Seriously. Why do I take myself so seriously? Do you do that too?
It’s the oddest thing, because I love to laugh. I love silliness. In fact, people who are secure enough in themselves to be silly in public are some of my favorite people! And I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve said the key to my sanity is that I don’t take life too seriously. For the most part, I don’t. It’s much more enjoyable to laugh at the absurdity of a situation than to get annoyed by it.
However, when it comes to my own stuff, it seems all my “don’t take life too seriously” talk goes right out the window. I’m constantly stopping myself with thoughts of “what will people think if I do that?” But, why should I care? I shouldn’t. (And neither should you, by the way. In case you were wondering.) Unless whatever action I’m considering has the potential to harm someone… but, unlike the character that inspired the image above, I’m not a homicidal maniac.
There’s no good reason to be worried about simply offending someone. I have no control over how anyone may react to something I do; if offense is the knee-jerk reaction, perhaps they have their own stuff to deal with but it doesn’t involve me; I’m merely a catalyst that might open them up to some sort of self-realization. Or not. Either way, none of my business.
Another one of my signature sayings is, “normal is boring.” I’ve always believed that. I grew up with musicians and artists and considered creative people to be the best kind of weird. I considered myself to be one of them. One of the weirdos. Not only was I okay with that, I thought I embraced it. Yet, some part of me, despite what I said and what I thought I thought… was still trying to “fit in” and be “normal.” Now, that’s really weird.
Who have I been trying to impress? Who have I been afraid of disappointing? Not my parents, my brother, my husband or my friends… they all know my inner weirdo and love it. In fact, most of them are wonderfully creative weirdos too. (“Birds of a feather…”)
So, if I’m not trying to impress the people I love the most in this world, who am I trying to impress? That’s the really crazy part: I don’t know! Strangers? Why?! Because they’re potential clients? Why would I put on a mask of normality to entice people who I don’t yet know and who might not like the real (silly) me anyway because I’ve convinced them I’m normal (boring)? It makes much more sense to be myself, quirks and all, and therefore only attract people who will enjoy working with me. I’d rather work with fun people, (Creative Souls,) anyway.
After some mediation on this topic…
The answer I’ve come up with so far (and I’m guessing it goes deeper than this) is that my “normal mask” got thicker during the course of my previous job, especially once Facebook became a part of my life. I actually joined Facebook for business networking because my boss asked me to and was planning to just keep using my MySpace account for more personal social interaction. Of course, MySpace faded away and I eventually connected with more friends than business associates on FB. But, I always had in the back of my mind that someone who knew me through the jewelry industry (whether a retail store owner, stone vendor, jewelry designer or editor,) might possibly see something that I posted, despite my privacy settings. I didn’t want to risk offending someone in my boss’s circle and somehow cause harm to her business.
That was a big part of why I felt I had to quit my job before I could truly run my own business; I want to run an authentic business, one that feels like ME and attracts an audience with a similar vibe. (Note: I don’t recommend this for everyone, it was a personal choice to eliminate my biggest excuse. You might be able to fully embrace your authenticity while keeping your day job.) I felt handcuffed by the idea that I had to always appear “professional” because I was representing someone else’s company, shackled by the thought of potentially offending someone if I let too much of my ME-ness show…
So, did that all change once I was on my own, representing myself? Sort of, but I can now see it’s going to take some effort. (Getting rid of my biggest excuse revealed some underlying issues that I now have to deal with.) I’ve built up a bad habit of hiding over the years and it’s probably going to take a little time to flip that script and get back in the habit of shining. But I am working on it. I’m paying more attention to my self-talk and when I catch myself taking me too seriously, I say in a silly mental voice, “Why so serious?” and it usually makes me giggle and snap out of it.
See, here’s the thing: hiding your light, trying to “fit in” and taking life too seriously, those are all fear-based reactions, usually instigated by that mean inner voice (whether you call it your ego, a gremlin, or the itty bitty shitty committee, you know that voice) and that horrible inner bully loses its edge when you get silly with it. The next time that voice tries to tell you you’re too this or not enough that, try channeling PeeWee Herman and reply, “I know you are but what am I?” :p
By now I’m sure you’ve figured out this post was really just a long “note to self” but, if you’ve read this far, I’d like to think you’ve had a few lightbulb moments of your own. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s scared to shine but really wants to. And I want everyone to shine! Wouldn’t that be fantastic if no one was afraid to expose their own personal brand of creative weirdness?
Now it’s your time to shine in the comments below. Have you ever struggled to shine your light for fear of offending someone? Have you figured out a way to consistently tell your inner bully to kindly eff off? Let’s get a discussion going below and support each other in our respective silliness. Let your freak flag fly!