I'm a grown-up! (so why do I still care so much about what people think of me?)

I'm a grown-up! (so why do I still care so much about what people think of me?)
photo courtesy of Sam Teigen of Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The other day, my six year old son said to me:

G: Mom, you’re not like other moms, are you?

Me: No, kiddo. I’m not. I would say I am a little odd...

XANADU ! from Old Single Mom on Vimeo.

And by God, I’m determined to teach him that it’s okay to be a little odd. It’s more than okay: being odd is awesome. All of my favorite people live on the wrong side of the picket fence. And frankly, I think the world could use more individuals who have broken free from lives of unexamined wisdom and particleboard.

But before I can teach him that lesson, I have to not only believe it, I have to live it. I have to walk the oddball walk if I’m going to talk the oddball talk. But even as a grown-ass lady, it still makes me nervous to live large in my brand of crazy. And the barrier between me and that elusive freedom is the same barrier that has gotten in my way as far back as the first day of middle school: I still care what people think about me. A lot. 

***

In the past few months, there have been a lot calls to action in the media, encouraging people to BE AUTHENTIC!

Sarah Bareilles had a huge hit in which she wailed her literal plea - that we all be “Brave!”

Recently on SNL, there was a video where (mostly) women dropped the BS, and fearlessly spoke their truth, even at the risk of being socially uncouth.

In Branagh’s movie Cinderella, the title character stands at a crossroads, nervous about revealing to the Prince that she is not a Princess, but is, in fact, a common peasant girl. **

It’s a great message, right? Who can argue with bravery as something desirable? The world needs YOU, and only YOU can be YOU. But for me, to be truly authentic takes courage, which is crazy because I’m a grown-ass woman! I’m not an awkward middle schooler, here. I’m a big girl with a Roth IRA. WTF?

Why does it still take so much courage to be who I am?

Actually, that’s a trick question, because a grown-ass lady knows the answer by now, and it's this: it’s hard to pull back the curtain on my inner wizard because I’m afraid of being rejected. I’m afraid of being called “weird.” I'm afraid of owning that I am a weirdo. Vulnerability can be uncomfortable, and I will do anything to avoid discomfort.

And all of those are chapter titles in the bestselling book: I’m afraid of being alone.

See, it’s more socially acceptable to be a oddball in your 20’s than in your 40’s. In your 20’s, being a little odd can still be attributed to self-discovery, and can be written off a as a "phase." But if you are still a wing-nut in your 40’s, you are a bonafide wing-nut. It's not the easiest thing to see "the look" in people's eyes as it dawns on them that they are talking to a bonafide wing-nut.

But …

Life has a way of delivering game changing blows to the cracks in my armor. Never is the delicacy of life amplified more than when a loved one is given frightening news, and must summon the strength and courage for the fight of their life. Such unexpected turns project the fragility of life onto the walls around me in the form of long, dark shadows. Against such a Juggernaut of Real Fear, all the petty fears of ego dissolve like the paper-thin illusions they are. In light of a family member's recent fork in the road, I am no longer afforded the luxury of irreverence towards my own mortality. It's now or never, man, and I choose Now.

Because, see, if it was just me on this journey, I could probably hide behind a mask that serves to dim the light in me, and keep me hidden in the shadows of my potential. But it’s not just for me that I live, and I can’t teach my son what I don’t know. I have to walk the crazy walk if I’m going to teach the crazy talk.

So, hell yeah, Xanadu. That's me, kiddo. That's your Mom. 

**(Sidebar: Why was Cinderella so nervous about revealing that, though? In this version, he had already MET her when she was her real self. Whateves...)
***
That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thank you for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world. Carry on...

Old Single Mom
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