Yes, that’s a Bieber song lyric. I’m sorry, but it’s relevant, I promise. Please bear with me…
My son loves Justin Bieber. He says that Bieber has a nice voice, and more importantly, he says he can sing with him, that he sings “the right notes for me, you know?”. (Yes, he said that, he’s got more musical talent at age 5 than I will have in my whole life combined). Anyway, the point isn’t that he likes Justin Bieber but that he doesn’t care if that is cool or uncool. He doesn’t think twice about singing in front of anyone – the kid sings while driving his Thomas trains around a track, while building his new lego set, while walking out the door to school. He is young and naive and just does what makes him feel good – which, in this case, is signing pop song lyrics, often incorrectly, often loudly, and never with a single thought about what others might think of him. It is amazing and inspiring.
So here’s my question – when did we stupid adults lose our way?! When did we decide to care what others thought about us? When did we stop doing what made us happy because of other people? I know, I know. Society. Media. Peer pressure. Conformity. Blah blah blah. You know what? I LOVE to sing in the car. I love it. I’m loud and get the lyrics wrong as much as my kids and I’m usually off-key (my range is whatever no-range-at-all is technically called), but it makes me really happy. Like joyful heart happy. But I generally don’t do it because I feel silly, I worry about what the other drivers will think. Yes, you read that correctly. I stopped doing something that makes me happy, that hurts absolutely no one, that is a free mood booster, because I worry about what total strangers may think of me. What the actual fuck?!? That is so stupid! Who cares what some random person, who I will likely never see again in my life, thinks of me?! Hell, maybe I’d give them a good laugh or at least a little smile. I’d say they probably wouldn’t notice, but, well, people notice my car singing, it’s hard not to notice. But…WHO CARES!?!
I used to not care. Or at least not very much. Obviously we all care to some extent…culture and societal norms and all exist for a reason and sometimes they are a good thing (covering our genitalia comes to mind, I’m thankfully we all agree to do that). I am a loud person. Always have been. I’m THAT person in the movie theater…if it’s funny, you can hear me laughing; if it’s scary, you better believe I will scream. And damn if I don’t enjoy movies and all the emotions! Pure happiness. I can get sucked into any movie in less than five minutes. When I was younger, I sort of did what made me happy, but as I hit real adulthood and settled down and became a wife and mother and moved and had to make new friends…I edited myself more. I toned it down. I didn’t laugh as loud in the movie and I tried hard not to scream out when the bad guy appeared. I had second thoughts about some of my “eccentricities” (which is a nice way to say things that make me me but may annoy the hell out of other people). I curbed some of my comments, I stopped dropping so many F-bombs (and let me tell you, I love a well placed F-bomb), I tried not to snort when I laughed. And you know what? My happiness toned down too. Why?! Why did I do this?! And I don’t think I’m at all alone in this…WHY DO WE DO THIS!???!?
The good news is, you can recover. I’m in the process. Because I realized, besides not being quite so happy, another downside of this was that I had made a lot of “friends” who maybe didn’t really even know the real me. That’s not to say they aren’t friends or nice people or even people that I love to be around. But I realized some of them didn’t even really know me. They knew a more neutral, calm version. As I’ve hit my mid-thirties (which I love saying! Truly!), I’ve said “Fuck it. I’m done. I’m done pretending or toning myself down. This is me.” And as I’ve let myself be ME, let my loud out again, I’ve really found my people. People with whom I can let down my guard and laugh loudly…and they don’t judge me. Even better, they laugh right along with me, maybe just as loud. I’ve found my sisters, the moms and professionals who can drop as many “fucks” as me and don’t bat an eye when I go on a little tirade about something (I’m passionate, what can I say). They are my people and I’ve found them by dropping my guard and just being myself.
I always like to say I may not be everyone’s cup of tea…some people don’t even like tea. And that is just fine. Thank god for variety. I don’t need everyone to be my best friend. I don’t need every car to pass me and think “look at that level-headed, CALM, upstanding citizen”. I’d rather sing, badly, at the top of my lungs and enjoy myself, even if that means someone passes me and thinks “she is a total nutcase”. The world needs loud, bad singers…makes other people feel better about themselves. 🙂 It’s liberating and it’s real and I am learning to love myself again and I’m happy! (uh, thanks, Bieber?)