They do not stop me from falling down the hole on my bad days, these new insights. They don’t entirely chase out the loneliness and embarrassment and doubt and FOMO and fear of everything else, but they do at least offer me some perspective on it.
Here’s what I’ve decided about life and living. Are you ready? It’s actually not about cake, so this is kind of a big step for me.
I think that over the course of a lifetime, we learn about our ego and how to control it. We learn that we’re small, but just as small as everyone else. We’re big, but just as big as everyone else. And we’re temporary, just as everyone else is temporary. It does’t matter if you owned a company or squatted in the basement of the building, you’re just as much and just as little as the next person. And every generation figures that out, eventually, but I think not until old age. You realize, in time, that competing for the *most* of anything was an impossible, frustrating, soul-stealing (or, stifling, anyway) mission. You can just be. Who you are. Not on a pedestal, not under one. Not in front of a camera, not in the mirror, not trying to find a better version of you in a magazine or on TV. Just quietly, genuinely, you. You felt like you were “trying to prove” something your whole life, but eventually you’re able to stand back and assess it and realize you never really new what “it” was you were proving, or “to whom.”
We humans make these really goofy rules to live by and then assume everyone will follow them. Competing to win at the rules is how we keep things organized, I think. If you really examine these rules- from caring about what clothes look like or what our bodies look like, or how stylish/fresh a piece of art is, all the way up to the caste systems we’ve designed to assign value to sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, culture…it’s all made up. It doesn’t improve our survival or contentment, and most of it is unnecessary, so, can we opt out?
I think in old age, you realize you can, and you start to. What if we can do that sooner? What if our eyes are opened earlier in life? Cuz if a generation just becomes wise and woke right before they’re folding into the ground, doesn’t the next generation just rise and do the same thing over again, over and over into eternity like little neurotic nesting dolls? Is there anyway around this?
For me, the idea of God helps. A huge, eternal spirit who made me exactly as I am and doesn’t regret it, loves me for me, is there, has always been, will always be. That’s encouraging and helps me see myself as a speck in a speck storm on a timeless scale. If something happens that makes me feel badly about myself, in theiry, I don’t have to choose to be mortified by it, because there is a big picture, and I am a cherished small part of it.
I’m trying really, really hard to examine the doubts and criticisms, as I experience them, and see if I agree with them before applying them to myself or refusing them. I’m reading the wonderful, “Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls,” by Jes Baker, and it basically concludes that if we could shrug off the pressure on physical appearance, and the pursuit of some contrived beauty standard, we would be a more peaceful, fulfilled, successful, kind, interesting, giving, whole people. It would improve the planet.
So, the things that crush us, that make us worry, are maybe actually largely ignorable. Especially, if we can get control of our egos, the itty bitty ups and downs of our self-esteem bouncing around inside us, maybe we could be so much more. We don’t actually have to care about clothes, or house size or décor, or the number on the scale. We are more than any of those things. They are just the arbitrary proof we’ve settled on that we matter, or how we measure how well we square up against each other.
Let’s let that go. We don’t have to own it, have it own us. Let’s be wise old birds, but youngish.
I’M TRYING. Like I said, this ‘ah-hah!’ doesn’t necessarily chase away my blehs, but I do feel like it’s helping my strength and courage.