All Systems Normal
One aspect of my personality is that I like to say that I do not care what other people think of me.
I guess that’s really more “aspirational” than always true in fact.
Sometimes it sneaks up on me and I have to take a moment to rethink what it means to “not care what other people think of me.”
This line of thought was prompted by a comment on FaceBook that my new hair color is “Normal”.
And my visceral reaction to that was “Oh No!”
If I TRULY do not care what other people think of me – I should embrace the parts of me that meet societal expectations AS WELL AS the parts of me that do not.
As you all know (because, damn, I kept TALKING about it here), I went through some trouble with a bit of an identity crisis after leaving Derby.
Because one of the things Derby is, is “cool”.
And somewhere deep inside my “I do not care what other people think of me” attitude, there is clearly a large chunk of “as long as they think I am odd/weird”.
But there’s nothing wrong with doing things that other people do as well. I LIKE a lot of things that other people like. I enjoy hiking in the woods. This is not weird. I enjoy (now, and new), cooking. This is not weird. I enjoy watching “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. This is CLEARLY not weird because it’s on ALL THE TIME, so people must really LOVE IT.
All of these things are awesome.
Does the fact that other people also think they are awesome somehow negate the awesome-tude?
Because if THAT’S my attitude, I might as well just put on my skinny jeans, move to Brooklyn and join the hipsters in hating anything that becomes the tiniest bit popular because I have to be “different”.
But… if I REALLY don’t care what other people think of me, then I do not have to be either different or the same.
I can, in fact, be anything I like.
I can look like everyone else if I want to. Or I can look different.
I can put a shirt on and cover up my tattoos, or I can wear a bikini and show them off.
I can enjoy eating foods that other people might consider odd, or I can go out and eat a grilled chicken salad along with half of the rest of the country.
All of these things are OK.
One thing from Buddhism that has always really resonated with me is the idea that desire is the root of unhappiness.
If I desire things I cannot have, this can make me unhappy. I actually have a kind of nifty way that I approach that. I have a “shelf” in my head. And when I see things that are really pretty or cool or in some other way makes me say “WANT”, but it’s not something that, frankly, I need or have room for or the money to acquire… I take that thing and put it on my “mind shelf”… where it is now mine. But I do not have to pay for it or store it or anything else.
This works very well for “things”… But I don’t know exactly how well I could make it work for thoughts and feelings.
At any rate… the concept of “desire”… I WANT to feel a certain way – and external validation can help with that. But is that healthy? Why should I look to any externality to validate me or my choices? (she says, while she blogs this on the web to get external feedback and validation)…
OK – nobody lives in a vacuum… we all want approval. I want the SB to love me and approve of me. I want my family to love me and (mostly) approve of me. I want friends.
So obviously I do have to care what people think of me on some level – otherwise I am a hermit in a cave.
I am going to give this more thought. I think that my basic premise works – but that I might have been misunderstanding my own logic. I guess it goes more along the lines of “as long as I approve of myself, then the approval of outsiders, while nice, is not necessary for me to go on with my life”.
Maybe that works better… Then I just need to embrace the parts of me that are not “weird”, which, weirdly, is the harder part.
OK, this has driveled on long enough. I might revisit at some point, but it’s gotta go back into the brain for cud-chewing at this point.