In my life and at this time I think I’ve just come to the conclusion that – if I spend even a fraction of my time trying to fit into my own perception of other peoples ideals or expectations I’m going to be miserable for the rest of my life. And to clarify – no I didn’t just realize this, I’ve known it for a while but self sabotage is a bitch and I’m inherently a glutton for punishment. ANYWAY.
Something I did just learn however, (in the past couple years) is that my idea of what everyone else sees me as and thinks of me is entirely in my own head. And that all the time I spend worrying about what everybody else thinks, not only is it not true but I can’t control it – so why do I or should I, let it drive me and my intentions? So in other words, I finally realized that since middle school, hs, whatever – I got really good at mass producing my own special brand of personal hell cocktail – and odds are, if you’re reading this, and based on the clearly click bait title, you probably have too.
So let’s unpack that a bit.
As a species, like any other, our primary instinct is survival, but because we don’t have to hunt sabertooth’s, and many of us (not nearly enough though) are fortunate enough not to have to second guess the basics of food, shelter, water – survival today looks a lot less like man vs wild and a lot more like theatrical interpretations of high school.
I mean in the grand scheme of things this isn’t our fault…? But it kind of is…? I mean, it should be fairly obvious that as sentient beings you and I, being the only one who informs our own reality, should have the most complete picture of who we are. And yes, technically speaking, we have been conditioned by society to believe that everyone around us by some divine grace must have more of a clue of who we are because OBVIOUSLY sally silverstien in Spokane Washington gets more likes on her artisanal breakfast pictures than we do and thus, logically, she has all the answers to life, the universe and everything. And I mean – with the caption “you are what you eat” who can deny her that prestigious title.
Let’s talk consumption and expectation
Have you ever taken a step back to think about all the bad things you put/allow in your body?
And no Stacy l’m not talking about carbs, or the vaccine (this is a trick statement if you’re not vaccinated, go get vaccinated!) or even that lax bro “team captain” you slept with your sophomore year of college – I mean information, data, or even the way you talk to and about yourself in your head.
I mean, think about it, what’s one of, if not the first thing you do when you wake up? If I were a gamblin man I’d say you roll over and touch your phone. And if it’s to turn off your alarm or check your notifications or whatever – depending on what stage of life you’re in, this could be the first thing you do. And I’m not condemning it – but if it is true, the very first thing you consume in the morning isn’t breakfast. It’s information. And then depending on your expectations, that information can determine how you think the rest of your day will go.
For example – maybe you posted something the night before so you’ll be expecting some notifications. Maybe you sent out an email to your boss and you’re waiting on a response. Or maybe the first thing you check isn’t your phone but your family so you lean over to kiss your significant other and depending on the relationship maybe you expect them to react a certain way. And so given these examples the first thing we consume is information and the first thing we accomplish or desire is a sense of validation. And after a while that validation – that confirmation of our value based on someone else’s expedient reactions becomes a sort of drug. So if we don’t get it there’s a nearly immediate shift in our mood because – if they didn’t react positively… then I must have done something wrong.
It’s all about visibility
At any given point in our life, most of us can pinpoint times where we felt seen and when we felt invisible – and funnily enough sometimes it’s the times that we most want to be seen that we feel invisible, and the times we wish we were invisible that people see us the most. But still we chase this idea that being at the for-front (the center of someone else’s universe) is the thing that gives us value – that getting 100 likes or a million views is how we can quantify success.
In other words, we just want to matter. But the problem with social media is that we’re being raised on the idea that the amount we matter to our peers often correlates to a metric, so if we don’t meet the standard or the milestone, if we don’t “get verified” then all our work wasn’t worth it. So then we throw ourselves into a cycle of doing things that don’t align with who we are solely because other people are getting attention by doing it and so we think that putting ourselves into a box or making ourselves more digestible to others will fill that hole within us.
But it doesn’t work that way.
So how does it work? How do I get “verified”
I mean the obvious answer is that it starts outside of our usual concept of being verified or validated because let’s get one thing straight – I don’t need your permission to be who I am now just because I’m not the person you wanted/expected me to be back then. Read that again. Now look away from the mirror.
See the central theme and the core issue of all of this isn’t that other people don’t accept us. It’s that we accept ourselves so little and so infrequently that we need other people to fill in the blanks. And not only is it not their job, but they just happen to be struggling with the same damn thing! So they can’t give us what we need until they get it themselves. It’s kind of a paradox if you think about it – because then privilege kicks in because we get this warped idea that he’s getting it but I’m not and she has enough so there isn’t any left for me and while we’re so busy condemning one another and not realizing or being able to admit that we’re just scared of falling short of who we thought we wanted or needed to be.
When in reality, what we could be if we stop conforming to these boxes is far greater.