It’s been a minute.
I apologize for the very small amount (none) of posts for the month of February, but lately I’ve been feeling a bit like an onion. Layers of my being have been torn off, and I have been dealing with the frosty breeze of truth against my new and tender skin. It sounds like a pretty lame excuse, but it took a lot of out of me. I would sit down to write and instead of the words I desperately needed to bleed, all that my imagination could give me were dancing hams.
I’ve talked a ton about self-esteem and the importance of identity, but life has a funny way of making you live up to the words that you say, and that’s what this month has been about. I sat down one day and tried to come up with a list of my attributes, and for reasons I still don’t understand, I couldn’t come up with any. When I finally stirred up one or two I could be sure of, my mind would always stop me before I wrote them in ink. It seemed so permanent, so final as if it were being carved into my skin where I would never be able to cover it. My mind would override my hands with doubt and I would be less convinced that I had any attributes to speak of. That page is still very much blank.
I’ve had the time to mull it over, and I have come to the conclusion that my identity, my core being is not at all what I thought it was. For an extensive period of time now, my soul has been neatly wrapped in a tight and unforgiving plastic. I used to assume that this was the fault of other people, but I can’t go on believing that, because it wouldn’t be the truth, would it? No, this plastic is so tightly wound that it would have taken total cooperation from my soul for it to be possible. This is how I know that the culprit is and has always been me.
When Eleanor Roosevelt said “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent,” she was bang-fucking-on. People will lie to you all day long. They will tell you that you don’t have the guts, the balls or the ovaries to do what it takes. They will tell you that you don’t deserve it, so you shouldn’t want it, shouldn’t chase it. They will tell you that your best will never be enough. Sounds daunting, right? I thought so, too. If I’m truthful, I didn’t ever think I’d get ahead of those people and their chatter, and so I stayed amongst them for fear of the walk of shame, the fear of failure, the fear of coming up empty.
Here’s the catch:
People will lie to you all day long. They’ll tell you that George Michael was in NKOTB. They’ll tell you that you won’t hurt yourself jumping off of a balcony. They’ll tell you that kale chips taste just like the real thing. If you went about your life blindly believing these things, where would you be? Well, you could be in a full body cast, eating a single kale chip before you violently spit it out, watching a television special on WHAM. And you will realize that they were wrong, they were wrong about everything. After that you will be slapped with the harsh reality that trusting this information lies with you and you alone. You realize that it was your mistake, and that’s worse.
The lies start as soon as we are able to communicate, when we absorb the actions, the words, the personalities of other people in order to develop our own. We don’t even see the bars of the prison we’re in until we realize that there is more on the other side, until we understand that success, beauty and skill is all relative. The prison is all of the misguided notions we carry about ourselves, the doubt that crushes our ambition and the mirror that makes us repulsed by our own reflection. The upside is that this prison is unlocked, should we make the choice to walk towards freedom.
I’ve realized that I have been walking around under the weight of lost hope and the barriers that keep me from progress, and it’s not anybody’s fault. The blame is on me for letting the words of other people under my skin instead of the burn of desire and the hunger to grab hold of it. What’s troubling is that I still feel fear for letting the lost hope, the barriers float away like a leaf in the midst of an autumn gust. I feel fear because I have no idea who I am without those familiar footholds to stand in. If I let go of all that is weighing me down, I might be lifted, I might be happy. It’s strange and funny that I fear greatness and success over mediocrity, but I think this is true for most people.
So here I am, peeled down to my core, stripped naked. It feels tragically hopeless and liberating all at once. However, I am thinking of myself like the onion. I am bare, but this is the nourishment that I have to offer. This is the flavour I bring to the lives of other people. This is my shot to contribute something unique to the world. Though there will always be people who wrinkle their nose at me, there are plenty who are willing to spread me around their lives and become entangled in mine.
Bitter and beautiful; that’s how I like it.
PS. I played “Careless Whisper” throughout the entire duration of this post.