Two years ago, I was smiling on the outside but depressed and stressed on the inside. Today, I couldn't contain my happiness if I wanted to.
My son asked me one day in the most serious tone, just after he requested I stop ‘being myself’ before we walked into a public kid setting.. “Momma don’t you ever get worried that everyone is going to laugh at you and make fun of you for being so weird.”
He was 4. My baby was 4 years old, and he could already tell that the majority of humans hold themselves back in life. He could tell that people weren't their truest selves, because they are too focused and concerned about what others will think of them...
Had he been an adult, I would have likely answered with a laugh and a hard no. But he’s my baby, and he was 4!!!
So I had to think for a second before I responded and here are my thoughts following our conversation..
We can all say, ‘I don’t care what people think about me’ , but let’s be honest... How many times in life have you toned yourself down? Or lost yourself in a room filled with people?
I’m not talking to the people who use ‘I don’t care what other people think’ as an excuse to be a jerk... I’m talking about when we limit ourselves from being 100% authentic and, therefore, 100% happy with who we are.
Have you ever really wanted to break into a weird song and dance number but stopped yourself because others would be weirded out? (Maybe that’s just me? I’m weird, but lucky for me after 30 years, I’m finally comfortable owning it).
What about this... have you ever gone to things you didn’t want to go to, because that’s what you should do? Smiled when you didn’t want to because it was expected? Held your tongue when you really wanted to speak, because you were worried about what others would think or say back? Avoided a friend when around certain individuals because you were worried what the others would think of them? And the list goes on... We all do it all the time in a variety of ways, from small little shields to full fledged personality flops...
Holding Yourself Back
I held myself back from being my true self for years.. and occasionally I’ll catch myself still holding back in small ways or modifying my personality a bit when I’m around certain people for too long. I catch myself not speaking up when I wish I would...
Luckily for me though, those moments are now few and far between. I’ve FINALLY learned to accept and embrace myself. I am weird, but I am happy. And I own that.
Dancing terribly to absolutely no music is one of my favorite things. I also like dancing terribly to actual music playing... I just love to sing and dance; it makes me smile. I no longer care who sees my less-than-cool moves or hears my unimpressive voice...
Random accents and voices come out of my mouth without any rhyme or reason. I use an array of unconventional vocabulary as often as possible. I really like to talk to (and often times hug) strangers. I have a weird obsession with silly string; I keep stock at home, just in case. Regardless of how old I get, I call my parents ‘Daddy and Momma’, and I see or talk to my parents and sister (Saster) pretty much every single day.
I compliment people as often as possible. I love vocalizing things that I like, and I love to see people smile. My tiny humans are my best friends, and regardless of the location or audience, I love to be super silly and super weird with them as often as possible. The laughter it brings us all brightens my life.
I call people random dorky nicknames pretty routinely. I am terrible with direction which is not a great combination with my mediocre driving skills.. When you think to yourself ‘who is this idiot and how did they get a license’, there is a strong possibility that it’s me... And when I get cussed I typically do an awkward mouthing of ‘sorry, that was probably my bad’ as I do a ‘whoopsies face’ and over exaggerate my wave, finished with a smile of course.
I love a lot of things and get overly excited when I see them- sunshine, rainbows, rain, flowers, squirrels, silly memes/gifs... Obviously, it really doesn’t take much to get me excited these days.
I photograph EVERYthing. I average probably 20 pictures a day. That’s a standard day day; we’re not even talking a special occasion. I just love this planet and the people in it. I want to document as much of it I possibly can.
Along with the obsessive photography, I pretty consistently over-post to social media. I assume it probably annoys people, but if what I’m posting makes me smile, there’s a chance it could make someone else smile - and so I post.
I love flowers but hate purses. I wear a flower backpack which I call an adventure-pack. It gets commented on frequently (some positively, mostly people poking fun). I freaking love it.
At 30, I still wear super hero themed socks daily. I rarely cry from anger or sorrow, but I happy cry as often as possible... If no one is there to witness it in person, I feel compelled to contact as many people as I can to fill them in.. I’m overly kind to people who don’t always deserve it, regardless of how many times others tell me to not be so nice. I love too hard and too . I smile too much and laugh too loud.
This is who I am. The good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing, the weird... This is me. This is who I’ve worked to be. These are the things that make me love life. These are the things that make me happy with who and where I am. And I'm growing every day from here.
Thankfully, I have learned over the last couple of years how incredible it feels to put down the shield and accept who I am in entirety. No holds barred. There is nothing that compares to being true to yourself at all times, regardless of where you are or who you are with.
Knowing who I am and who I want to continue to grow to be.. Believing in myself and focusing on what makes me breathtakingly happy allows me the freedom to not have to overthink my actions. I don’t have to worry about what others will think or say. I just get to be. Let me just say, it has been a pretty incredible experience.
Variety = Happiness
Here’s the thing! I’m not asking you to all be weird little glitter filled balls of sunshine. I mean, don’t get me wrong.. I’m freaking awesome with all of my sunshine and sparkle, but I can even annoy myself at times. A world filled with hippy dippy, free spirit, sunshine chasers would be overwhelming to say the least.
What I am asking, is that we all try to be true to ourselves. Even more than that, I’m asking we practice it in front of tiny humans so that we can guide them and give them the freedom and support to be whoever they want to be and to do whatever brings them joy - so long as they're not harming ourselves or another human in the process. Help them be comfortable enough with themselves to be themselves at all times, whether alone, with loved ones, with strangers, or out in public with a blend of a million new and familiar faces.
The world needs variety so that we can all level one another out for a perfect blend. I love sunshine and sparkle and dreaming too big, I love when optimists and dreamers lift the spirits of those around them. But sometimes life can’t be all sunshine and unicorns, sometimes us optimists need the realists and the pessimists to pull us back down to earth and to help us deal with things that are out of control.
We need talkers and doers for listeners and observers to feed off. We need quiet people and loud people. We need brainiacs and athletes. We need folks who thrive in an office just a much as we need folks who thrive when their hands are dirty. We need variety.
Our differences are important. We need to own them. I sincerely believe we were each placed here with a purpose, and I can guarantee you that purpose was not intended to be toned down or hid.
Be weird. Be boring. Be chipper. Be thought provoking. Be feminine. Be masculine. Be the center of attention. Be an observer sitting silently in the corner. Be a lover. Be a loner. Whatever you are when no one is watching, whatever makes you feel that spark of ‘you’ when you’re in your comfort zone... BE THAT. DO THAT.
Regardless of where you are or who you’re with. Just be you and expect the same out of those around you. Quit conforming or toning yourself down to fit in.
Learn to love all that is you. Learn to feel comfortable participating in and celebrating the things that make your life worth living. Do the things that bring you joy, without hesitation and as often as possible.... unapologetically.
People are going to laugh, stare, judge and criticize. Let them. Some people are addicted to negativity; some people are never going to be comfortable enough with themselves to be original. Those people are going to laugh, stare, judge, and criticize regardless of what you do. You are never going to satisfy those types of humans. You’re wasting your time and letting yourself down every second you spend trying. So instead, why not just let them watch you be happy being YOU. Who knows, maybe they need a dose of that spirit themselves.
I can promise you this, while some folks might not support all that is ‘you’, most will. Even better, the right ones will. You being genuinely true to you and getting more out of life because of it not only allows you to live a better life, it inspires others to do the same.
So if someone laughs at you or looks at you funny and judges you for being you and for being happy... screw them.
You don’t ever get to steal someone else’s happy, and don’t you ever let someone else steal yours.
What about you?!
© 2019 Jessy Lee