“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.