After reading John’s blog You Really Ought to Shut Up I was reminded of a time very long ago when I just got tired of myself. I got tired of my voice, of the negative self-talk, of the drama that I would create in my own mind about everything and everyone around me. I never felt good enough I always felt like I didn’t fit in. My life really seemed to suck.
In my own defense I was about 15 years old and was probably no more self-absorbed than anyone else in my age group but it really felt like the world was out to get me.
One day I had just had enough and I was tired of feeling the way I did and was confused about why I felt the way I did and so I decided to conduct a little experiment. I decided to become invisible. I decided I would pretend that I didn’t exist and try for once in my life to actually see how other people acted and re-acted without me in the picture. To basically “shut up” that inner voice inside my head that refused to let me believe that I was as ok as everyone else out there.
It started slowly.. I would softly and quietly fade into the background in social situations. I would not comment on things or express opinions (as much as was possible for someone like me). I would dress in a non-visible way.. in things that would not catch the eye of anyone.
I stopped talking myself into frenzies or in disrespecting ways. What began to happen was that in my quietness I began to listen more, observe more, take in more and also I began to realize just a little more about what was really going on in my world. Things I should have been noticing before, listening to before and acknowledging more before.
First thing I realized was that SOOOOOO many people sort of felt bad about something about themselves or wanted to change something about themselves. Everyone had insecurities, dysfunctions, obsessions and possibly a multitude of other discrepancies that never shown themselves as blazingly as mine and yet they were O.K. I wouldn’t have even noticed the problems of others if I hadn’t become invisible enough to see them.
I began to see that when a person made a mistake or embarrassed themselves people would notice more often than not but would get over it in an amazingly short amount of time. NO ONE focused on the problems of others or the mistakes of others as much as the person themself did.
It dawned on me that NO ONE even remembered the time 5 years before when I tripped down a set of stairs and bit through my lip while at the same time dropping a tray of food I had been carrying which ended up spilling all over this very nice lady and ruining her dress. NO ONE. NOT ONE. No one could recall the time I was giving a presentation in class and through nervousness burped and slightly farted at the same time. I felt I could never live THAT one down. The only time anyone even thought about it is when I brought it up.
My invisibility increased and slowly I began to realize that I was actually a decent person, or at least no worse than anyone else and without all of my personal insecurities and hang-ups people actually seemed to like me. I was O.K. I began to be less concerned with how others perceived me and slowly began to realize that my social awkwardness, misunderstanding of gravity and lack of coordination were just a part of who I was. I had other “mad” skills in many other areas. Still, this was not an instant recovery, it took years. Even now I sometimes just have to tell myself:
At some point in my life, either through raising children or teaching, I happened on a children’s book who’s primary character was a penguin named Tacky.
Tacky is an odd bird who marches to the beat of his own drummer. He’s socially awkward, clumsy and eccentric. He never actually fits in anywhere but he’s oblivious to that fact. I like Tacky.
Some examples of Tacky’s situations:
Tacky, the penguin, and his friends, perform a play for the little penguins in Mrs. Beakly’s class, but with Tacky in the lead role, things do not go exactly as planned.
Tacky and his fellow penguins on Team Nice Icy Land train hard for the Winter Games, but Tacky’s antics make their chances of winning a medal seem slim.
Tacky the penguin and his friends go to Camp Whoopihaha, where they scare each other by telling ghost stories around the campfire, never expecting that one of the frightening stories will come true.
The great thing is.. in every situation.. everything works out and usually Tacky becomes even more loved or at least more tolerated.
I wish I had known of Tacky when I was a bit younger. Now that I am closer to 50 than to 40, my eccentricities (craziness), clumsiness and social awkwardness seem to be a little more accepted by others or maybe just more accepted by myself. I personally wish there were more Tacky’s in the world. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think there are.
“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein