“Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts –your arrogance, your spite, your condescension– has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them. “Hello, it’s Mr. Nasty.”
That was me a few weeks ago, “Mr. Nasty.”
I could speculate why I became this worst version of myself.
It could have been because I was having some challenges with my teenage daughter.
It could have been it was finally hitting me that my dad had died.
It could have been the horrible events that were happening in the world that week that triggered my fragile emotions (the hateful Charlottesville rallies, threats from North Korea, etc.).
My guess is it was a perfect storm of all those things. Nevertheless, for the first time, this life-long “people pleaser” went on a rampage, both in real life and on social media.
I stated exactly what I thought, when I thought it, and I didn’t sugar coat anything. Instead of walking away from arguments, I engaged in them. Sometimes I even encouraged them. I did not respect other’s opinions because I was too busy defending my own.
I wish I could say my behavior came from a place of empowerment and self-esteem. But the truth is my actions were fueled by fatigue, anger, and sadness.
I wish I could say there weren’t any ramifications for my behavior and that people respected my honesty. But the truth is, I lost some friends and family along the way (especially when expressing my political views).
I wish I could say I didn’t feel guilty afterwards and that this new attitude emboldened me. That didn’t happen either. Guilt and shame inevitably followed.
The thought of acting that way in the past would have never occurred to me. I would avoid putting myself in such a vulnerable situation at all costs. I would tell people exactly what they wanted to hear. I would agree with people because if I didn’t, they wouldn’t like me. I let my fear of conflict and criticism dictate how I acted around people, and as a result I often ended up feeling resentful.
Since those few weeks, I have had time to step back from the situation and assess it and piece together the good and bad from the experience.
The good was that I was able to detach from the opinions and expectations of those people around me. The bad was that I could and should have done it in a much kinder, more gentler way.
I see now how speaking my mind could be a great thing for me. I see that if I stop catering to others’ thoughts and opinions of me in a calm and respectful way, I experience a certain kind of freedom. There is another quote from “You’ve Got Mail” that states—
“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life. Well, valuable, but small. And sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave?”
So I ask myself, do I say things and agree with people because I like it or because I haven’t been brave?
Making a concerted effort to stop giving a damn is a skill that takes lots of practice, and I hope I get better at it. I had a rocky first attempt, but now that I’m more rested, more centered, and have the benefit of hindsight, I intend to get better at it. I intend to be brave.