Sometimes I get really annoyed with the people I love most. Does this ever happen to you?
My father and I can be having the best phone chat, and then I’m suddenly reminded how he doesn’t clean his house well, and when I come back home to visit I’m going to have to walk all over the grimy kitchen floor. Come on dad, mopping can be fun! Then there’s my husband. We can be having the most wonderful morning, enjoying our daily coffee together, when all of a sudden we start discussing how to decorate the house. Then, come the opinions. My husband has A LOT of thoughts and ideas when it comes to decorating our home, something I was certainly not prepared for when it came to being a wife. I truly thought a woman decorates the home because men aren’t that interested in it. I believed this to be true because growing up my mother was the boss when it came to decorating our house, and not just her room but every room in the house including my bedroom.
I remember the first time I set out to make my bright pink bedroom ( a color my mother choose for the space) a little more like me and a little less like her. It was a Monday morning when I decided to hang my recently purchased massive animal posters on my bedroom wall. You know the kind, those giant posters that used to live by the check out counter at the annual scholastic book fair. That year, I had saved up enough quarters to get three of them, and I couldn’t wait to put them up! One was an image of a beautiful, longhaired gray kitten. The second was a photograph of seven golden retriever puppies cuddled up next to each other in a woven brown basket, and then third, my personal favorite, was an image of five midnight black throughbreeds running on a soft bed of snow. After I scotch taped the life out of those posters, I went off to school. When I returned home that afternoon I was horrified to see my room devoid of my beloved animal posters. The first thing that came to my mind was not, “Where are my posters?” but instead I thought, “Where is my mother?”
She was lounging in bed reading the latest edition of Vogue magazine when I approached her. “Mom, where are my posters?” She smiled, sweetly and innocently like this was a silly little thing that needed not to be discussed. Then she said, “Oh, Sarah, you didn’t need those posters. They were such an eye sore so I took them down.” I was fuming with anger. An eye sore? The posters in my room where I spent most of my time that hardly anyone saw except me were an eye sore? To whom? Oh, right, to my mother. I stormed out of her bedroom and back to my bedroom where I found my beloved posters. They were sitting in a messy stack on the top shelf in my closet. They weren’t even rolled up like how you’re properly supposed to store posters. I was so upset that I had no say in decorating my own room that I decided right then and there I would decorate my closet, a space nobody would ever be able to see and have an eye sore.
I taped those three giant posters on my closet wall. Then, I gathered all my stuffed animals and lined them up next to my shoes. Next, I put a throw blanket down to make it cushy for my tushy, and I sat down. I looked around at my masterpiece, and smiled. The space felt like me. An hour later, when my mother emerged from her bed, which felt like her throne, she was aghast when she found me sitting in my closet with those three giant animal posters hanging around me. “Sarah Marie!” she huffed. “Well, my gosh, what have you done here?” She looked around my closet as I watched her take in the space. I stared at her, eyes full of fury. It was exhausting to be a creative child constantly stifled. “What? You wouldn’t let me decorate me own room,” I said flatly. Mom shrugged and said, “Fine, you can keep your posters in here. This can be your space, and I won’t touch it.” Then she nodded approvingly and walked away.
There are many lessons I could have taken away from this story, but when I was 11-year-old, all I thought was here in this dark hole called my closet where nobody can see me is the only place my mother has allowed me to be me. That day I learned something that would come to haunt me for many years which was being me was “too much.” It was so much that hiding every part of myself in the closet seemed necessary to live life. Hide your opinions, your style, your thoughts, your ideas, and your dreams in this dark, isolated closet Sarah, okay?
Today I am 30-years-old, and I can truly say this year has been the first year in my life I have started not to cover up what makes me, me, anymore. I have shielded my true self for so long, trying to be everything I was never meant to be, and it’s done nothing but make me envious of those who are uniquely themselves without trying to hide it.
Today I firmly believe one of the greatest atrocities in our world is when a mother tells her daughter being you is too much so make herself a little smaller, softer, quieter and more agreeable. This kills a woman’s personality, thoughts, ideas, brilliance, and uniqueness. A woman was not made to be like another woman just like a man was not made to be like another man. We don’t need more macho men. Please, no. We don’t need more agreeable women. Absolutely not. We need humans who are more themselves teaching us other humans struggling to be ourselves how to get there.
How do we become more of us when we’ve had to suppress who we are for so long?
We have to start FAILING.
Three years ago, I took a class about stand up comedy. To my surprise (no, really I was surprised) I was pretty good at the whole stand up on stage and try to make people laugh thing. After the course was over, my teacher gave me a referral to The Comedy Store, and it took off from there. For three years, I didn’t just get on stage and perform jokes, but I did the most important thing of all to become more of you in life: I failed miserably. I failed to get people to laugh at open mics, live shows, and in front of top agents who could have changed my career. Sure, I had some wonderful, hooting, hollering, and laughter filled shows, but for every great one, I had a wretched one. Standing on stage, in front of a live audience, and telling jokes that nobody is laughing at is possibly one of the absolute worst feelings in the world. Not only do you question your jokes, but you start to question your writing, your posture, your clothing, your voice, your pauses, and the thoughts you thought were so funny up in your mind. You question YOU. But after you’ve failed enough in life, something marvelous happens!
When you’ve filled your quota for failing, you begin to stop caring what people think and step into who God made you to be. You begin to laugh at your own jokes because they crack you up. You stop worrying about how you sound and what you say because you’re not trying to mold yourself into somebody else anymore. When this occurs, you have achieved what I believe is the ultimate goal in life: you no longer care what people think about you. For this world to function and excel at capacity we can’t be the same.
We are different for a reason. The world needs different.
These days, I feel a lot more like me than I’ve ever felt, but it took 3 years of failing to get here. If you are like me, and had to suppress everything that made you “you” as a kid, I beg of you to sign up for something you are terrible at: painting, karate, running, yoga, or a pottery class. Then show up and allow yourself to fail. When you stat to fail daily, you fail weekly, then monthly, and then that magical moment in your life will surface when you no longer care what people think about you. When this occurs, then your life starts to work out like never before because you are open to be who you were meant to be on our short time on Earth.
What have you done lately to feel more like yourself? Share your journey in the comments below!