Here is a picture completely unrelated to what I am writing about today.
Cute boy enjoying the outdoors while his mama chases around him with a camera. Now on with our regularly scheduled programing…
I was a very timid teenager and young adult. Shocking, I know :) There are a lot of different ways to be timid, but for me I was constantly self-conscious, and worried about what everyone thought of me. I was bound by the chains of my own self-absorption.
When most people think of someone who is “self-absorbed” they think of a pampered princess who thinks of nothing of what they are wearing and how they look. Some people certainly fall under that category, but I didn’t. I was a different kind of self-absorbed. I was paralyzed with the fear of negative or unwanted attention. I wanted to be noticed and praised, but not bullied and ridiculed. In an attempt to stem the tide of rising aggression and ridicule from my peers I melted into the background. I would rather be unnoticed than picked on.
So every action and every word was contemplated through the filter questions of “will people notice me? And will they think better of me for it?” More often than not, the time for action would have passed before I was able to answer that question. I got used to being a wallflower and ignored. Lonely. Sad.
All because I thought too much of what other people thought of me.
Fast forward a few years and I became a young mother. A mother of young children that I eventually decided to homeschool. Well, you can’t blend into the background when you live a lifestyle that is so against the grain. As a matter of necessity my mindset changed to one of just not caring what other people thought… or at least on the surface. I “didn’t care” that people thought homeschooling was weird. I “didn’t care” that people thought our family was too big. I “didn’t care” that I was 30 pounds heavier than I wanted to be.
Of course I cared… but rather than fading into oblivion as I did in high school, I struck a somewhat defensive pose. I wore my differences with pride. This actually helped me gain a bit of notoriety. I blogged about my newfound love for education, politics, and critical thought. I wrote long articles laced with sarcasm and was utterly delighted with the online response. I branched out into different subjects, all the while “not caring” about what people thought.
But I did. I cared a great deal and the amount of time I spent checking my email, checking how many people liked my Facebook page, and my SEO stats online proved it.
I was no longer a wallflower but I was still very self-absorbed.
Then one day I noticed that I spent more time checking on my stats and writing about my thoughts and experiences than actually HAVING those new thoughts and experiences that I enjoyed writing about.
Something was wrong very with that picture. As I sat there pondering how to stop that destructive cycle, I had a thought that I had never had before. A thought that, in spite of it’s negative sound, was incredibly liberating in it’s timing.
I am just not that important.
No one cares about my weight. No one cares about how I look with my new haircut. No one cares about our family size or school choices. Well, at least no one who doesn’t have direct influence over my family’s life.
I’d like to think that a few of you read and enjoy my very long posts about homeschool, politics, education, literature, etc… and I’d like to think that I’ve helped a few of you become more confident and secure in your family/homeschool choices, helped you tackle some things that may have scared you in the past, helped you more easily understand some issues that our country is facing, or (if you happen to disagree with my conclusions) help you understand the thought process of those on the other side. And if that is the case, I’m SO happy I was able to be a part of your life in some small way.
But in all honesty, if I were never to write another post again only my father would care. No one would notice, no one would miss me… I’m just not that important.
I know that sounds like I’m throwing myself a pity party, but I’m saying it with the force of William Wallace saying “FREEDOM!”
And don’t worry, I have no plans to stop blogging anytime soon. I enjoy writing about things that I am passionate about far too much to stop.
I just wanted to share with you the liberating feeling that comes when you start to shake off the chains of particular brand of self-absorption that I am so familiar with. I’m still prideful. I still think about what other people think far too much, but I’m starting to realize that my place in the world is ever so much smaller than I originally thought. And that’s a good thing.
I saw this meme on Facebook yesterday and thought how appropriate and true it was. I am trying as hard as I can to realize that last part before I’m 60 so that I can really live my own life instead of the life I think others expect me to live.