“be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.” – Henry David Thoreau
I had a silly debate over the Labor Day weekend. I was sitting at a BBQ yapping it up when a friend that always tells it how it is claimed that she’s socially awkward. Before she could move to the next sentence, I chimed in letting her know that wasn’t the case.
“No. You’re not socially awkward. You’re just brutally honest. Wanna talk about social awkwardness? I know all about that. In fact, you’re looking at it.”
Of course others chimed in letting me know that I’m not socially awkward, which created a mini debate. But who argues about the right to be called socially awkward? Like it’s a prized title or something. However, within the silliness of it all, there was a nugget of value and the basis of the journey I’m about to go on:
Acceptance of who I am even if it means taking on a stigmatized title. Looking back, I realized that’s something I’ve struggled with over the years. I mean I’ve always known who I am, but what I’ve wanted to be has fluctuated with time and place. I’ve wanted to be the loudest voice in the room (I’m not). I’ve wanted to be the guy other guys look up to because of his uncanny ability to pull women at hello (I did alright, but I wasn’t the sultan of bedpost). I’ve wanted to be the person with 30,000 followers, 20,000 Facebook fans, and invites to all the “coolest” events (I get invited to stuff, but it never feels like enough). I’ve went places and talked to people in hopes of fitting in and being part of the group, only to be present but still feel like I’m on the outside. I won’t even get into my mediocre tenure as a rapper. I accepted nobody would buy my album except whoever I was dating and my mom…who doesn’t use computers or have a cd player. I’ve also accepted that I’ve been a social chameleon.
Some may find that a good thing, but the effort it’s taken to continuously change colors hasn’t been without a price. Fatigue, stress, anxiety, and subsequent escapism. That’s why I’m giving up on trying to be and instead focused on just being. Immersing myself in my strengths and putting out what feels right rather than what feels wanted. Sometimes that’ll be career advice. Sometimes it’ll be a reflective piece like this. Other times it’ll be something completely random (like my annoyance with Miley Cyrus in CNN headlines). But the last thing I wanna do is let people restrict my freedom and dictate my reality. I can’t be happy in that construct.
You know, looking back at what I’ve just written, some would say this is a damaging post. It paints me in a way that looks weak. It takes away from my credibility as a thought leader, puts chinks in my brand…or whatever. But the truth is I think it’d have been more damaging to not write it. So my question for you is:
Are you able to be your full self (acceptance) or are you zapping your energy to paint a socially acceptable picture? Me? I’m starting to like what I see on the canvas.