I was wracking my brain with what to write about this morning when I came across the blog of Kelley Moore. Her post struck me quite like a bolt of lightning because this is something I struggle with on a daily basis: being myself vs. what I think others want me to be. And oftentimes, I lose. More than I’d like to admit, I’ve lived my life based off of the judgments of others and this induces such a fear inside of me that I simply continue to bury myself within myself.
A vicious cycle.
I once surrounded myself with fake niceties and cosmopolitans, short dresses and high heels and somehow, lots and lots of money, just to get one leg further up the totem pole. I wasn’t successful by any means, but I wanted to seem successful, because that’s what really matters, right…? I mean, I rubbed shoulders with Jennifer Lopez, I laughed with Patch Adams, I shook the hand of Jane Goodall, and I have Ben Stein’s number in my phone. Isn’t that what counts…?
(Yup, that’s me)
When I moved from the city, away from the movers and shakers, and into a domesticated, country lifestyle, I felt….lost. Who do I perform for now? But I also felt a sense of ease that I hadn’t felt for a long, long time. Finally, I could breathe. Finally I could be myself.
But who was I?
This is a question that I continue to juggle. A part of me still longs for the excitement and glamour of the rock star life, but the bigger part of me wants simplicity. I suppose I am simply trying to find myself between the mediocre and melodramatic, who I want to be and who I think I should be.
As Kelley so aptly stated (original source unknown)…
I will be 31 in less that a month, and at this point I’m not where I thought I’d be. And frankly, this scares the shit out of me. I thought I’d be more successful, I thought I’d be better traveled, I thought I’d be throwing interesting dinner parties for interesting people, and I thought I’d be a mother that could do it all. In my head, it’s all worked out: I should be flourishing, I should be an affluent business owner, and people should notice my success. In reality, my shoulda, woulda, couldas are only bringing me down, down, down.
What I am very, very slowly coming to realize is that life is so much more enjoyable when living it for yourself. Not for who you were, or for what others think you should be, or even for who you think you should be, but for who you are at this very moment. Learn from the past and look forward to the future, but live in the present, be true to yourself, and love yourself for it. Yes, love your authentic self, even if that authentic self is currently a floundering and lost soul!
I think Anne Lamott said it best in her 2003 Berkley graduation commencement address:
…here I am sort of bragging about being a dropout, and unemployable, and secretly making a pitch for you to follow your creative dreams, when what they [your parents] want is for you to do well in your field, make them look good, and maybe also make a tiny fortune.
But that is not your problem. Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.
So go out and seek my dear readers!