I’m around middle school students quite a bit lately and I’m reminded of that stage in life when we become hyper-aware of other people and often every choice we make is driven by how we perceive they will see us for it. It’s a hell of a way to live. This is why so few people think of the middle school years with fondness. They are brutal because we give our power away to other people who have absolutely no business having it, no idea how to handle it and are completely obsessed with protecting their own fragile egos.
A few brave souls sail through this ordeal without it damaging their sense of self too badly, but many people actually hold onto the scars they gained during that time and it makes them that much more apt to be safe and small in their future lives.
Oh, the amazing accomplishments we would all be capable of if we weren’t so bloody concerned with saving face. Think about all the things you might have tried if you knew you couldn’t fail. Your life would probably be so much more colourful and exciting and joyful right now, right? Have you created a safe little world for yourself and convinced yourself that you are perfectly content within it? What makes you do that? Fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection. Fear of what others might think. Curiously enough we aren’t nearly as afraid of looking at ourselves in the mirror every day, knowing that we are living well beneath our potential as we are of the opinion of the unnamed “everyone” out there who we fear will judge us if we take a leap and fall. And that is totally jacked up
I always tell my kids that other people are far too worried about themselves to worry about anyone else for more than a fleeting moment. Are you going to sell the riches of your infinite life potential which is truly only bound by what you can imagine, by your imagined opinion of what other’s opinions might be? People who barely give you a passing thought anyway? Doesn’t that sound juvenile and crazy? That’s how most people function though.
Imagine going to a dear friend’s funeral and saying, “well he basically didn’t do one single remarkable thing with his life, but thank god nobody ever thought of him as crazy or ridiculous when he tried. That’s a huge comfort. I’m so glad we are going to lay this man to rest with him having lived a totally safe vanilla life, utterly under the radar. It’s so great that we are going to bury him with his untapped potential and his passions unexplored. Whew.” When people come to my funeral I would absolutely rather they were laughing their asses off at all the crazy dreams and schemes I went after with all the energy of my heart and talents. I would rather they speak fondly of my spectacular failures in every possible area as I explored the edges of my world and capabilities than looking at each other wondering what could be said about me that might be remarkable or memorable in any way.
When I go on a training run 2 weeks before a ½ marathon I like to finish with a little gas in the tank. I don’t like to leave the training course completely and utterly spent. This gives me a psychological edge for the race. Knowing that I have achieved the distance with a little extra in me gives me the reassurance that on race day I have a cushion. I have extra to give on that day if conditions are bad or my body isn’t playing ball. I don’t want to leave actual race feeling anything but completely exhausted though. I don’t want to leave wondering if I could have kicked it up a notch there at the end and improved my time by even a second. I want to be exhilarated by knowing that I left absolutely everything out there. And then my time can be anything. I can’t ask for more from my body than everything it had to give. If I have trained well and I run without ego and with grit and courage, I don’t care what time I get.
Life should be that way. If you run your own race and you run it with courage and discipline and grit..then who the hell cares what the results are? If you give it your all, the results absolutely do not matter. What matters is that you used your life. You found out what you were capable of. You asked the universe for what you wanted, you took what it gave you, you expanded on it. You shared it. You developed your extraordinary talents and discovered ones you had no idea you had. You stretched, you grew. You experienced pain and fear and failure. You experienced a wide range of emotions. You left it all out there. You did not live for other people. You did not live a tiny life with your entire goal that of being Saving Face but hating the one staring back at you in the mirror every morning and every evening. You lived your life to see that face, bruised and bloodied, grey with fatigue, puffy from crying, incandescent with your joy, knowing that it had given it’s ALL that day and to be proud of it.
Go Slay Dahlings. Your face looks perfectly lovely.