I’ve been thinking a lot about “my story,” recently. Okay, as a small business owner, I’m thinking about it all the time. How do I tell it? What does anyone want to know, anyway? How can I distill it into digestible pieces that create a cohesive understanding of how I came to be persuading you to slather your body in herb-infused oils? How trite of me would it be if I were to write this sort of, “woe is me, I’m a just a ‘lil nobody,” kind of post, anyway? (I’m truly not trying to do that, but I see how those last couple of sentences were starting to sound suspect, so I’ll just invite you to hang in there with me here!)
Here’s the thing, though. I’m NOT a nobody. My story is honestly brimming with, “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” sort of tales, some of which are relevant to why you’re here and want to read what I have to say. I have also been at this whole herbalism thing a lot longer than I give myself credit for. So while that self-deprecating garbage has a place right at the top of the heap with the rest of the lies I tell myself, the actual truth is simply that I haven’t been showing up in the online space the way I would like to for my business and that has been nagging at me like crazy for at least two years. I would tell myself, “I will as soon as I catch my breath between the holiday rush and market season picking up again”, or that I’ll start working on this piece for the autumn equinox on the summer solstice so that when the St. John’s Wort oil is ready to decant I’ll be ready with the content to push it out. Then I’d realize I wished I had done such and such blog post months ago because it would have been perfect to reference with this new idea I just landed on… and on and on along the shame spiral complete with a whole lot of “should-ing” on myself.
What about a reframe?
It finally occurred to me the other day that I never actually told myself to simply begin. I would set an arbitrary future deadline for it that I knew I wasn’t serious about ever meeting because for some reason I didn’t actually want to do it, and so I never actually fired the starting gun. Now, be gentle with me for the fact that I’m newly unpacking this idea — like this is so new that y’all are essentially reading it in real time — and let us simply celebrate the fact that I’m ready to belly up to the accountability table on this one. I further went on to examine why I keep playing small…
It’s probably not surprising that the conclusion I’m hovering over is that I have been endlessly searching for a certain archetype online for years now and have never quite found them. This has become especially poignant for me over the past decade or so since I left my hometown and the comfort of a friend circle where I had a strong sense of my own identity and a pretty secure sense of belonging. While a variety of things have messed with my sense of identity over the past decade, I don’t think any one thing has screwed with me as much as social media. On one hand, I draw a fair amount of inspiration from these feeds because I am endlessly fascinated by art and creativity and the people who create (not to mention where they create… *swoon*) There are also ways in which I may not have grown in recent years if it weren’t for being able to find these glimpses of bits and pieces of the archetype I’m talking about while scrolling. I have seen parts of me reflected back to me within parts of many other people, women especially, in the most cathartic of ways. I have also heavily relied on social media to fulfill the actual social side of my life since well before the pandemic, as we traveled around meeting many new people frequently and that just didn’t fill my cup in quite the same way that having higher density relationships with fewer people does. Follow that up with becoming a mother (of twins, just take my word here that it adds nuance) and the way that fucks with your social life.
That being said, it is also necessary to acknowledge the ways in which social media use can be equated with self-harm. While I have found it soothing to feel less alone when I see a woman who looks like me, to laugh at a meme that is 100% my sick sense of humor, or to pick up the end of a thread that leads to a breakthrough session for me in therapy the following week, I have also too often found myself yearning for what I (probably falsely) perceive certain people to have that I do not. Sometimes that comes across in the form of a, “fuck yes, THAT is goals!” or an, “I’ve wanted to learn to do that forever! I wonder if they have any info on how to start?” which is all okay to an extent. Then there are these other times where I find myself scrutinizing content in a way that, if I’m being really honest, I never even did at the peak of the worst self-image years of my youth. How is that not self-harm? To look upon the life of another through a lens that you can literally zoom in to examine every hair on another person’s head, looking for something that either vilifies them or validates you? And that’s just on the side of me as a consumer of social media. The excuse then becomes a combination of one of my favorite flavors of procrastination (comparison) over wanting my content to be “just so,” before I can begin, and a general and genuine dislike of what social media is.
Still sounds like you’re trying to talk yourself out of this, Janelle…
So I’ve been able to shove all that to the side and keep busy doing well enough at my in-person events and markets. I am actually quite pleased with what I’ve been able to accomplish over the past couple of years, especially considering what my personal life has looked like in the midst of all that. I honestly love the customer service side of things, having been in CSR my whole working life, and have been quite proud of myself for the confidence I found myself having when I was selling my own products, which is altogether different than selling someone else’s let me tell you. However, my massage school schedule directly interferes with my having much of an in-person market season for 2023. I will be able to sneak in a few bigger events throughout the year, but otherwise the bulk of the market season is in complete conflict with my school schedule up until probably September. That means it’s time to invest my energy in my website/blogging and sorting out my feelings on this whole social media scene.
That all brings me back to how I’ve been pondering my why… I’ve probably sat in a dozen workshops or business class cohorts, and given just as many descriptions of who my ideal customer is so that I can then create their avatar and somehow magically be able to speak to them in a language only they can hear. Okay, well, first of all…not only did it take me years to figure out what business I was actually creating here, it then took me a couple more to finally admit that I am (or have been at various points in my life) my own target audience. I suppose the real question I need to address is: At what point will I give myself permission to stop searching for and instead become the person I have been scrolling around the internet for? Why, because if I’m the person I’m looking for, that means I have to allow myself to be seen. Well, fuck.
So I started writing this post the other day. I have been waking up with the sun most days recently, sometimes even as early as when the rooster used to crow outside my bedroom window when we kept chickens, and I remember this was the kind of waking that got my mind going despite every effort and desire to get back to sleep quickly. I found myself thinking about all this and being frustrated, and hating the month of January and the artificial anxiety that still comes stalking me at the New Year despite having not even remembering the last time I made any kind of “resolution,” and just needing to at least start getting it out so that I could begin to sort it all. I can’t recall exactly where this landed, but I know this all came erupting out of me with the New Moon energy, however, it’s all a bit of a blur because that also coincides with my getting sick for the first time since August 2020 (Spoiler alert, we finally got Covid. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad for anyone!) Then a couple of days ago I finally listened to this episode of Britten LaRue’s podcast Moon to Moon, and found my triple-Cancerian self smiling, nodding, and definitely cackling along the way.
You must be kidding me… What are you on about now?
There were a couple of points that stood out to me as being spot on for this post, such as at about minute 16:45 she says, “usually at this time of year we are really preoccupied with what we want this year to be based on what sucked about us last year… what sucked about us all the years before, and we’re out in the future visualizing this potential self, or this aspirational self, that’s out there.” She goes on to remind us (me) that January doesn’t have to be the worst month of the year, and that it’s okay to, “be babies,” in that sense that we can be new at something, over and over again if need be. She talks about the phase of the dark moon, or the listening phase of something new, where we are attuning and listening, and invites us to consider employing a lunar practice to deepen this process of taking ourselves from baby to ancient again and again, as a means to foster deep and lasting change.
Later in the episode (48:55) she is examining the dichotomy of what she had previously defined as, “Capricorn doesn’t coddle,” and the Cancerian wisdom she had shared in an Instagram post I around the concept of worrying being conflated as caretaking, which just so happens to be a personal struggle I have been actively working on for several years now. She then says, “How can we hear ourselves and be wholly participating, and committed, and married to the emergent path we must take — the thing we must do, not should — when we’re carrying on all that caretaking energy, the coddling energy, the worrying as love language energy that keeps us, actually, disembodied? Worrying for other people all the time, worrying what other people are even thinking about us, takes us out of the present moment which is where we can be wholly participating in our lives.”
And then finally, I’ll return to something she said in the very beginning of the episode (8:05 or so), as she’s laying out the scene for us of journeying through a full lunar cycle, from “baby to ancient.” From a beginner’s or Aries mind (astrologically) at the New Moon, through to the crone-like wisdom in the end of the lunar cycle which comes with the age and wisdom of the later signs of Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. She describes the dark moon at the end of the lunar cycle (before the transition to the official New Moon, the beginning of the next cycle) as being, “just really old with this stuff, so that there’s this crone/elder self inside that’s like, ‘Aha. Yes. This is what I’ve been learning. This is what is here.’ And this is such an old part of you that you’re quite skilled at knowing what fucks about the information really matter, and what’s like time to release caring about that. ‘I see what I was giving too many shits about. Mmhmm. THAT’S crystal clear.'” I heard that and thought to myself, “Fuckin’ A, right! This is what all that restlessness was about. This is the message, and as the rest of the episode played it was as though I was listening to the voicemail the universe had left me when I woke in the early hours of the dark moon and knew I had to simply begin — with this post.
This brings me around full circle to the thing I am coming to understand is what I must do, and that is to stop giving so many shits about whether I’m doing things right or if I’m allowed to love the things I love, and that I can begin to embody the person I’ve been seeking for myself. It’s time to face up to the fact that I’m not going to find the underrepresented parts of me in enough quantities outside of myself to find this need met externally. The disembodied voice in my head is telling me it’s tired of questioning and scrutinizing itself so much, and that while aspirations and a drive for self-improvement are good, suffering is not a prerequisite to growth. It is time to begin. (Pssst, that means come back for Part II)
Resources & References:
- Moon to Moon podcast with Britten LaRue; Episode 77. We Are Pattern-Breaking: A Dark Moon Download: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/77-we-are-pattern-breaking-a-dark-moon-download/id1503553925?i=1000595550614