Take Back the Pen

October 8, 2018

Take back the pen.


You gave it away a long time ago – probably unconsciously – and you’ve started living their story instead of your own.


Don’t worry, my dearest Warriors. It happens to the best of us.


Today as I was cleaning out my car …


Okay, fine. You caught me. I wasn’t cleaning out my car. I was throwing dog toys and rollerblades and other random items around looking for a book. (The things we keep in our cars, am I right?)


Anyway, the point is, during my search I found a piece of paper tucked neatly between the passenger’s seat and the center console. As soon as I realized what my fingers had unknowingly touched, my instant physiological reaction was to cringe and jump back, as though there were a wasp waiting there just for me.


This piece of paper – a certificate – was given to me when I was still in graduate school studying for my Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s degree. It was the end of my three year program, right before graduation, and my class had a party to celebrate our accomplishments. As a part of this celebration, everyone was given “Most Likely To” certificates from our supervisors.


Being that it was a therapy program, there were a few: “Most likely to lend an empathetic ear”, or maybe the more humorous, “Most likely to walk into class with two cups of coffee”. They were sweet. They were cute. And then my name was called, and my supervisor read:


“Most likely to fly under the radar.”


No one laughed. In fact, one of my classmates who must have sensed the shift in the air (again, this was a room of therapists), shouted out, “We love you, Jess!”


I took that piece of paper and wondered for the rest of the night what the intention behind those words were. Fly under the radar? Did it mean most likely to do the minimum amount of work and still graduate? Did it mean most likely to not be seen? In my mind, it was the opposite of how I’d previously envisioned myself. In my mind, I was a hard working student who put in the effort to make good grades, learn my craft, and more importantly, connect with my clients. But in that one ten second moment, my story shifted.


I gave away the pen to my story, without even realizing it.


As weeks, months, and then years passed, I allowed that certificate to define who I am. Whenever I felt down on myself, or doubted my abilities, or hit any kind of bump in the road, my negative self-talk kicked in – in the voice of a piece of paper. “Well, of course I’m not good enough for this. It’s because I always fly under the radar.”


Warriors, I don’t know why my supervisor gave me that specific certificate. I don’t know if she thought it was funny, or if there was some part of her that believed I wasn’t living up to my potential and she felt the need to call me out on it in front of my entire class right before graduation. But what I’ve come to realize since stumbling across that piece of paper this morning is this:


It doesn’t matter.


It really doesn’t matter what the intent behind the words were, because that is not my story. That certificate represents someone else’s perception of me. Perceptions are built from people’s individual life experiences. My supervisor’s perception of me was not the be-all end-all Ultimate Truth. It may have been true for her, based on her perception. But it is not MY TRUTH.


I’ve held onto that certificate for too long, allowing it to define me and my sense of self-worth. It’s time to let it go, and take authority over the authorship of my own story.


I’ve made a ritual of it, and I encourage you to do the same if you have ever experienced anything similar. (I’m sure most people can say that there has been a time in their life when someone else’s perception of them impacted their confidence in some way.)


Whatever that thing is that you’ve taken on as a part of your story – write it down. Rip it to shreds. Burn it. Stomp on the ashes beneath your feet. Do whatever you must do to remove that story from your psyche. And then, make yourself a new “most likely to” certificate. When I did this, I found I couldn’t pick just one. Some examples included:


Most likely to:

• Spread her wings and soar

• Take a leap of faith

• Speak her truth

• Live life fearlessly

• Share her light with the world

• Love herself fiercely and unconditionally


By the end of my ritual, I had a list of 20 “most likely to”’s, when at first I’d thought it would be a struggle to come up with just one! I found that as I reclaimed my story, I started to realize how super awesome I am, and the words continued to flow.


Live YOUR Truth, Warriors. In the end, it’s the only Truth that matters.


Happy Writing.


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