A while ago, I decided I wasn’t going to censor myself anymore.
For my early 20’s I spent a lot of time trying to be perfect. I wanted to be the perfect employee, friend, girlfriend, daughter, writer, singer, and renaissance woman. What ended up happening is that I ended up being pretty good at a couple of those things (employee and friend) and really shitty at the rest. My relationship with my family was stunted; my writing was lackluster and void of life; my singing was painful; and my many skills were rarely practiced. I tried so hard to be someone I’m not that I ended up being only a fraction of myself.
The best example of this is how I used to act around my family. Because I was an angtsy and angry teenager/early-20-something, I would begrudgingly put in the obligatory time with them like weekly dinners and holidays but I would never feel like I was truly connected with any of them. I was always censoring myself. I wouldn’t talk to them the same way I talked to my friends; I talked to them as I would talk to a church pastor. I hid parts of my life from them out of fear of their judgment and by doing so I couldn’t find a way to bond with any of my family.
It wasn’t until I adopted a “love me as I am” view of life that I began to truly enjoy time spent with my family. Now I’ll tell them about my adventures and share my opinions. I’m not afraid to shock them and I’m not afraid they’ll judge me. I’m sure they do judge, but because I’m unapologetic about my lifestyle and am (mostly) supporting myself in a decent life, I know that they don’t hold any of those judgments against me. Now, the times I spend with my family are some of my most-cherished.
The people who are meant to love you will love you for who you are, not for who you pretend to be – I think I finally understand this.
I’ve also stopped apologizing for my emotions. While I (typically) always try to be rational and logical, I’ve stopped trying to hide the less rational or logical parts of myself.
This is not to say that I now routinely go around screaming at people when they’re rude to me or curling up into a ball and crying when they’re cruel to me. Now, when I have an intense emotion, I share it – but in a calm and rational way. Whereas the Annie Jay of the past would have either completely hidden the feelings and shied meekly away from whatever was causing the reaction or had a melodramatic breakdown for the entire world to see, the Annie Jay of today presents her feelings as facts to be weighed for consideration by other people.
Wow I feel like a robot even typing the last part of that sentence, but I swear, it’s more freeing than it sounds. Let me give you an example -
Instead of tearfully spitting out: I FUCKING HATE YOU, YOU GIANT DOUCHE CANOE!
Now, I take a deep breath (or 500 deep breaths depending on the circumstance) and say: I understand that you and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. Because of that, I have a hard time relating to you without my feelings getting hurt. What can we do to get through this together?
It doesn’t always work (because – hey, I’m human) but I try over and over again to be honest about my feelings without alienating the people I’m trying to share them with. I try to look at emotions as opportunities to experience personal growth.
I especially try not to hide my positive feelings from people. Sometimes I feel like positive feelings are hidden away more often than negative ones. Perhaps this is because we’ve been taught by society not to boast and to be self-depricating instead of gracious. Praise is seldom shared or accepted wholly. I try very hard to spread the love instead of bogarting it.
If I love you, I will tell you I love you. If you did something I liked, I will tell you that you did. If I’m proud of you, I will tell you I am. If I’m happy for your success, I will tell you I am (this one is hard when I feel that evil bitch “jealousy” sneak up on me, but even in those instances, I want my friends/family to know I’m happy for their success). There is enough negativity bringing down the people in my life, I always want to be something to bring them back up.
So how about you? Are you still trying to be someone you think you ought to be instead of just trying to be the best YOU you can be? Or do you have any tips that will help other people to be the best them they can be? I’d love to hear from you.
PS: Because you're all awesome, I'm guessing you've seen Joss Whedon's beautiful (but short-lived as always...) creation Dollhouse which is where my title comes from. If you haven't seen it - check it out!