This post is going to be another practice in contradiction– just puttin it out there now. I have two very important, very opposing points that are central to my message, and while that might be confusing at first, it will come together in the end.
Very Important Point #1: You are special. You are just right, just the way you are. As Dr. Suess says, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”
I mean, you can’t argue with a man who rhymes.
The world is out to make us uniform from the time we go to school at 5 years old and learn to recite the alphabet and stand in lines, to the time we go to the nursing home and all have the same blue hair and walkers with tennis balls. There are fads in every aspect of our lives: what we eat, what we wear, the music we listen to, the restaurants we go to, even the boys (or girls) we like. There is a lot of encouragement to fit in all around, and Lord knows that doesn’t end after high school. The amazing thing is; all of this conditioning, pressure, and squeeeeezing of people into a one-size-fits-all container DOES. NOT. WORK.
Sorry, dude, but you are a unique freaking snowflake, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.
The problem is, all of that squeezing does have one effect- we try really hard to pretend we’re the same, and feel like there is something wrong with us for being different. Like we’re broken because we don’t fit into the container. Fuck that. The container doesn’t fit YOU, not the other way around. We have this freedom to do and live and love as we please, and we spend half our lives resisting that! Resisting FREEDOM! Madness. Clearly I am above all of this and flit about all day long, rejoicing in my uniqueness.
I’m writing this not only because I KNOW it’s true, but also because I KNOW I have to see it and read it and hear it EVERY DAY so I don’t forget. I spent so much of my life trying to do things right, and normal…and I wound up in a ball of anxiety, writhing around in the world unable to even FAKE it anymore. You know that saying, “if you don’t see the weirdo on the bus, YOU are that weirdo?” Well I spent so much time trying not to be the weirdo on the bus that I found myself walking instead. Around my neighborhood, in the snow, wearing too-short green sweatpants and a coat that could fit 3 of me, trying to breathe, not having showered in a week. I was not making a statement about my uniqueness. I was not protesting the institution. I probably needed to be IN an institution. I was just trying to survive a fit of panic brought on by a lifetime of being ashamed of who I was- who I am. Just me.
I still have days when I’m just trying to survive. I’ll always have anxiety, and I’ll always worry about things like how a conversation went or a look someone gave me- even on great days. But now- most of the time- I’m psyched to be me- psyched to like whatever food or music or pimple popping video gets me going. (Don’t click that link if you are easily grossed out. Trust me.) And I really really appreciate the people I meet who celebrate who they are. There are a lot of us out there. And I truly think we all have something super special to share in this life, something no one person will share like any other. And I truly think that is awesome.
Very Important Point #2: Nobody is paying any attention to you. Nobody cares what you’re doing wrong in your life. We all have our shit.
Sorry again, dude. You’re not the only one who screws up. You’re not the MOST screwed up, you’re not even the only one who THINKS they’re the most screwed up. And that’s because nobody really talks about how much they screw up on the daily. Sometimes really, really big.
Did you ever spill coffee on your shirt on the way to work and feel totally self conscious all day? You’re sure they’re all pointing and laughing at you behind your back, and judging you while they go about their day in fresh pressed, spotless, probably designer duds? Weirdly enough, nobody mentions anything to your face?
It’s because they’re not paying any attention to you. They have their own shit to focus on. Some are really really big smelly turds, some teeny little “plops” that will flush away by lunchtime- point is, they don’t have room in their lives to notice your coffee stain, or to care about it, because they are too worried about their crazy family, sick dog, mountainous debt, weird rash, drug problem, paper cut, pregnancy test…..you get the idea.
PLEASE don’t take this to mean that I think your coffee stain isn’t valid- it really really is. And tomorrow, when your coffee stain is a fight with your boyfriend or unpredictable diarrhea (now that’s some shit!), that will be valid too. Feel how you feel, be kind to yourself, and, when you’re ready, take steps to make sure you don’t spill coffee next time, or just give that shirt a good soak and move on. But by worrying about how the world will react to our shit, we can’t get it together enough to DEAL with it. I spent so much time being afraid that everyone or anyone would find out how screwed up I was that I screwed myself up- and it’s a really hard to climb out of that hole. Would you rather build a sandcastle from the slightly imperfect beach surface, or from a ten foot hole that you have to fill in before you even get started?
We all have our shit, and we’re all so hard on ourselves, and we all convince ourselves that we’re the only ones.
Nope. Every unique snowflake becomes a pretty identical drop of water when it melts. (Too much with the metaphors today? Oh well.)
So, in conclusion, you are super duper special and unique, and don’t forget it, or you’re doomed. And we’re all screwed up just the same, and don’t forget it, or you’re doomed.
Just kidding, I wouldn’t do that to you.
In a perfect world, each person would grow up knowing that they are worthy and have value. That doesn’t always happen, but luckily, we have the ability to wake up one day, and say, “Wait a tick…I’m actually pretty dope!” (maybe a fabulous blog post inspired this revelation, who can say?). In that perfect world, we’d also face our problems with the knowledge that we’re all just figuring this out as we go and doing the best we can using the tools we have; and not try to compare ourselves with others, using information we absolutely do not have. Again, this ideal isn’t always the case, but we can give ourselves a good shake, maybe remind somebody how great they’re doing at this life thing, and keep moving forward.
Today, I am pledging to love my oh-so-imperfect self for being the perfect version of me. And I pledge to forgive myself for all the mistakes I will make tomorrow. And if you’re reading this, I think you’re sparkly and triumphant, and totally up for the challenges tomorrow will bring.
Thanks for taking the time out of your unique, flawed, human life to peek into mine.