"Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It's the fear that we're not good enough." - Brene Brown
2013: "OMG Whyyyy would you ever wear those? Is that a joke!?" The entitlement twisted the end of her words into a jagged point. I watched as my other friend's face slowly fell into disappointment disguised by a timid laugh. Ten minutes later, we were walking out of the house and she was wearing a different pair of shoes.
We were 21, but I still remember the night so vividly. Unknown to many, she actually bought those velvet, platform shoes at a consignment shop because her deceased cousin had a similar pair. Now, I thought nothing of this conversation up until today, when I read something that got under my skin.
Why are we always so quick to cast shame on other people?
Now let me preface this by saying, there are definitely instances where opinions are valid. If someone’s quality of life, culture, identity, or basic human rights are being negatively restricted, by all means, we need to continue to speak up against the choices that perpetuate the behavior. I'm personally speaking on a lower scale of personal interests and choices.
My friend once blatantly told me " Your discontent with others is primarily triggered by the areas you battling through within yourself."
I initially became super defensive when I heard that, but it struck a cord. Why waaassss I so tormented by what made others happy? Why did I feel the need to always leap to pre-conceived notions about others? Was that girl I follow truly void of character because she enjoys beauty and fashion? Is she trying to make me hate myself because she posts herself in cute outfits or gym attire? Well, 99% of the time the answer is no. The real answer is actually that I wasn't comfortable enough in my own skin to do those things.
I feel like at times we speak through our insecurities. Like in the instance above. Just because someone likes to glam up, doesn't mean they have no soul or depth. Sometimes, we project our internal self-doubt and characterize it as someone else's excessiveness. Examine a little deeper and see why their actions bother you. What is the root of your discontent with their choice? Does it tie into any personal insecurity of your own? I used to be big on playing "judge" and many times it was directly related to things I wanted for myself. (*sings “Hi Hater” to myself in the mirror*)
My past choices were mainly derailed by internalized shame. I constructed boundaries while convincing myself to do things to fit in. NO ONE was directly telling me I couldn't do anything. I conjured up that lie to myself with my own imagination. I narrated snide remarks or passive hypocritical statements others might make BEFORE THEY EVER HAPPENED. I remember feeling embarrassed for wanting to try new things, WITHOUT EVEN TRYING THEM FIRST. I listened to so many people talk crap about others, I became paralyzed by what they might say about me. My insecurities and habit of people-pleasing was the perfect recipe for failure. The worst part? No one lives with the consequences of your actions, but us. We carry the disappointment of not being true to ourselves. Yet, we also carry the decision to release the disappointment. We can choose to say "IDGAF" and do our own thing.
I'm really working on ending the perpetuation of shame in 2019. Especially as a creator with a platform. I want my work to empower people to feel safe in their own skin. I also want it to help people reflect when necessary. Everyone is different, so that definition of contentment will be different for everyone. There is no perfect type of person. Maybe you feel happy when you get dressed up and go out for brunch. Maybe you like to just chill out and wear athletic gear. Maybe you hate being outdoors and prefer to go to events. Maybe you thrive in nature and feel at one with open skies. No specific individual personality type is more holistic than the other. I know fashionistas and adventure-seekers who are both equally incredible people.
You are you. What you wear, listen to, attend, and participate in is your choice. Just be a decent human being and stay in your lane.
The next time I want to express an opinion on what someone is doing, I'm proceeding with caution. Considering how it would feel if the behavior was reciprocated toward me for something I enjoy. I'm also asking myself:
Is their choice impacting my personal health?Does their decision mess with my finances?Are the people I care about being harmed by it?Does it impede on my ability to live freely?Am I just kinda being a hater?
If the answer is no, I will think twice about what I'm saying. If the answer is yes, I will consider why and take action from there. However, putting others down for what they enjoy is only a reflection of something deeper within. Don't be that person who constantly projects unwarranted shame onto people. If you’re going to preach to people about living their best life, let them live in whatever capacity that is. You just stick to yours and shine in your own way. If you are reading this and battling to overcome shame, I'm right there with you. Every choice we make for ourselves is taking us in the right direction though. We all have access to happiness. It simply starts with a choice.
Let's choose what we believe is best for us. Always.
Sending love and light always :)