One of my all time favorite romantic comedies is Runaway Bride, featuring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. In this movie, Julia, playing Maggie Carpenter, is forever a fiance, never a bride. She consistently makes it to the altar and at the last second, bolts! Gere is a reporter who covers her fourth dash from “I do.” This movie walks Maggie through the realization that her relationships have been built around carefully adjusting her identity to match the man she is in a relationship with. Her true self never shows up. It is all wrapped up in the reality that she does not know how she likes her eggs — scrambled, poached or fried? Her preference aligns with whatever her current significant other likes — she has no ownership of self. She is wearing a mask to make it work until she reaches the altar and realizes it is not long-term sustainable. Over and over, she bolts.
One day it dawned on me — I used to be a runaway me.
Right now, I have a strong sense of self ownership but historically, I was a runaway me. I showed up in relationships with family, friends and colleagues in a way that morphed and adapted to what they wanted me to be. Like our preference for eggs — it seems small and insignificant. But the significance is in our denial of our true selves.
For a consistent period of time I’m afraid I was most comfortable as a Runaway Me. I look back on those seasons and know that I wanted to fit it, make sense and go with the friend-flow. If they liked sushi, I’d find a way to like it. If they shopped at a particular store, I’d go visit it too. If they had an opinion I had a tendency to match mine to theirs. Much like Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, I didn’t know I was doing it. I had no idea I was a Runaway Me.
In Runaway Bride, Roberts’ path back to herself and ultimately to a successful trip down the altar, begins with honesty regarding who she is and clarity surrounding how she likes her eggs cooked.
In many ways, my career change from Law Enforcement to Marketing prompted my journey back to myself. We were also welcoming our first child into the world — it was a lot of major change all at once. It was a season of life marked with fear and anxiety about what the future held for me but also provided an opportunity to reflect and reach down deep to determine what makes me tick. Since so much was changing, I had to figure out what was true about me that would transcend circumstances, careers and seasons.
Here is what I learned…
- I love people deeply. I believe people are by far the most important thing on this earth and demonstrating love and care for others has to remain top priority in business, family and amongst friends. This is a direct result of my faith and love for Jesus.
- Life should be enjoyed and lived to the fullest. Our time here is so short and tomorrow is not promised. Let’s set our eyes on all that is good and let’s hold it tight. Happiness is a temporary state of being, joy transcends circumstances. I choose joy.
- I love to encourage and inspire. I am so honored anytime I am given the opportunity to support others — whether writing a blog or delivering a keynote address. Communicating with others in meaningful ways makes my heart feel full and makes me feel like I’m living my purpose.
- If what I’m doing isn’t purpose-driven or intentional then I don’t get the point. I love to know “why” and that helps me figure out the how.
- I am a big, HUGE kid at heart. When I’m not working I’m in comfy clothes and busy learning, laughing and playing alongside my kids.
- The most important things in life require a lot of work — and I am willing to put in that work! Whether it is a marriage, parenting, career or pursuit of a big dream. Perseverance and a willingness to push through the hard moments result in beauty on the other side.
- My favorite color is yellow. I don’t care what fashion says about what should be in. When I’m in a vibrant and sunny hue I find that my mood lifts and my spirits match the tone it sets. It loops back to my desire for joy and a vibrant living. In my world, yellow is always in style.
- Coffee, fuzzy socks and the view from our back deck consistently lift my spirits and remind me of my blessings. When I take a deep breath and look at God’s beauty, reflected in vibrant sunrises and a gorgeous mountain range, I know that I can make it through the day in an energized and meaningful way.
While this is not an exhaustive list of what makes me, “me” it surely hits the high points. This is me at the most concrete, steadfast level. I love knowing who I am and what I bring to relationships and opportunities. I love feeling sure about where I am my best self and where I bring value. Having this clarity around the real me ensures that no matter what life circumstances I may find myself in, I know what it will take for me to show up in the most genuine and soul-satisfying way possible.
Can we make a deal — no more “Runaway Me” syndrome? Figure out how you like your eggs cooked. Stop fleeing and determine who you are at the truest, purest level. Spend time in quiet reflection and seek margin so that you can properly consider what has been consistently true about you, over your lifetime. Think of some serious and some silly questions that will provide clarity. Here’s a short list to get you started:
- What is one unpopular opinion you hold?
- What is your ideal vacation?
- What is one value you hold that is uncompromising?
- What is your favorite thing about yourself?
- What are you doing when you are at your absolute best?
- What helps you relax when you are feeling really stressed out?
- Are you a morning person or a night person?
- How do you like your eggs cooked? (you know I had to ask!)