All my life, I’ve had this fear in the back of my mind.
I’ve struggled with it, made my peace with it, and then looped back to wrestling with it once again.
I don’t know if I’m normal or if I’m different, but I’ve always been afraid of people knowing this about me. So, of course, the rational thing to do is to post a blog about it on the internet where it will remain forever. Brilliant.
And so, I’m about to reveal a potentially embarrassing fact about myself because I believe that through this you will learn something about you. You might see how you’ve experienced a similar struggle in your life or possibly in your business.
The genesis of this blog post begins when I was on the phone with a dear friend.
It had been months since we’d spoken to one another. She has a one-year-old who, when he was born, experienced some trauma. He spent the first few months of his existence in the hospital. After he was cleared to go home, they have had regular doctors’ visits and in-home therapy sessions. Not to mention all the normal work that goes into raising a human being – sleepless nights, breastfeeding, and endless diaper changing. So, the gaps in between our girl-talk time is completely understandable.
The great thing is that whenever we do talk, we always have amazing “a-ha!” moments together. With she and I, there is no surface level. We always get to the good shit. We share recent realizations, struggles, and all parts of our introspective journey on this road of life.
It’s rare to find someone who matches on such an intellectual, spiritual, and inquisitive level. That’s why I cherish her and our conversations.
On our last call, we somehow veered into a discussion about friendships. And that’s when I shared my dirty little secret.
Ok, here it goes…
I don’t have a lot of friends.
I’ve just never been that person who has a large circle of friends. I can count the number of people who I truly call “friend” on one hand (and maybe not even use all the fingers).
This is something that I’ve been embarrassed about.
I remember watching Sex and the City and thinking, “Wow. It sure looks nice for 4 women to regularly hang out, support each other, and all consider each other friends.”
I’ve never had that. My close friends are often from different parts of my life and they rarely, if ever, have met each other.
I’ve tried to mimic the behaviors of uber-social people, and it just hasn’t worked out for me.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt like if people were to know this about me, they’d think that I’m strange. That something is wrong with me. (And, who knows, maybe I am and maybe there is.)
But here is where the interesting “a-ha!” came from…
When I look at my friendships, I’m happy to have them, even if they are few in numbers.
I am at peace with my very few but very meaningful relationships.
The only time I question and feel guilty is when I guess how others would judge me for the lack of quantity.
Allow me to break that down further…
I’m happy and content with how things are. However, I become afraid and ashamed when I evaluate it through the eyes of “someone” who would possibly be judging the same thing that I was perfectly happy with only moments ago.
So, it’s not that I’m uncomfortable with my choices.
Instead, I’m uncomfortable with how I think someone else might be uncomfortable with my choices.
And isn’t this what we do to ourselves all the time?!
We question our decisions and desires NOT based on our internal compass, but rather on the perceived compass of the pretend people in our minds!
What would happen if you chose to be happy with your choices?
If you are constantly second guessing your true desires, you’re training your brain to never trust yourself. You’ll never be able to look inward, acknowledge what you want, and take action because you’re brain will automatically trigger the thought“Well, what would your mother think of that?” OR “Won’t your colleagues think that that’s stupid?” OR “That’s not what everyone else does.”
And once that pattern has traction, how can you expect to tap into your creativity? How can you possibly find flow?
You’ve created an obstacle course for your thoughts to zigzag through before they ever even reach the surface.
I see this, especially in the entrepreneurial space. So many fantastic people with brilliant gifts and ideas halt their efforts because they start looking at the idea with their “what would people think” filter.
The inspiration is empowered, the execution is hindered.
Look, I get it. I’m not sure if it’s completely possible to halt the notion of “what would people think” full stop. Maybe there are some highly enlightened monks in the Himalayas who have accomplished it, but I’m choosing to not live my life in the Himalayas.
It doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t recognize it and control it.
I think that to take a hold of the reins of these limiting thoughts, it boils down to two things…
1. To thine own self be true.
Damn that Shakespeare dude sure was smart.
Trust yourself. Trust that you are a good person. Trust that you are worthy of your wacky ideas. Trust that you have the best of intentions. Trust that if something works for you it doesn’t mean that it has to work for everyone else. Trust that if something works for someone else, you’re not a scum-sucking worthless human being if it doesn’t work for you. It just means that you’re different. You have different needs, criteria, and goals. Trust that you are always doing the best with what you have at the time.
2. Serve the goal, not the gawker.
Your life is not a spectator sport for others. You are not an animal in a zoo with people walking by the plexiglass pointing and staring. You are a creator! You are an energetic force to be reckoned with. Your actions and decisions shape the world around you.
So, you must always serve your goal. Your choices must be aligned with who you are and what you want to accomplish. If you shift that for the appeasement of some spectator who has little to do with your life in the first place, then even if you accomplish what you set out for, you won’t enjoy it in the same way. You have shaped yourself into them, instead of creating your own version of you. An original masterpiece will always be worth more than a forgery.
When I looked at my friendships, I asked myself, “What is it that I want?” Answer: I want quality friends who I can completely be myself with. I want friends who will be there for me in times of crisis, and I would do the same. I want friends who I connect with on multiple levels. Not multiple friends I connect with on one level.
When I remove the faceless, hypothetical person who might judge me for my small pool of friends, I’m totally fine with my choices. In fact, I’m proud of them. So, why would I incorporate that pretend judge in my equation for happiness?
It wouldn’t make sense. So, don’t do it. Trust yourself and align your choices with who you are and what you want to accomplish. In other words, you do you, boo.
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