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Hi, I’m Ming-Cee and I follow the vanity matrix

I wish I didn’t care about looks as much as I do. But the truth is, I do.

If someone is attractive, lives in a nice home, and drives a fancy car, I automatically put them in the category: How nice it must be to have it all.

I prioritize my spending on clothes and furnishings for my house, then stress over how I’m going to afford paying for chiropractic appointments, alternative healing solutions, vitamins, and my kids’ extra curricular activities.

I feel the whiplash that comes with all the dopamine hits I get with online shopping, then the anxiety I feel when I look into how much a home mold inspection will cost.

I have yet to fully embrace and accept change in this aspect of my life. It’s hard to let go of. I even admitted to our meditation group the other week: “of course I know what I’m going to wear to my high school reunion because when I feel bad on the inside, I know how to look good on the outside.” I’m aware that I’m stuck in between awareness and behavioral changes.

Part of me is still trying to to change just enough to feel better so I can still maintain my vices without consequence. I’m fully aware that old habits and programmed ways of thinking are keeping me stuck. I've experienced enough change to know the hard work is worth it, and yet, a part of me still fights against it like a child who’s only focused on things “not being fair.”

Walking the fine line between understanding my ego + identity has been confusing. I genuinely love fashion and interior design. I also know that shopping is my vice. If you want to know how imbalanced I’m feeling, just count the packages at my front door.

As I do the hard work to better understand myself, I’ve discovered that I prioritize looking good over feeling good because my ego has taken over. Truthfully, it’s been running the show most of my life. My ego perpetuates these old habits by enhancing the fear that my insecurities will be exposed. Exterior validation only adds false security and justifies my shopping addiction.

I also have discovered that this journey to go inside is complicated because I am complicated. I love dressing up, trying new looks, being bold and expressing the many different layers that make up who I am. I love the space that I have created for myself and my family. I enjoy being surrounded by the pretty things I own.

It’s when the newness of the clothes and trinkets wear off that I find myself unsatisfied once again questioning my lack of discipline and self control. My negative reel quickly pops in and life seems to get noisy all at once again. This is when I need the pause the most. When I need to reach for my healing tools instead of my credit card.

It’s in the pause or the break in my inertia that gives me the space to understand myself better. To realize that I have been conditioned to care about materialistic things based on where and how I grew up. These superficial ideals continue to be supported in my daily life and in the noise of societal pressures. Understanding why I’m this way gives me the ability to be less harsh on myself and accept all parts of me.

I am now in a better place where I can embrace the fact that it’s a continual process to discover my balance between my ego + identity. I also embrace the fact that the questions of why I feel a certain way will have a complicated answer because I am a unique and complicated individual.

I am no longer afraid that my façade will be exposed and I accept that there is nothing wrong with me, I have just found my work. There will still be days that I shop, even when I say I don’t want to. I try to give myself some grace and understanding that part of my identity is how I express my creativity through clothes and decorating.

I have also journeyed far enough and have found my tools so when my ego speaks up and my shopping cart is full, I am able to ask myself: who am I performing for? Why do I care so much about what other people think? And, most importantly, how do I feel about myself?

The answers to these questions are uncomfortable, deep-rooted and unflattering but they are also freeing. The fear of my weaknesses being exposed starts to dissipate and the courage to continue addressing my insecurities grows allowing me to be more connected to who I really am. This is what gets me closer to understanding the balance between my ego + identity, and is the catalyst for sustainable change in my life.

As I get older, the vanity matrix still applies but now I am able to find a deeper understanding of the many identities that make up who I am. I have gained more control to know when to let my ego take center stage because I’m becoming more comfortable with my entire self.

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