as expected, I would be worthy of his love and approval. Sound familiar? What this did to me was strip away any qualities and characteristics innate to ME. There was no room to fully embrace and love my whole self. And when I would be brave enough to "rebel" and show my true self *just a little*, I was met with disapproving looks and told as such. This caused me to always doubt myself and I lacked confidence. I was always striving to be enough for him and because of that, I was never enough for myself.
I carried this with me into my 30's- through marriage (to my high-school sweetheart), buying a house, and having kids  (that American Dream recipe), until I finally hit a wall. I sought therapy and ultimately started antidepressants and I woke the hell up! It felt like meeting myself for the first time and realizing I was AMAZING! I was brave and took life by the reigns, I loved out loud, dressed up, shaved half my head, got tattoos and more piercings! It was exciting!
But that time was *equally* wracked with crushing guilt from the inevitable and gutting fallout. I felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; half of me was high on freedom and the other half a total wreck- grieving, and depressed.
Reconciling the two has taken hard work, patience, love, and trust in the process. I am growing through this incredibly hard time and learning that I AM ENOUGH. I have forgiven my grandfather and given myself permission to live a life others don't understand.

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