Skim my last entry to know why this one exists.
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“Then do it!” says the person who has not yet realized that things are easier said than done.
I interpret having the courage to be myself as acting how I would if no one is around or cared what I am doing. Not acting how other people believe I should act to receive attention.
Born apathetic to what others think, we are not yet aware that we would like others to think of us as valuable. Humans evolved to survive in groups. No attention means no admission into a group. Which means no safety from others groups. Which used to mean it was difficult to have food, water, and other sources to survive and thrive. Which, in short, means death.
As we grow in adolescence, we realize people expect us to act a certain way. Our parents shape us with their values. Then the rest of our family throw in their two cents. Then we go to school and our teachers start molding us with their values. Then the most difficult time, our teenage-peers mold us with their inputs from various people and things throughout life. Various inputs from magazines, news, billboards, TV shows, movies, music, and I could go on all day but I want this post published before I develop carpal tunnel.
Humans realize that to gain attention we must act how others assume we ought to act. This is why it is important to choose wisely who we would like attention from. Also important, realizing that it is possible to survive without attention from anyone. Nowadays, it is possible to survive without leaving the comforts of your home.
I could work from home, have Amazon deliver everything, and throw away all notices for jury duty. It is possible to be the Old Cat Lady you’ve always dreamed to be and never have contact with another human being. I would not opt for that because I’m a delicate man with a need for human attention sometimes. Until I’ve had enough human interaction and go back home to curl up with Reddit. We are highly social creatures but the point is, we do not need to please others to survive anymore.
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Many people find themselves pressured to live a certain way: dressy impress, own a house or move out and rent, have children, get married, drink alcohol, and so on. If you enjoy something, by all means, do it. A person ought to do whatever they please to in life as long as that action does not impede on another’s civil liberties. However, if you are doing things because others are doing it or because others are pressuring you to do it, by any mean necessary, do not do it.
Most agree that it is better to have a few quality friends than a larger quantity of stale friends. When one is true to herself, she attracts people that take her for who she is, not for the facade she could be presenting. “Oh no! How will I act when I am in the presence of two people that I have two differing facades for?” You’d feel like you’re stuck in an old Eddie Murphy movie; playing several different characters. How exhausting.
Courage to be true to yourself is important for sanity. If most people do not like what you’re doing, but a few people love it, that’s great.
Learning sonder helped me to be truer to myself. It helps me realize that people do not think about my life as often as I had hoped — and that’s a good thing.
Finding interest in philosophy and psychology also helped me. To learn about my irrational behavior and then the logic to attempt to remedy my irrational behavior. I remember taking a MOOC with Dan Ariely from Duke online that was thought provoking. Unfortunately, it does not seem it is offered anymore but I recommend his Ted Talks and books!
I developed the courage to not care about small things. I wear Crocs knowing that most people think they are hideous but knowing that a) my feet are comfortable and b) if some does not talk to me because I wear Crocs, I do not need that person in my life. Some of this courage I had the priviledge of being born with. Much more was gained when I took my first long trip alone outside of the country. For 3.5 months I backpacked around Europe and realized no one knew me, no one cared much what I did, how I dressed, etc.
Core values are especially important to show courage towards. If you firmly believe the death penalty is a good thing, do not be silent with liberals. Same as if you are a firm believer in abortion, it is better to have a civil discussion rather than avoid the topic because someone might not feel the same as you about it. If someone decides not to talk to you because of who you truly are, you have 7.6 billion more chances to make friends.
I’m a currently-unemployed-atheistic-vegan guy that wears Crocs & pajama pants out to nice restaurants with friends. Since I like to know what is in my food, I bring my own food to the restaurant to eat. Then I say things like it’s okay for a brother and sister to have sex for pleasure as long as they wear a condom to prevent the likely birth defects of a child created by them. I am vegan but I think it is fine to eat roadkill, that includes humans! Which is a contradiction proving that I am not perfect.
Even after my poor public appearance and being a walking contradiction, I still have friends. Let me be your example, your shining beacon of light that anything is attainable. I even have a girlfriend. She says that she was first attracted to me because I appeared comfortable with myself and seemed like I did not care what others thought. I am glad to have someone that accepted me as my true self from the start. And while I can survive without her in this life, I much rather prefer her to be in it.
It is not easy to have courage. It takes a lot of repetition and willpower to shake off the years of inputs that have tainted our minds. Let us not be one of Bonnie’s patients. I implore you to go out today and courageously be the you that you were born to be. So when we are laying on a bed dying and someone asks if we regret anything, we can say no, and pass into Unconscious Foreverness, while wearing our pajamas & Crocs.
The title of this post was inspired by Villagers.