In our own eyes

When you close your eyes and picture, unabashed, who you feel you could or should be if you were unencumbered by “reality”, what do you see? Do you feel shy admitting what’s behind those eyelids? Admitting your faith? Do you see things that you think nobody else would?

Some of us were taught from a very young age to be humble and, far worse, ashamed of being proud. We’re spoon fed the whole “Believe in yourself!” ethos and yet we are also taught that self-love sits uncomfortably close to flagrant narcissism. Why do some doses of self confidence fall acceptably in the empowerment camp while others are shunned as squatting in the deluded vanity camp? Why is it acceptable to publicly state that you’re fun but not that you’re intelligent? Totally cool to note you’re good with a ruler, but everyone gets a little edgy if you profess that you think you’re good with words. Bad examples aside, it strikes me that we all seem to share the worry that if we believe something about ourselves that others can’t see, that we’ve made ourselves the fool. We are told that our internal metrics don’t matter as much as the external ones.

I’m so tired of fearing being the fool. It has plagued me.

But as I sometimes say to my son…let’s unpack the onion of fear. Peel off each layer…each perfectly protective layer of fear. One at a time. What happens when you face that layer? And then the next? At the end of the day, what is ground zero when your worst fear is staring you in the face? If being the fool is my ground zero, what happens if, worse case scenario, I’m standing naked and alone on a highway being mocked for the things I believe in about myself?

I hope I’ll stand there, close my eyes, wonder what I got wrong and smile at what I know I got right. And I’ll hope that I was having some fun while doing whatever I was doing, driven by whatever faith was driving it.

At the center of our onion is nothing but ourselves. Just us. A blessed nobody. The truth is, if anyone stops to look at me naked and muddy and ugly on that dusty road, they’ll lose interest eventually and look away as quick as they turned to laugh. Because they’ll get back to thinking about their own damn self. Humans are like squirrels. As soon as they’ve stolen a nut they run back to their own tree to bury it. Then they move on to the next little patch of dirt to dig.

So why not spend some time in our mind’s own eye and get cozy?

The fear of believing in yourself enough to leave the tree that you’ve been comfortably collecting nuts under is real. The shame in believing in yourself in a way others wouldn’t is real. But it’s got to be let go of. It is not just a trick of the eye or an illegitimate act when you believe in yourself all on your own doing. It still counts. Just as much, If not more. Like masturbatory climax. It’s just as real. I am not suggesting living by delusional design. I’m suggesting not being afraid to say what you want and what you think you’ve got within you…and then giving it a go. You have a better chance of getting yourself there than waiting for other people to guide your choices through external validation.

If I wind up some sort of a fool…who gives a fuck? Nobody is watching anyway. They’re all just as busy as I am…afraid to take off their masks, kiss their own reflection, and utter aloud what they know and hope to be true…in case they’re wrong. Just in case they’re wrong. God forbid.

Nobody wants to be wrong. Nobody wants to fail. But we are. And we do. Every single bloody day. But if we listen closely enough, we’re also usually right about a fuck lot of things. Every single bloody day.