Written by: Lisa Listwa
Blogger at: The Meaning of Me
Not too long ago, a friend told me I was brave.
I think the word she said was brave… she admired my chutzpah in posting my whole and actual weight in a group setting focused on lessening our overall gravitational pull.
The compliment did not set well with me. What she couldn’t have known is that mere seconds before I saw her message, I clicked off my own desperate and panicked message to the group moderator asking him to please and immediately pull the image of my whole and actual weight. Here, use this partial one instead, I asked. Because no one wants to know I don’t want anyone to know what I really weigh.
And then I started to think about it… Why is it that I am so embarrassed to put my real weight out there? Is it because someone might think I’m overweight? Here’s a newsflash: I am. Is it because I’m somehow keeping it a secret? Like no one can tell that just by looking? Well, hey, this is the Internet after all…as far as you’re concerned; I look however I tell you I look.
But I can’t play that game. I’m a terrible liar – always have been. As my Mother used to say, lying is a dangerous game and far too complicated because you always have to remember which version of the lie you told to whom and make sure you tell it again. That’s just way too hard. I really do not have a desire to lie or embellish or otherwise falsify anything about me. But for some reason I sometimes find it difficult to step up and own who I really am.
And that admission is what really got me thinking…it’s not just about weight. The question might be about weight or health or what job I do or don’t have right now. When I thought back over different inquiries and circumstances, I realized just how often I wasn’t able to confidently give a straight answer. I realized I was afraid of being judged.
Let’s talk poetry for a second – Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Now here’s a woman who fought to come to terms with who she really was and how much that persona did not fit society’s idea of who she was expected to be. See? The whole societal image vs. real image debate? Nothing new.
Dickinson preferred to be herself. And that Self was quiet, introverted, highly emotional, not terribly interested in society’s expectations of her or the proscribed path her life should take. She (and her poetry) was unorthodox; she was different. By all popular standards, she was nobody.
She talks about this in one of her best-known poems –
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us–don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
We could talk for a very long time about what she has to say here, but let’s cut right to the chase. Dickinson clearly delights in her “nobody” status. You see, to be “somebody” means to conform to societal expectations, to be correct and accepted by the popular masses – and that is anything but what Dickinson desired. She thrived on her uniqueness, on the things that made her different and special and perhaps misunderstood. She accepted her Real.
And so should we all. The difference between me and Emily Dickinson? Well, she seems to have accepted herself completely, embraced the person she actually was in her most real and honest moments, not the person she – or anyone else – believed she “should” be.
That’s a dangerous word, isn’t it? Should…
I should be thinner…
I should have more money…
I should be applying for certain kinds of jobs…
I should have stayed at the job I hated because the pay was decent…
I should be less irritable with my child…
I should a clean house and clean laundry…
I should be nicer to my spouse…
Another friend tells me often that there are no “shoulds” in life. She’s right. There is only reality. Focusing on what we “should” be or do only emphasizes what we are not; it suggests that whatever we are is somehow not good enough.
So I guess on that day when my friend told me I was brave, I decided that it was time to actually be brave. It was time to step up on the stage, speak the truth, and accept who and where I am right now in life. Because it is good enough.
I am cruising rapidly into middle-age. I am indeed overweight. I am a woman who loves good food (and perhaps not-so-good-food) and I enjoy sharing it with family and friends. I enjoy Margaritas and a good glass of Scotch every now and then. I am a woman who does not like to exercise. I am a person who lives with managing chronic pain. I am a good mother/wife/daughter/sister/friend. I am a person who can be quite irritable. I am funny. I am kinder and more sensitive than I will ever let you know. And I am a woman who would rather do pretty much anything than clean my house.
Would I like to change some of those things? Sure. But it’s time to stop living in the future, waiting to buy a cool pair of jeans because I’m embarrassed to buy that size. Self-improvement in any form is a wonderful thing. But living solely for the day when I’ll be something better or different? That is a waste of time and I don’t have time to waste.
This is me. This is my reality.
Author Bio – Lisa A. Listwa
Lisa is a wife, mother, and self-employed recovering high school English teacher. She works as a freelance writer, editor, and tutor.
Lisa lives with her husband, her daughter, and three Rotten Cats. She spends her time stacking the pile of books to read ever higher, wondering if she should have been a chef, and trying to figure out where she last left her damn cell phone.
Lisa writes about life and all its fascinations and banalities at her blog, the The Meaning of Me. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
The Meaning of Me – http://www.themeaningofme.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Meaning-of-Me/1549497105318801
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LisaMeaningofMe