This is a totally random topic, mostly because I didn’t do anything except work today. I’ll call it:
Don’t Always Rely on Cruise Control
We spend so much of our lives on cruise control. This is mostly good. After all, you’d not want to have to put lots of thought and effort into things like brushing your teeth or driving to work. It’s helpful to make things into habits, so we can do them without thinking. We get ourselves started—we make to do lists, we set our alarms, pack our lunches, schedule time at the gym. But we don’t question many things that are habits. If we really took a moment to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this right now?” or “Is this the best thing for me to do?” we’d often realize that rather than blazing our own paths, we’re just bustling along with the status quo.
It’s glaringly apparent with things like the way the Standard American eats—-corn subsidies, hydrogenated oils, and processed food, anyone? Why do people eat this stuff? Because it’s there. And it’s normal. And everybody is doing it.
I’ve never really been normal. I’m not even sure what it means, but I had another fabulous conversation with two people today that reminded me of the process I’ve been through to actually be glad I’m not normal. I still struggle sometimes with wondering what people will think if I live a certain way or make certain decisions. I wonder if my choices will make me look vulnerable or like I’m not getting what I want in life (because what I want isn’t normal, but no one knows that). I’m much better about this than I used to be–I never tried to fit in, but I did find myself in situations where I’d ask myself, “What am I doing? Is this fun? This is not fun. How do I get out of here?”
I’m super glad I’m in my 30′s now, and that I have enough of my own personality to have figured out my values and goals, and that I’m not (totally) afraid to just be who I am. At the same time, I continue to uncover things about myself that don’t make sense, and I catch myself just blending in because it’s easier.
I’ve always been guilty of this—I don’t tell people about my accomplishments when they ask. I minimize what I’m doing, and I agree with people in conversation about things I don’t really have an opinion about. I have done things like let people think I was in college when I was working at an Air Force Base Fitness center, just because it was easier (and it didn’t really matter what the old guys working out thought anyway).
My first and best success with being outward about something that makes me different is that I don’t fall in line when it comes to food anymore. That used to always be a barrier for me (and I know it is with my clients). Being bullied, or just tempted, or using social settings as justification for not sticking to my food guns…it happened all the time, and now it doesn’t. I don’t eat grains. I’m not telling you not to, but I don’t. I don’t eat sugar. Or beans. So there. I’m happy about it, and I’m using it to help me be more outward about other things too. Food is my gateway drug to not hiding who I am in other areas too.
I’m wondering…do you do this? Do you hide parts of yourself to other people if those things make you look different? I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and I’m often just agreeable in conversation because I want the other person to feel good about themselves. But I need a balance of voicing how I really feel and am too.
Please comment…and tell me something (or more than one thing!) that makes you different than the status quo.
I’ll start. I was valedictorian of my high school class. I had the highest GPA in my Master’s program, and I read research for fun. But I’ve always secretly believed that I’m not really that smart—I just got so lucky early on to slide through a couple hard classes at school (proclaimed to be that by my sister and her friends), and somehow the universe keeps making it happen. I also love to go to bed early. I watch Little House on the Prairie (still), and I think I might have been Anne of Green Gables in a past life (even though she’s fictional). I cry at every single episode of Private Practice. And Parenthood. When I was 5 or 6, I told my Mom I never wanted to have kids because there is too much of a chance of dying. She told me that doesn’t happen, but 20 years later, it happened to my sister. I hesitate to bring children into the world because (1) I’d be crazy about the way they eat, and (2) the world seems hard and maybe I should just focus on making lives better of people who are already here. At the same time, I worry that not having kids reflects on my worthiness as a human being, and might mean I’ll end up completely alone when I’m 80. I have to stop myself from always focusing on acquiring the next thing—I want to just be happy about where I am in every moment.
Being honest with myself, and coming off cruise control has really helped me do that.
I’ve quoted this from an article on Self-promotion on Crazy Sexy Life, and I loved this line:
“I’ve got what I’ve got, which is a lot. If that warms your cockles, let’s talk. If not, my engine is running, and I trust that your tribe is waiting for you elsewhere. meep meep.”
What about you?