Saturday, June 16, 2012
For the last few months I feel as though I've been getting smacked over and over again with the idea that essentially, you should be true to yourself. BE YOURSELF - how incredibly obvious, simple, impossible, and easy to forget to do all at the same time.
Because I'm not always "myself". Quite often, I'm working very hard to be the person I think I should be. I'm working hard to be the person I think others will approve of. I'm working hard at working hard.
Maybe it's a process of maturing, but I'm starting to stop and ask myself: "is the whole point of being alive really to earn the approval of others?", or more pointedly "at what point do I just enjoy my life and stop trying to prove to my father that I'm worthy of his approval?" My father hasn't said a word about me - positive or negative - since I was 22 years old (except to make joking comments to my husband about how "scary" I am). He may still be thinking all the things that I still remember as painful and difficult, or he may not think about me at all (most likely - I'm distant enough not to affect his life much at all, so why would he think of me very often?).
But the point is, it doesn't matter to me (or it shouldn't matter to me) what he thinks of me. The approval or disapproval of my father is completely irrelevant to my life at this point, and I'm old enough that continuing to try and be the kind of girl/woman that he would love is a waste of my own one precious life. Somehow this post has veered into more Daddy Issues baggage than I meant it to - but hey, it's Father's Day tomorrow.
Anyway, back to Being Myself. Inspiration comes from many sources, and a month ago I was reading an otherwise uninspiring magazine and there was this ad (I think for Birkenstocks, but I've searched online and can't find this ad again) that said "Be Yourself By Doing What You Love". And, in one of those moments of a lightening bolt to the head that says "Duh!", I suddenly thought "that's how I can be true to myself, by just trusting that feeling that I'm loving what I'm doing for its own sake!".
It may be obvious to you, but to me this was a revelation. In much the same way that a high school kid may pick an extracurricular activity because it will look good on their college applications, I sometimes pick things to do with my time because I imagine it will earn the approval of someone else. Anyone else, actually, as I have a whole chorus of possible Judges that I can bring up in my imagination and then apply their critical eyes to myself and be found to be wanting.
But if I try to do something just because I Love It, because it brings me pleasure, and not for any other reason, the cumulative effect of time spent in that fashion would be that I would more uniquely Be Sara, and not some strange puppet being pulled by strings that make no sense and that no one else even sees.
The first application of this principle has been that I'm reading more. I love to read - just for its own sake - and I love new ideas. I mostly read non-fiction, because that happens to be what I love the most, but I also like fiction as well and I even like (gasp!) a trashy escapist romance novel every now and then. I have no master plan for my reading, and I do have to stop desperately cleaning and working and trying to always be productive in order to give myself the time to read. I also have to tear myself away from the easier time-sucks of facebook and television shows (which are more hypnotic but I can't honestly say that I "love"), to give myself the time to read.
I want to Be Sara. I want to Do What I Love. I only get to do this once, after all, so why waste the opportunity?