It took me three months after the photo shoot last May to be able to share the fancy dress pictures like the one you see above. Why? Because I've come to realize again that I care way more than I should about what people think of me. I mean, it's of course reasonable to feel this way so we don't end up being serial killers or people who continuously harm others; so we can be functioning members of society with a conscience by caring how the greater collective sees us. Sure. However, it doesn't really serve me to have imaginary conversations with myself about what people might say and haven't actually said. Some of the bubbles of words I see over all of your heads are things like "who does she think she is" or "there's another picture of her flaunting her self", or "that's inappropriate for marketing her yoga" or "I'm really jealous of her so I'm going to make sure I don't support her to punish her for this so I can feel better about myself" or "she doesn't really look as good as she thinks she does". Ouch- I know- but it's time to get real. These thoughts really do float around in that monkey mind when I stop and get real and they come from fear, a place of inadequacy and not feeling good enough, but they also stem from a place of feeling better then others- that's the hard truth- and this is the line we always have to walk. If I didn't think so little of myself then I wouldn't be afraid of others thinking less of me, and if I didn't think so much of myself then I would care less if anyone thought I was stupid, or bragging and boasting or if anyone felt envy.
What would it feel like to truly not care what other people thought about you? For me, I imagine it would probably FEEL a lot like the picture above. What if it was just enough to do my best and at the end of the day not see or feel the bubbles over people's heads that I've imagined. Even if they are true-- and I will never know, it's a waste of time, and it won't really change what I do. It will just leave me with a terrible feeling of second guessing myself.
Why is it that so many of us spend so much of our time worrying about how we appear, about whether we are liked and ultimately about fame in a small or big way?
I think it's complicated and is related to a combination of our upbringing, the values we are taught as children and frankly how good we are at untwisting anything demoralizing in order to replace it with a higher sense of morality and love. And this takes practice and time.
We all have this need to be loved and respected and admired. And if smudging the lines on our story or posting a bad ass video or picture of ourselves can increase that love and admiration even by 1% then why not? ...we just kind of automatically do it. The problem arises when this becomes a chronic habit and those little smudges become big smears of needing approval, appreciation, acknowledgement, etc, etc, etc. Though I haven't succumbed to this mentality THIS time around, I can assure you I haven't mastered anything. I know all too well that this frame of mind can often lead to a desperate desire to please and impress those around and I just end up being an annoying try-hard.
When we feel insecure we somehow develop this irrational believe that we must be the only ones who don't know what the heck we're doing with ourselves. This could be the feeling of the odd person out at a party, the new person at work, the black sheep of the family. This simply isn't true. Chances are that if you are feeling awkward and clueless, the people around you are feeling the same way. They're just muddling their way through it the same way you are.
The other end of the spectrum is assuming you know what you're doing and that everyone else has no clue. But then sometimes instead of facing our feelings of inadequacy, and feeling them head-on, we avoid them, with an opposite but equally irrational belief- that we have it all figured out, we're awesome and it's everybody else who has screwed up. Not only is this rarely true but it makes you and me completely irresponsible and unaccountable human beings.
We often forget that no one has a clue...really. The fact is that these two things are often both true- you can be clueless as to what you're doing with your life, and all the people around you can be clueless as well. This is pretty likely most of the time. But these feelings of "I'm a loser", "everyone else is so cool, and "I'm a bad ass and everyone else is a loser, really are our compulsive comparisons of ourselves to others, both of which are irrational, unhealthy and unnecessary. Both are harmful to us and both are hard to know with any level of certainty. The truth is that you have insecurities and other people have theirs, and they really aren't that different. The difference is how we tend to cope with them. We all choose to dwell on these little things in our lives, obsessing over them and feeling that they are unique to us but are actually present in everybody. And the stuff we used to cover it up, is tricking ourselves into believing that it's so important.. that this stuff matters more than anything else in life.. you know like posting or not posting a picture of myself, having a perfect beach body, or a Porsche, or having the most idyllic home with fancy landscaping, and then we wonder, is this all life is? We lose track of our deeper purpose so we have to reel ourselves back constantly. There is not much value to our lives if we don't have a purpose. And if we don't have a purpose then the reason we avoid letting go of these insecurities, the reason we avoid solving our own issues or our own pain is that if we do then all this really really important stuff: The money, the house, the boat,- all the stuff that feels like it matters like life or death, will go away, leaving us simply with ourselves, the ones that have no purpose. And this is terrifying. These are the real monsters under the bed, the real demons in the mind. But we tend to put a big smile on our face and say everything is "just fantastic" and open up a new tab for Facebook even though we just looked at it on the phone five seconds ago, then decide which end of the spectrum we'll be living today- everyone is better than me or everyone else sucks. We might die and not do everything we wanted to do, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still try, that doesn't mean our lives don't have meaning. The truth is that we're all in this together, and if we can look at our insecurities, and transform ourselves into better people, it doesn't matter how much stuff we have or how good we look in a particular moment because we can end up feeling good about ourselves in a way that is more lasting and meaningful than the kind of car we drive, or how awesome our joke was at the last social event. Rather than judging ourselves based on and on how much we look like or act like our favorite movie star, or yogi, for that matter, we can judge ourselves based on our own virtue and morality. We keep walking that line between humility and confidence so we don't fall into the net below. And that type of cultivation and virtue leads to a deeper happiness and purpose that has no limit. There is no limit to how good of a person you and I can be- how much love and kindness we can contain in our hearts- and that's pretty darn amazing isn't it? Yeah, I've got work to do, AND there are beautiful parts of me that get to shine.