Week 49: Editing myself

I don’t care what people think.

Of course, I have my moments, but for the most part, I don’t let the judgments of others or the pressures of fashion or the influences of society tell me what to do. I dress the way I feel comfortable and confident, I only wear makeup when I feel like it, I don bright colors because I like them. I talk and laugh a little too loudly, I say most of what’s on my mind, I sing when I feel like singing and I dance when I feel like dancing.

Don’t take that to mean I don’t care how others feel. That’s not it at all. In fact, I make great effort to care about and take care of the feelings of those I love. But having now lived for a year and a half in a place where appearances and judgments are paramount, I am very much aware of how much I live my life for me.

It’s liberating, really. It makes life more free and more fun. If I want to leave the house in sweatpants, I do. If I want to wear shorts when everyone else is wearing sweaters (and it’s 77 degrees), I do. I try to live my life like the little kids running because it’s fun, laughing at the world, saying what they think and dancing like fools because why not?

I do what I want. I don’t waste my energy worrying about the judgments and perceptions of all those people I don’t know. Their opinions do not matter. And I can say that because, thank goodness, the people I do know seem to like me. My friends and family seem to embrace my independence and weirdness and unfilteredness. Thank goodness, because otherwise I’d be alone and would have to rethink some things.

But as things are, I know very quickly after meeting someone whether we are going to be friends — because I kind of lay it all out on the line. I embody the phrase “what you see is what you get.” If you spend one hour with me, you will know what I am about. I’m not editing myself, so you can get a quick read on me, and subsequently, I can get a quick read on you.

The same thing applies to dating. I’m not playing games. I’m not putting on airs. I’m just being myself. Guys should be able to decide pretty quickly if they like me. If they do, awesome, but if they don’t, well, that’s fine too. I let you know who I am, and you can take it or leave it.

Now, this has tripped me up a few times because I forget that not everyone — especially not everyone in L.A. — is genuine. I’ve been deceived by the impressions others give off, the ways they filter themselves or present false fronts. I have been hurt and let down because I put the real me on the line and someone else didn’t. That’s rough.

And that’s the problem I have found with not caring what others think: Everyone once in a while, you actually do.

When you aren’t filtering yourself, you become vulnerable easily. If someone rejects you, she is rejecting the real you. If someone decides he doesn’t want to be your friend or don’t want to date you, there is no running away from the truth: He didn’t like you.

So I have had to work through that. But really, I’ve been pretty darn fortunate. The majority of the time, I put my ridiculous self out there, and people somehow seem to think I am pretty OK. Thus, the cycle of my being ridiculous continues.

That said, I have realized something: There are a few people with whom I often feel like I can’t be myself, by whom I feel judged and around whom I feel the need to filter. It’s unhealthy and it’s unfair, but those individuals are in my family. I guess even though they are stuck with me, they don’t have to like me and maybe wouldn’t choose to be my friends if we weren’t related.

Point being, when I am with these few, I find myself on edge, not knowing what to say, trying to act differently, worrying about how I am being perceived or judged. It’s difficult, and it’s exhausting, and it’s vulnerable, and it’s just not fun.

So this year, I am making a promise to myself: I am not going to let that happen. I am not going to let those who don’t like me matter more to my sense of myself than those who do. I am going to remind myself that I am a good person, a fun person, a valuable person, a deserving person, a loved person — and that’s my real self I am talking about.

Whenever I start to feel down about me, I am going to remember all the times I met someone and just threw myself out there, and then he or she became one of my best friends. I am going to remember the people who build me up, and I am going to make sure their voices outweigh the ones bringing me down and making me feel less than.

If L.A. has taught me one thing, it’s that despite everyone and everything suggesting otherwise, I don’t have to change. I am more than good enough just the way I am.

Endnotes:

Currently reading: A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson (still)

Currently watching: Parks and Recreation, season 2

Song of the week: Tatiana Manaois’ “Choose”

Plans for the weekend: Baking cookies, going to yoga and seeing friends in L.A. before I head home for the holidays!

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