For nearly two weeks it has been on my mind. The simple stick figure meme with catchy, somewhat judgemental phrases telling me who I should be like and why I should be like them filled my Facebook newsfeed one weekend.
It was cute… Until it got annoying.
By the end of that weekend, two little words were shouting inside my head.
When exactly does it happen? When do we stop being who we really are and start being what everyone else tells us we should be? At what age do we start letting the opinions of others shape what we do and say, the things we like and dislike, what to value and what to ignore? I’d say it starts somewhere around the first grade. Then a lifetime later we are completely lost. We have no idea who we really are in this world because the only thing we’ve ever listened to are the opinions of others.
A perfect of this example is a friend of mine who loves sparkles. She loves dressing up and wearing sparkly things but somewhere between kindergarten and adulthood, sparkles became completely uncool. So she quit wearing them.
And she lost a little part of herself.
It’s probably fair to say that everyone wants to be loved and accepted. In exchange many (myself included) give up who we TRULY are for fear of rejection. I can imagine something on the inside of my sparkly friend saying, They don’t like sparkles. You really want them to like you. STOP wearing sparkles! Over time, it delves deeper and deeper perhaps sounding something like this:
They think you should play basketball because you’re a decent player and could help make a winning team. You don’t like basketball but you really want to be a hero. You go ahead and join the team.
They called you boring because you don’t party. You don’t want to be boring. You decide to start partying!
You love classical music. Your friends think classical music is for old people. You stop listening to classical and start listening to what’s popular with your group.
You drive an old car that you can afford. Someone (or more that one someone) makes an indirect comment about beater cars. You want to feel good enough. You purchase a car with loans and struggle financially.
You love many forms of art and want to pursue it for your future. Everyone says you can’t make a decent living as an artist. So you get an engineering (or whatever) degree so you will make lots of money.
Perhaps eventually, you stop having any opinion at all. Maybe you constantly seek approval of others before making decisions. And you don’t even know you’re doing it.
It probably happens slowly.
At least it did for me.
One day I woke up and realized I had no idea who it was looking back at me in the mirror. Searching for her has been the adventure of my lifetime! I love being me. In fact sometimes I think I’m pretty great.
But please, don’t be like me.
GO BE YOU!