Fuck the Small Print Disclaimer (a diatribe on the life less lived)

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“Don’t reserve your best behavior for special occasions. You can’t have two sets of manners, two social codes – one for those you admire and want to impress, another for those whom you consider unimportant. You must be the same to all people.”

~Lillian Eichler Watson

Today, one of my followers on Twitter asked me to “keep the street talk off Twitter.” I told him to fuck off – in a nice way, naturally (seriously: see the tweet here). In a world where so many people are one person in certain situations and a completely different person in others, this week I chose to openly ponder life’s “small print disclaimers.” Those warnings that sneak their way into our lives on the side of coffee cups and tags on the cords of our blow dryers. At the bottom of contracts (or on every page). Carefully crafted words of legalese that are detached yet cautionary, warning us that life could ass rape us at any moment with even the mildest of missteps.

But what about the small print disclaimer that no one ever talks about?

“WARNING: Person enclosed isn’t who they appear to be.”

We’ve all endured the discovery process of learning a colleague/friend/lover isn’t the frothy latte goodness that floated at the top of life’s cup. And contrarily, I’ve had the delight of learning that some people thought to be unsavory on a first look were actually pretty damn nifty. But what if we humans made the whole process a bit less complicated for one another?

I’ve found it to be completely exhausting to be someone I’m not. Hence, I’ve done away with the practice. Following my last divorce (yes, for those who don’t know, The Redhead has been married twice), I came to the glaring realization that I had no bloody idea what in the world I liked. What I wanted. Where I wanted to go.  Did I like Girl Scout Cookies? Do I want to go camping?  Is pudding important to me?

I’d lost ME.

Confident that it’s not such a rare thing to have lost my ME along the road of life, I set about the highly enjoyable process of finding my ME. While a journey I still delightfully enjoy each day, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of getting off the Isle of N’t and embracing the essence of The Redhead.

Throughout life, we’re faced with those who ask us to not be ourselves and to live along side them on the Isle of N’t. It’s the most populous place on Earth, methinks, as everyone there is riddled with the Shouldn’ts and Wouldn’ts and Didn’t and Hadn’ts.

You Shouldn’t … I wish I Hadn’t … If I Didn’t … If I did this, they Wouldn’t …

Many-a-time, we move ourselves to the Isle of N’t and surrender to the games our minds play. Our minds – the most masterful opponents we have in this chess match of life. We talk ourselves into and out of things, rationalize and make excuses – and for what? Because we simply cannot accept that we do/think/like/hate what we actually do.  With a twisted soundtrack of “One of these things is not like the other…” playing in the background, we begin the process of detaching from our MEs.

The womb-like comfort of the Isle of N’t is the ideal environment for ME loss. We’re consistently surrounded by political correctness and propriety, afraid to offend and more afraid of having already done so. Dismissing what we like in favor of what we’re told we should like, abandoning what we would like to do for what we’re told we should be doing, we surrender those pesky thoughts we had about who we are and what we believe because people just don’t think that way. And before we know it, this is who we’ve become:

WARNING: The Redhead enclosed in this body has more thoughts than she’ll let appear. Praise will be disingenuous and scolding is completely artificial. She’ll eat whatever you’re eating and go wherever you’re going because she thinks you like Her only for what she’s let you see, not the REAL Her she’s buried deep inside.  Too afraid to lose anything in her life, she’ll idle along with false friends because bad ones are better than having none at all. She’ll use the one skill she has remaining – rationalization – to refine any situation into one that’s bearable, purely out of fear of tipping over life’s canoe and taking a dip in the River of Life. And she’s probably wearing a padded bra, too.

And this is why I told my follower to get lost on Twitter today.

I moved off the Isle of N’t quite some time ago and have never looked back. My regular readers know that I operate without a filter or censor button and frankly, I adore it. Maybe if you read my droning regularly you do as well and live your life in a similar fashion. Recapturing my ME has been a joyous, tearful, years-long carnival ride and I’ll be the first one to shell out duckets at the ticket booth just so they don’t kick me off the tilt-a-whirl.

The small print disclaimers – I think they’re for the fearful. Those who require direction at every step and who would want chocolate if they got vanilla (and vice versa). They’re the folks who won’t send their food back if it comes out wrong and those who shudder at the thought of saying what they really think.

Face it: we all know that coffee in an insulated cup is HOT. Quit trying to blame someone else for the fact that you’re drinking in your car, hit a pothole and spilled the shit all over your suit, burning yourself in the process.

It’s a fuller life, the one without the small print disclaimer, but I try to never forget there’s a difference between:

being unapologetic about your ME and thinking you never have to apologize.

being blunt and being mean.

loving and needing to be loved.

wanting to take the wheel and drive and going along for the ride.

saying what you mean and talking to hear the sound of your own voice.

At 36, I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve learned the difference between my ass and a hole in the ground … as well as having embraced the differences in the soils I walk on throughout my life. My ass goes in my jeans and the soil – I can pick it up, smell it, sense rain that’s recently fallen, plant things in it, clean it from the bottom of my dogs’ feet and be thankful for the fact that it’s what allows my feet to continue along on the journey of ME.

I said “fuck the small print disclaimer” years ago and will continue to shed those people and things throughout life that try to hush my soul when it speaks and tell me my way isn’t the right one. It’s their loss, really… those people who don’t embrace your ME. Whether an employer, friend, colleague, foe or virtual fan – you can do better for your life and you owe it to yourself to live fully, loudly, and sometimes “inappropriately” in the eyes of others. Get naughty – put peanut butter on your eggs and drop an f-bomb or two at the dinner table. If it’s honest – if it’s your ME speaking – then you’ll feel that womb-like comfort of a content life wash over you, radiating from the inside out.

Or you can just hide on the Isle of N’t. I hear everybody there is reaaaaaaaaaally nice.

 

24 comments
Cherry Woodburn
Cherry Woodburn

Thanks for a reality check. In many ways I'm ME but still spend time on the Isle of Nth. Glad at your age you're already ME and I like ME/You. Hugs sweetie for such a real, provocative post. Cherry

Paddy O'Furniture
Paddy O'Furniture

This is a great post. I have lived this for some time. In fact it has shaped who I am when it comes to dating as well. I don't like dating in the conventional sense because I feel like people are unable to just be themselves. No one likes to find out after dating someone for a while that they have deal breaker traits. The same holds true for people you choose as friends. I recall one ex-friend that I thought was a funny guy, but the friendship was one that took place over the Internet. We met in person and even lived together for a few months and he turned out to be an ultra-conservative, racist who hated women. Needless to say once I moved out that was the last time we ever spoke. I think your attitude is refreshing, and I wish more people were like you.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Why thankya...and I'm glad you stopped by today :)

Sylvia
Sylvia

You are wise to have discovered this earlier in your life than most. Being yourself is the only way to be. It took me a long time to figure it out, and now am happy to say it's the only way I operate. Glad that you are who you are--in a world of dull, forgettable fakes you are a bright spot.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I'm chalking that up to one of the best compliments I've ever received. Hope you don't mind...

uber
uber

Ok. A couple of days have passed and thought I'd make one final check in. 2 misconceptions: I'm not 'flinging poo'. Actually if you re-read my posts I not once get anywhere near that. I'm just making suggestions and observations. If you're seeing them as 'attacks of poo' then you are already placing a tone to my posts that aren't there...which makes me think you need to change the way you 'read' or wonder why your initial response to any type of critical observation is to become so defensive (or see it as a 'poo attack') Second: Funny how you assumed I am a 'man' behind a mask....never did I say I was male. Yet another interesting observation on your judgmental ways.... Have a good, tall, cold one and relax tonight! Glad I was able to help you make this post more interesting via the comments (as per other commenter's observations of course.)

The Redhead
The Redhead

@uber - "Man behind the mask" is a colloquialism. Surely you're not so dense as to misunderstand that? And if I were truly the judgmental, misguided little girl you make me out to be, I wouldn't continue to publish your comments. I'd bury them, delete them, mark them as spam. Male/female - whatever. And my readers' comments always make my posts more interesting - without fail. If there were no dialogue, as I said - I'd just be a crazy lady with a keyboard. You're welcome here anytime, whether you agree or want to "fling poo." I fling poo on a regular basis even at those with whom I agree. Nothing like a lively discussion to make life's medicine go down, eh? You're my favorite little monkey to-date. And though you're posting from Canada, in no way do I think you're an "Eh Hole." Cheers!

MindyMom
MindyMom

Always a joy when the comments turn into a post of their own. Damn - you are GOOD with your responses. I want lessons. And no, that is not "licking" but genuine - I've had some nasty anon comments in the past and wish I had the "amiable banter, becoming the disagreeable sniping! The syrupy sweet, giving way to the acrid bitterness!" you do, as Kevin so elequently put it.

The Redhead
The Redhead

@MindyMom Thanks for stopping by! Comments are the reason we blog, no? Otherwise, we're just crazy ladies with keyboards! However, there will always be those readers that want to debate and I'm totally down with that. What I'm NOT down with is anonymous fly-bys flinging poo. There's something gorgeous in the revelation of differing opinions yet something not quite honest in the verbal jouster who wants to remain "the man behind the mask." We don't blog to be licked, LIKED or otherwise - we blog to DIALOGUE. Some people, though...there's just no conversing with them. Now apparently I'm a bit short on my licking. I'm trotting off to find a candidate NOW! ;-) Signed, Syrupy Sweet Turned Acrid :P

Kevin
Kevin

Well, the article was good, but I liked the comments even better. The amiable banter, becoming the disagreeable sniping! The syrupy sweet, giving way to the acrid bitterness! OK, I exaggerate, but it was great fun! And the knicker revelation was a nice bonus...

The Redhead
The Redhead

@kevin :-P nanner-nanner. Thanks for stopping by & glad you enjoyed the knickers thing...er...yeah. Glad.

uber
uber

Fair enough. I once knew somebody that used the word 'bitch' the same way. It was pretty funny! Didn't mean to insinuate you needed any 'licking'. I'm just passing through here (your site referred by somebody I know) and a quick observation about commenters on your site had me thinking it was just one big 'love in'. Then again, I only quickly looked at a few posts/comments and all of the comments on this one entry. Sorry to get your knickers in a knot about changing one of your precious lines. Just thought I'd add another view to the conversation. Why the defensiveness to conversation and altering viewpoints? As to my comment, I'll try to explain better (funny, I gave up clarity for lent!). You state that "human filters dictated by the hangups of others" are the kind you are against. But if you truly believe that no one MAKES you do anything, than these types of filters would not/should not ever exist. So if you agree that no one ever MAKES you do anything, then you should have never had a problem with others making you be a certain way. Which leads to the question...why did you change yourself? Not to please others (as others can't MAKE you do anything), but maybe to satisfy something within you? As for my anonymity...goes along your whole post. I'm choosing not to bring you into my world as I'm only here for a short-time and would rather state what I think than become 'friends'.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Christ on a cracker. Here endeth the lesson. There's no defensiveness about differing viewpoints - but it's quite presumptuous to want to change a writer's words when you're on an anonymous "fly by." Thanks for stopping by. I think. And for the record, I don't wear knickers and am vehemently opposed to all knots not used for shoestrings, rock climbing and glacier travel.

uber
uber

No need to apologize for being repetitive. Not sure the need to use 'fucking' in the apology was done light heartedly or trying to be 'cool' either. But 'meh' to all that anyways. Definitely...human filters should not be dictated by others. But don't you contradict yourself in two sentences? "But no one in life MAKES you do anything. And yes, the Human Filter is an important part of life on a daily basis - making it your OWN filter and not one dictated by the hangups of others…now THAT’S a life achievement" Stating that no one MAKES you do anything and then proclaiming that filters dictated by others is wrong? How can you say both if you believe in point #1 (no one MAKES you do anything)? I'd like to change your last sentence in your response to my earlier post...you state "Inspiration is the stuff that dreams are made of." I'd like to change it to: "Imperfection is what the stuff of dreams are made of." btw: Does it bother you that I'm the only commenter challenging you on some of your thoughts while all the others perform 'blog comment cunnilingus' on you?

The Redhead
The Redhead

@ uber I use the word "fuck" like commas and periods. Take it as you will. I don't "try" to be anything and certainly I'm not the "cool kid" on the block. Frankly, I enjoy the dialogue. If people agree and like my posts and leave comments to that effect, faboo. If I get a bunch of fruit thrown at me, it won't change the fact I've spoken my mind. I don't require or request any "licking" when it comes to the entries here. If you'd like to change lines in my blog, write them in your own blog. This blog is for my thoughts, my words and those of my readers (like you). So I'll say "Inspiration." You can say "Imperfection" on your own blog. K? Regarding the point about your perceived contradiction of mine (MAKES vs. filters) - I'm really not that bright. You're going to have to explain yourself a bit more clearly. See, I was smart in high school. I gave it up for Lent this year. And, if you would, your URL is invalid. Funny you find the desire to engage in banter and hide behind your own anonymous wall.

Hirvimaki
Hirvimaki

That. Was. Spectacular. I agree 100%. "Seeking Approval" is one of the most common and deadliest of human afflictions. Bravo, Red. Once again! Keep 'em coming!

Rick
Rick

I really like what you have to say, it speaks to a truth I've learned the hard way. "To thine own self be true". However, being ME, the one I want (which isn't always clear), is rarely as easy as 1,2,3. We're creatures of habit, social habit, and doing whatever is necessary to achieve social intercourse is learned from day one. The question is, "how do I be me without being some caricature of me?" Its not easy to toss aside the chains of others perceptions and my own faulty ones. I fully expect to spend the rest of my life looking for "just" me. But, that is probably the sentiment I appreciate most, "I set about the highly enjoyable process of finding my ME... a journey I still delightfully enjoy each day". Yep, the journey of self-discovery is the most exciting one any of us can take (in my not so humble opinion). Coincidentally, I had a very similar conversation yesterday with someone who struggles with it. Ironically, you being you, and me being me takes practice. Practicing to be myself; odd if you say it out loud. Okay, I'll STFU. It would have been interesting to have this conversation over coffee. Joyous journeys-

Nielle
Nielle

I really admire you. Having been raised by a VERY conservative christian single parent, I constantly find I'm censoring myself, altering myself to fit the people I seem to want to please - and I FUCKING HATE that. Trying to get off that Isle.... you rock.

uber
uber

I agree with many points you make in this latest entry. I always remember something a friend once said. "Nobody MAKES you do anything." I think that's the gist of what you're saying in this post. That you lost yourself. Somebody didn't MAKE you lose yourself. At least that's what i think you're saying (i skimmed through a few paragraphs as it got a bit repetitive). That being said, there is (and definitely should be) a difference between yelling "FUCK!" on the playing field or when slipping off a hold at the crag that you know you should have had...and not yelling "FUCK" when a co-worker/boss/etc. does something that totally pisses you off. It's called "the Human Filter". It's what separates humans from arrogant assholes that think they are the center of the universe. So i agree that we should be who we are...there is also common courtesy of not being crude in areas where it's just plain rude to be that way. Otherwise we dwindle our world down to kids swearing at the age of 3 and seniors spitting in your face for listening to loud music. That is unless polite is part of "you". Which i think we all are except for the 'totally cool' people that are in fact hiding insecurities....

The Redhead
The Redhead

@uber So fucking sorry for getting repetitive, kiddo. People occasionally repeat themselves - I'm one of them. Whoopsie! But no one in life MAKES you do anything. And yes, the Human Filter is an important part of life on a daily basis - making it your OWN filter and not one dictated by the hangups of others...now THAT'S a life achievement :) And for the record - I don't personally think anyone is so cool that insecurities don't shine through somehow. They're the quirks, the nuances...what make us human. Perfection is airbrushed on the cover of a magazine. Inspiration is the stuff that dreams are made of.

MindyMom
MindyMom

Love this post. I'm not sure I ever lived on the Isle of N't, except for during my twelve year marriage. Obvioulsy I didn't belong there but that is just a small part of why my marriage ended. I speek my mind and tell it like it is and appreciate others who do the same. There is a BIG difference between being blunt and being mean yet so many people don't get that. I no longer waste time with small talk or "aquaintances". My black book is a lot smaller now but the quality of people in it is much better.

Eva Snijders
Eva Snijders

Brilliant post, Redheaded Fury! Please keep sending those postcards from your journey. Ah, that list comes in handy, copied and pasted to serve as a reminder. To me and to fellow travelers. Love from Barcelona.

Chris
Chris

Excellent fuckin' post, RW. I'm booking my cruise off the Isle right now....

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