Vision Quest, Day 4
One of the biggest hurdles ahead of me during this pilgrimage is learning to live my life for myself. Many times, I have trouble finding the me that’s buried in the world of expectations. So, the question for today, How do I stop worrying about what others want from me?
I know this is a personal journey, but I hope my readers can learn a little about themselves in my lessons.
Deal with it. Nothing I can do or say can change what other people, with their own issues and preconceptions, bring to the game.
I still remember that night in high school when I sang a Christmas solo. Well, sang is not the right word. No one ever told me what they thought about my performance. I didn’t ask. I felt that people weren’t paying attention, so I belted “Oh, Holy Night” as if the Apocalypse were just outside the school doors.
I wanted to make sure I was heard. Well, I was heard. The thing is, I tried to force the audience to hear me and think a particular way about me. Yeah. That didn’t work. I have no idea why I thought they weren’t listening. I don’t even know why I thought belting out a beautiful song would make a difference, but, damn it, I wanted them to hear me!
The truth is, we can’t make people hear or think a specific way. Humans have this thing called Free Will, and there’s nothing anyone can do or say to make them think Miley Cyrus is either talented or a waste of energy. They will think what they want, and my opinion matters a rat’s ass to them.
For my own sake, I need to accept that I have NO CONTROL over other people!
Hakuna Matata. That’s one of the lessons I have to learn this summer for my healing to begin. As Timon and Pumbaa told Simba: No worries. Live your life and be happy. Leave the worrying to someone else because, really, worrying never changes anything. The outcome is already set.
Sometimes I have found myself stalking specific Facebook friends to see if they read my messages or even if they’re online. It is the 80’s high school equivalent of parking across the street a couple of houses down from that one kid you REALLY wanted to talk to so that you could suddenly appear and force a conversation.
What’s funny is that I was more authentic in high school than I am now. If I needed a date for prom, instead of dropping hints and waiting to be asked, I picked up the phone and invited the college boy I knew I wanted to share my clean-cut prom night with – Sikma! He accepted and I had a blast. And if I wanted to talk to that guy I had that ultimate crush on, I called him. Like that one Christmas morning my senior year …. Okay, here goes, high school friends, my ultimate crush was on Fernando Paz. I was forever stuck in the friend zone when it came to No. 69 on the football team. And, guess what? I don’t care if anyone knows because, really, I’m not in high school anymore!
The truth is, when that Facebook friend reacts to my message, I will know. Obsessing about it only makes my day bitter and long. So, don’t worry about it. Bad news travels faster than good news, anyhow.
Live for today. What if I were to die tomorrow. Would I regret not having that last ice cream cone or not seeing that last amazing Warped Tour concert with my son? Maybe, but maybe not. If I concentrate on what I really want, maybe the ice cream cone won’t matter. Maybe what matters is sitting in a summer thunderstorm in the safety of the tent I put up myself with the puppy who loves me more than life. (And I think that concert with my son would definitely matter to me!)
What I’m learning to accept is one very important lesson – if given the opportunity to break rules that hurt no one, and no one’s looking, don’t obsess. Just enjoy. Along the same lines, if you make a mistake that ends up hurting people, don’t obsess. Apologize sincerely and move on. Nothing is more annoying that someone who continues to apologize for a mistake. (I know because I’ve been there!) It makes people wonder if the original apology was sincere.
Love myself and speak my truth. It’s hard to forget the lies you’ve made when you only speak and live the truth. Similarly, it’s easy to remember who you have presented yourself to be for others when you are always true to yourself. Of course, we don’t need to be rude to those who don’t agree. I’m still learning that. This year, I tried to be polite when telling others about why I disagreed with them. I ended up inadvertently making enemies. I regret losing the friendships, but I don’t regret speaking my truth. They un-friended me by their own choice. I’m sorry for the sensitivity that created the problem, but I’m very proud that I spoke my mind.
I need to be able to accept myself more than I need the approval of others. Many times, I have lived a life being what others expect of me. But I’m not Jesus. I’m not perfect. I need to accept that I am, like many of us here, just like the fallen angels of biblical lore. We are alive to experience life, with its joys and its heart-wrenching tears. If I truly believe I am unique and divine, how can I not love myself?
The final step. I need to define who I am. I cannot doubt when I have a checklist of what I think are my best character traits!
1) I don’t like rules, but I need guidelines so that I know just how far I can bend the rules.
2) I love and strive to be unique. For years, I’ve tried to make this part of myself work with my desire to be who or what others expect of me. I’m just realizing the incongruity of it all. I can either be unique or be someone other people like. I can’t manipulate both. I am either one or the other. Chances are, if I’m unique, some people will love me for being unique. And, if not, well damn it all to hell!
3) I’m very comfortable in my body, finally. It took me years to be able to say that. In fact, it still feels wrong (in this day and age) to say I love my body and my sensuality. That’s okay today, see No. 1 for explanation.
4) I’m very laid back. Have been for many years. When my kid wanted to eat dirt. I let him. When the other one wanted to crawl around the zoo on hands and knees, I pushed the stroller alongside him for most of the trip until he decided he was done being a dog. I don’t stress the small stuff. (Of course, I have when others’ judgments started cropping up.) I’m done with others’ judgments, though. It’s my life, and, personally, I think my sons are two amazing young men who make me proud every day.
5) I’m a rebel who enjoys causing trouble, but not for trouble’s sake. I like to do things because I want to do them. Telling me I can’t do something is tantamount to putting rockets on my shoes. This Vision Quest is one of those things. My mother disapproves and scolded me and, recently, my husband for letting me go. My husband, a very patient and loving man, knows me well enough to accept my decisions. My mother, obviously, doesn’t.
6) Finally, and most importantly, I’m a good person. I love people and would bend over backward to help them, but not if I don’t want to. I think that’s what my students love most about me. They understand that I love them unconditionally, something many of them have not experienced enough in their short lives. One more thing about me, I wouldn’t consciously try to hurt someone, although I have out of my own ignorance. I have apologized for those mistakes.
And now, my pilgrimage continues because, although the answers are beginning to come to me, they are still not ingrained in my soul. My goal is to be the embodiment of the person I have just recognized here. They say if you repeat a lesson enough times, you will remember it for life. I have the rest of the month.
Yours, most devotedly,
The Dragonfly’s Student