Friday, February 22, 2013
It's All About Me
Am I vain? Self-absorbed? If I want happiness for myself, fulfillment, success...are those things wrong? No. And yes. And NO. This post might read a little like a chapter in a fruity, self-help book, but I have recently changed my ever-evolving outlook on how I want to live and, although happiness and success often take the back burner to necessity and survival lately, as I look ahead, there are constant changes looming, new ways of approaching how I exist, and I want to be open to them. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it...does it still make a sound? If I have thoughts that never leave my own head, will they still matter?
I had a bit of an epiphany this morning. Sitting in the recording studio of a musician friend who is so like me it's almost comical, she and I were working on a wild, dream-big, far fetched project, which is nuts (and might be perceived as over our heads) but so what? As we brainstormed, we were bemoaning the fact that there's so much MORE to us that we want to put out there. Other facets to explore and share. Why? Why do we so desperately want to connect with people? Everyone everywhere if possible. Why do we want to BE something so badly? Why do we need to gratify ourselves this way? Make our mark on the world. Be known. Be heard. Speak our minds. MATTER. We both laughed as we joked: "Oh, you know...because it's all about ME!" Then, it dawned on us that a bigger question had surfaced: WHY IS THAT WRONG?
You know what? At the end of our lives, we'll have to take stock, have to sort through our accomplishments and joys...Do we want to be left wishing we'd wrote that book, ran that race, recorded that song, played that part? Do we want our kids to learn from our example and relish life with abandon - take those fantastic opportunities when they come, not to mention MAKE opportunities when there are none? I was trying to explain to my parents that if I could eliminate all fear of criticism from my life, I could do anything. I COULD. We all could. But we're afraid to try. And the sad part is: we are not afraid of the possible failure, but just how our efforts will LOOK to others. We are embarrassed. Because if we want to do something that could be viewed as 'attention getting', vain or selfish, it's the world's job to give us the smack down, tell us we AREN'T anything special, make sure we don't get too big for our britches. When really, I think we should go ahead and get bigger britches each time we outgrow the last set. We should have a hundred pairs of figurative, BIGGER BRITCHES hanging in our closets, darn it! Not special my ass.
It's hard being an adult, ridiculously ironic even, since as a child, your parents likely impressed upon you that you could go to the moon, be a ballerina, The President, a movie star, ANYTHING. You were great, perfect the way you were, the future was wide open, no dream too big. But as you got older, believing in yourself started to become something that was frowned upon. A fairy tale you had to outgrow. I have personally experienced this. I once thought I could fly. Unfortunately, out and about as a grown-up in this life, if you acknowledge that you have a gift, other people cringe and you instantly feel humiliated. A taboo thing. Considered rude to continue to like yourself or dream big throughout adulthood. How screwed up!
When did being proud of yourself become a crime?
I have so many things I'm good at but, in the eyes of society, it's wrong to say that OR actively pursue these ideas. 99% of you that read this might think I'm snotty for supposing I have (please read this in a mocking sarcastic voice) "soooooo many things I'm good at..." In fact, just today, I heard someone remark scornfully: "Oh, they sing because they want the whole world to notice them. They can't deal with just being a regular person." The derision in the tone was...mean. Like it was the most disgusting thing to want to be the best you can be. I'd like to point out that there is no sin in wanting to be noticed. For having something to say and wanting to be heard. Because that's about letting people know that we are all the same. If you put yourself out there, somebody else might recognize themselves in you, or in what you're saying. And that's IMPORTANT. It could change their life, it could change yours. Having the opportunity to be a messenger, to make yourself public, share, well, it opens up possibilities everywhere.
I've been told it's embarrassing/insensitive/rude to write personal thoughts on-line where everyone can see them, but I disagree. Releasing true feelings is the glue that will hold all humans together, and if I can be part of that, I will. Our lives are centered around judging and being judged. Nearly every. single. move. we. make. Imagine letting that go?
For instance, the way we compare ourselves to each other, every woman despises someone else looking her up and down because she might not pass the test. Yet as much as we hate being judged, we judge in return. We hate ourselves because, in a way, we have been taught that it is more fitting and polite to say, "I have SUCH fat thighs!" instead of, "I love my body!" Seriously, it IS! If you walked around loving yourself and saying so, people would think you were a complete shit...how stupid is that?!?! So basically, the goal we have for our children is one we rarely practice. It's a fight we cannot win. When projected hatred of ourselves or, at best, false modesty, wins out over honesty, dreams and self-love, what kind of world is this? Why do we bother to tell our kids how terrific they are, if eventually they must hide it, or think the opposite, to fit in?
How amazing it would be if we could ditch all that, and eliminate fear of criticism. Especially when it comes to loving ourselves and believing that we can fly. If we could be honest enough to KNOW we could do anything. Instead of letting the insecurities bring us down, along with worry that people will think we are selfish and vain for believing WE have the right to reach for the stars.
A teenage girl looks in the mirror, makes a face and insists that she is ugly, hideous. Her friend sitting nearby, painting her toenails with a bored expression, must argue that, no, in fact SHE is the uglier one. It's a game we play. We say we are having a bad hair day to cover up our pride for a new hair style. We down ourselves on purpose and then our friends will top us with their own "bad hair day". Utterly pointless, and a sure reason we are unhappy. It's all the rage to belittle yourself! We go around wondering why people bully, why people have eating disorders, why people kill even, and I believe that it stems back to self loathing and society's unspoken anti-pride policy.
I hate it when you go to an art show, a concert, a reading, any event where someone's talent is being showcased and when you compliment that person, they feel that the polite response is to deny that they have a gift. They will even point out their mistakes and flaws. It's insane! But worse, if they actually said: "Hey thanks, I think my music is wonderful too, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!" we would walk away perhaps thinking that person an insufferable snob. FOR SPEAKING THE TRUTH. For being proud of themselves. For taking a dream and following it though. For their happiness and self worth. WHY? Is it jealousy? Is is awkward to be in the presence of someone honest? I recently was speaking to a man who flabbergasted me with his knowledge on a subject. When I mentioned it, he replied, "Well, I'm very observant and well read." I was taken aback, thinking momentarily that he was a super arrogant jerk. Why could I say it but he could not? It was HIS talent, HIS skill, he's the one that has fought his personal demons to get there, why shouldn't he have the right to say he was smart and take pride in himself? He wasn't hurting anyone. He wasn't saying he was better than me. He was just stating a fact. A fact that we've been taught to hide.
Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it. Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it - Thaddeus Golas
Every January, people make New Year's Resolutions...usually a list of things they dislike about themselves. Perhaps, instead, we should all try to make a list of what we love about ourselves. We'll find it's much harder to do. Does it have to be that way? Try. Try and list the ways you are wonderful...it'll make you squirm.
I think we should change our way of thinking. We expect people to love themselves only after we give them our permission, and even then, they must cover it with over-the-top modesty. Self worth is all wrapped up in others when it ought to be wrapped up in YOU, in ME. Different gifts mean different things to different people. Why should I care if my friend's approval is given or not? She might not have the same dreams as I do. If I love something, and I do it well, my OWN approval is all that's needed. Hold your head high and understand you're worth it. An idea which is hopefully lurking in your mind still, leftover from childhood. GET THAT BACK. Because, in the end, it's all about you. And it should be. The rest of your interactions, your relationships, your perceptions, they all depend on YOU. We have to end letting others take responsibility for our happiness. Don't listen to your mother, brother, ex-husband, sulky friend...listen to yourself. Whatever issues they have with you are THEIR issues. YOU are the one living your life. You have a right to do what you want with it. Harm no one, but give it all you've got. Because you've got more than you know. And you know it.
Posted by Emily at 4:12 PM