Dawn Klemann


It ain’t always easy being me.

You’ve heard this from me before, but I’m finding it worth repeating.

I experienced this week what it feels like to do what I believe is in my best interest, knowing that a lot of people may be disappointed, frustrated or downright mad at me.

It is a scary place to be, because I am bracing myself for the consequences of my choice. I am anxiously waiting because I know every decision has a consequence, positive or negative.

But in my own life, I am learning to live without regret. What that means to me, is that I do my best to be true to myself, whatever that looks like, while also considering and accounting for the needs of others in the process.

It is not always easy but trust me it’s easier than only doing what others expect or want from me. I’m never at my best playing someone else’s game, and I never win that way either.

So anyway, how does all of this relate to this column? Well, I have been struggling over the past few weeks because for whatever reason, I have a lot of shoulds rattling around in my head. I have shoulds about being a woman. I have shoulds about being a mother, shoulds about being black, shoulds about being a psychologist. … So many shoulds.

I know that people expect me to see things a certain way. They may believe that I should use the opportunity of this column to express what I should believe.

But what I have come to know in writing this column is that my point of view is unique. All of the parts of me influence my view of the world, and as hard as it may be, I have to be true to that.

I would not be genuine or sincere if I spoke only from one part of myself—the woman me, the mother me, the black me, or the psychologist me. Each part of me affects the other, and is evolving with every encountered person and experience.

In fact, the process of writing this column has not only blessed me but has helped clarify who me actually is. Me is a bit surprised! It seems that in some ways, who I am may be different than I thought.

Honestly, it has been much like hearing a recording of yourself for the first time. There is a period where you perceive that there is some kind of technical difficulty or malfunction. “That is not how I sound,” you say. But everyone around you confirms that, indeed, that is exactly how you sound.

Then there is a period of concern that if I don’t like the sound of my voice, no one else does either. Then you realize that most everyone else is actually OK with the sound of your voice. In fact, some may even like it.

So, then you start to listen to yourself a little differently, a little more critically, maybe. Then slowly, you listen with acceptance until you too are actually OK with the sound of your voice.

With help from this column, I’ve come to trust, believe and know that my voice is OK.

Some may think it’s too squeaky, or not loud enough. Some may think I should sound altogether different.

But it is the only voice I have.

So, simply put, I will enjoy and appreciate this voice. I will learn its tempo, its rhythm, and I will tune it just right, so that I can sing well the song I was meant to sing.

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Dawn Klemann, a doctor of psychology, owns PsyD Clinical Solutions in Culpeper. A licensed clinical psychologist and a coaching psychologist, she can be reached at dawn@psydsolutions.com.

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