Friday, January 16, 2015

Big Fat Fake


I admonished a student yesterday for being okay with okay. This is sort of my thing. I preach constantly to seek a life of exclamation marks. We get one go around. There IS no going backward. There IS no rewind. There IS no Your Life, the Sequel. Why settle for existing when you have the ability to LIVE? I preach this. I teach it.

And, yet.

I could just as easily have been that student. I have settled in my life. I have been okay with okay. I have looked to others to supply the happiness, the fulfillment, which I should have been supplying myself.

I got a little negative feedback the other day. It had my knickers in a knot. The feedback was on my teaching, something in which I take great pride. Understand that the learning process is not something I half-ass EVER. To make matters worse, the feedback was behind my back and from another instructor. And suddenly someone else’s opinion of me and my teaching became more important than my opinion of me and my teaching. It became more important than the loads of positive feedback I have received over the years from my students. It became the ONLY opinion.

This is the thing.

I am great at taking stage. Make-up, lights, showtime. Put up the smile. Throw out the confidence. Emanate warmth, sincerity, positive energy to spare.

I am great at taking stage.

When I step down, however, when the lights go out, I always feel a bit like the wizard in the land of Oz. This giant persona to the rest of the world who in reality is nothing more than one who struggles with feelings of insecurity, lack of worthiness, and a fear of exposing her true self. I am not smart enough. This was my first reaction to the negative words. I am not smart enough to do this job.

You know what happens when we go THERE, right? It turns into an I-Am-Not-fest. “I am not good enough,” “I am not pretty enough,” “My boobs are too small, my butt too big, my face too plain, my hair too wild.” Everything is wrong. Nothing is right. No one likes me. Why, indeed, should they? I talk too much; interrupt even more. Suddenly I see everything I love about myself as something no one should.

And so I look to others to build me up, to prove that I am, indeed, capable and worthy and loved.

But here’s the thing. I cannot, for the life of me, show them who I am, share with them my full self. Rarely have I been able to do that. How would I, anyway, when I am not certain I have shown myself?

Why am I so afraid to just be me? Why am I so afraid to feel and to be real, so afraid to own my responsibility for my own happiness? Why is some random instructor’s opinion of me more important than my opinion of myself?

On a related note, I had a situation in my life that brought me great joy. I began to live in exclamation marks. I had not known that I wasn’t. This friendship opened my eyes to the okay-ness for which I had settled. At that point, the friendship came to an end. I may have been out of sorts. I may have thrown a tantrum or two. I wanted the friendship back. I wanted the happy that I had felt. I wanted it. I was upset at this friend for taking it away.

I groveled. A good long while, I groveled.

And, then, with the help of a very patient family member, an insane amount of time spent writing, and more than a few bottles of wine, I came to the point where I realized that this friend wasn’t the CAUSE of my happiness but had merely shown me how that happiness could FEEL. If I would stop settling for good enough, if I would allow into my life positive feedback, an honest look at myself, and a willingness to be vulnerable, open and real, I could once again find my happy. I could create it MYSELF. This is not my usual M.O.

I am striving this year to move beyond okay, to move beyond looking to others to verify my worthiness, to provide my happy. I am striving to insert more exclamation marks into my days.

I think for once in my life, I’ll take off the make-up, step down from the stage. I am who I am. That is not always the strong, together, pretty picture you see when you look at me. I know now, though, that in my realness, be it pretty or not, I am worthy, I am good, I am loved. And THAT, my friend, is contingent on no one and nothing. THAT is a given.

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