On Being Yourself…Fully
At Podcast Movement in Chicago in the summer of 2016, the first keynote speaker was Kevin Smith. If you don’t know who he is, he’s an actor/filmmaker/podcaster generally known for all things blunt and comedic, with no shortage of explicit language in his world. The speech he gave was hilarious, and also inspiring on different levels. But amid his well-placed f-bombs that morning, he said something to me that I have since yet to stop thinking about, yet to stop considering. He said this:
“If you plant yourself in one place, sooner or later the world will come around to you.”
For years, I’d spent my time trying to do things the “world’s way”. Work hard and climb the ladder, they said. Be polite and nice and do and say all the right things that didn’t ruffle feathers, they said. Follow the rules, they said.
The thing is, I’m not much for rules.
I’m not talking about speeding limits and safety and rules that are for the good of the world. I’m talking about human and societal imposed rules and regulations about how to do, be, and have the experiences I want in this universe.
I realized I’d spent all this time trying to follow what society said were the logical steps to achieve any specific goal. That if I wanted X, I had to do and be ABC first. And that there is no other way.
In that moment though, when he said those magical words, I felt freedom. I felt home. I’d mostly stopped listening to the infamous “they” that ruled the world, the “they” I’d been taking advice from since I was five, even though I couldn’t actually name any of “them”. You know “they say you should” insert-thing-that-goes-against-whatever-I-was-doing. But when he said those words, what I really heard was, “Do whatever you want to do, whenever and however you want to do it. And don’t worry about “them”. You’re already having a more enjoyable, successful, and experiential life than any of “them.” They like control and don’t believe in magic. You like trust and do. Follow your own intuition. Over and over and stand strong in doing so. And eventually, they will come around to you.
In 2015, Justin Timberlake was noted for receiving an “Innovative Award” for his inventive and creative musical showcases and talents. The speech he gave following the award went like this:
“Growing up in school, no one ever called me close to an innovator. They called me different, they called me weird…so thankfully my mother taught me that being different was a good thing. That being different meant that you could actually make a difference…If you’re a young person like I used to be, and you’re at home watching, and you’re being called weird or you’re being called different, or whatever the hell it is you’re being called, I’m here tonight to tell you – your critics do not count. Their words will fade. You won’t. Stay foolish. Stay hungry. Dream. Work hard. And who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll find yourself standing on a stage, and maybe someday, somebody will be giving you an award, calling you an innovator.”
People may not understand you. They may not agree with you, may not like you, may be angry at you or jealous of you. They may judge you, think you illogical, unrealistic and unreasonable. They may be completely confused by your choices and your actions. As a society, we often think of things like this as “teenage” situations. The truth is that most of us carry the habits we built as self-preservation from our teenage years into adulthood. We’re still doing the things other people expect us to. We’re not doing things that light our souls on fire because it might cause disruption, and there might be some unhappy people as a result of our true choices.
The world likes to tell me all the time what I should do with my creativity. My words. My art. My time. My money. The thing is, most of those things feel difficult, draining, and unfulfilling to me. I’m about ease, connectedness, and expansiveness. If it’s not one of those things, I’m likely not going to listen.
I know myself. I trust myself. I’m willing to bet one thing: I’m gonna keep following myself and my way. This includes all things magical, colorful, uplifting, and easy. And I’m very, very certain that if it’s for the highest good of myself and those around me, sooner or later the world will come around to me too.
What are the things you’re still doing because someone else thinks you should? And what are the things in your life that you’re still holding yourself back from doing? Give yourself permission to show up fully as you, regardless of what the world has to say about it. The world isn’t living your life.