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Cancer, Boundaries, and Discovering Me With Julia De'Caneva

Cancer, Boundaries, and Discovering Me With Julia De'Caneva - Episode 96

How many times do you feel pressured to do something or make a certain decision because it feels like family or society expects you to. That they are forcing your hand and having you doing things that don’t make you happy and don’t align with your priorities and purpose? It’s something all of us go through. Julia experienced this on multiple levels and had overcome it and more to stand in her greatness. Learn from her story and discover how you can shift away from outside expectations!


Julia De’Caneva grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago with a very rigorous public school system. She came out of high school and went into college as a perfectionist, but her perfectionism was something that she was hoping to let go of. She started dabbling in trying to allow things to just be good enough, but it was very difficult for her. Thankfully, there wasn’t very much familial pressure to be perfect, which was very good for her. After college she started freelance graphic design work and had a job as a professional home organizer where she was introduced to the idea of intentional living. She started thinking about what she actually likes. This can be a struggle for many because we are indicated with what we think society expects and wants of us. However, she had another struggle with it because she had an identical twin sister and had to figure out who she was when she wasn’t being counted as one of a pair. At 29 years old she got diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to stop working, which she considers to be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. She decided to start living her life totally differently and became obsessed with helping people, as well as herself, to learn how to accept what we really want to do and that it isn’t selfish to do so.  

All through high school, Julia and her twin were always together and were counted almost as the same person. That suddenly changed when they went to college because they weren’t going to the same school anymore. She had to figure out what things she actually liked to do because it was always a joint choice. Julia believes that there is no set way to figure it out, it just takes time. Julia was very happy for her sister when she decided to leave, because it meant that her sister would get to pursue a major that she was actually interested in rather than settling for what was available. Julia also realized once her sister left that she herself was the more dominant personality between them and that her sister pretty much just followed along with whatever she wanted to do. She had to learn to step aside from that and accept when her friends wanted to do something else and understand the concept that being an individual only means something because there are other people. 


It took Julia a while to figure out whether or not she was just chasing perfection because she felt it was expected of her or if it was something she really wanted. One of the biggest things she learned from having cancer was taking a step back and really slowing down. Even if you just take five minutes a day to reflect on what you’re doing. Maybe write a journal, check in with yourself for however long you need. Think about how you are feeling at the moment and dive into what is causing that emotion. It will help you realize whether or not you are truly enjoying what you are doing. Once you’ve gotten used to the idea of checking in with yourself it’s good to have an intentional amount of time to write or talk to somebody about what really matters to you. One of Julia’s favorite techniques is imagining you’re cleaning out a closet. Some thoughts you put in a bin and save, and some of it is thrown out or reworked into a new idea. She recommends writing out everything you did that day and going down the list and deciding what stays and what goes. It’s not as simple as just throwing out all of the chores that you don’t like doing of course. For example, if you hate sweeping, you can’t just throw away the broom if you want to have a clean house. The act of sweeping might not bring you joy but having a clean house does. However, if you checked in with a friend who you don’t really like hanging out with because she brings out a lot of negativity, that might be something that you’d want to get rid of. Get rid of the things that you believe society wants you to do if they don’t bring you joy. In the friend scenario, whether or not you get rid of that friend is different for every relationship. You can of course keep the friend in your life if you want to, just don’t do it because you feel you have to. Give yourself grace and allow yourself to let friendships go. Maybe you could discuss it with your friend and open up about how you’re feeling about the relationship. In some cases that may not be well received, decide for yourself whether or not you feel it would be a good idea. If you do decide you want to get rid of that friend, you don’t need to ghost them, you can start messaging or calling them less and less and over time the relationship will fade.


Now if that person is a family member, you probably can’t just cut them from your life. Try to figure out how to place boundaries between you and that person in scenarios where you may need to see them. At the end of th day, you can only control your actions and responses. You have to let go of the hope to control somebody else. Julia was terrible at building boundaries before she had cancer, but she’s gotten much better at them. The boundary you set shouldn’t feel like you need to use all of your energy to maintain it. Think about why it matters to you to set this boundary. Your boundaries may make other people unhappy or uncomfortable, but you can’t prioritize their wellbeing and comfort above your own. Think about it a little bit like dog training. When you break a boundary there are consequences. You’ve given up your time, maybe you did something you didn’t want to do, you may not think of them as consequences, but they are. You can also find a way to reward yourself, maybe take a walk or look at the stars or something of that sort. 


You won’t be able to force yourself to do these things. Focus on why you want to make changes and remember them as you go about your daily life. It may be difficult to continue keeping these changes if you don’t know why you are making them. Give yourself grace with the process, you may fall off every once and a while. Find someone to help support you, maybe a coach or a therapist to help you out. Prioritize yourself and your wellbeing, you are worth it! Just try your best and if you fall off, don’t be ashamed and come back to it! 

If you would like to learn more about Julia you can find her website julia.coach and follow her Instagram @life.coach.julia. I would love to hear what you think about Cancer, Boundaries, and Discovering Me! Send me a message on social media @Jonesinfor or email me at [email protected]