16 September 2018

Mistakes are necessary. Whether or not what I did qualifies as a mistake is what I am wrapped up in. I suppose it is better to say that you don't know what will offend someone until you try. And sometimes, the best lessons come from offending someone, because then at least you can begin to form an opinion based on experience.

I took a photo yesterday of someone. And, while I was doing it, it offended a few people. I know this because they were vocal about it. The incredible part is that my brain had not even taken the opinions of others into account. In the moment, I was blissfully snapping shots, completely unaware of the possible implications. That is why my brain is so obsessed with the incident. It is thinking, "you could have avoided the embarrassment if you would have only thought about it, you dope. So, now I will punish you by obsessing over it, so that it will never happen to you again."

But, public humiliation will always happen to someone like me - because I don't want to spend every moment contemplating if I am going to be offending someone. My brain, on the other hand, didn't enjoy it. It wants to prevent it from happening again, and is telling me how bad I am, over and over again, until the lesson is so ingrained that the brain feels protected. Which is something it can never be.

I know this, because I spent years punishing myself for what I thought I lacked, or was poor at. And, it didn't protect me at all. Instead, it made me even more susceptible to criticism - both internal and external. My brain is saying, "remember all those years? And you still are ignorant. You will always be ignorant, you will never fit in, you will always be looked at negatively, they are not your friends for a reason." My previous response would be to stop everything.

Stop creating, stop trying, stop sharing. All my interests fell away for fear of embarrassment. Passive and small. But, I know now that they are wrong. They may disagree, but that is opinion, and it may even be public opinion, but each day is proof that even a widely held belief isn't truth. Instead of shying from criticism, I must view negative attention as evidence that I am trying, creating, exploring. And that is a courageous, and necessary aspect of life.

Authority isn't always dressed in uniform, or easy to identify. But, if you question everything, authority will make itself known. Then question more. Toes will be stepped on, and friends will be lost, but it is better to be surround by those who boost you, and not those who insist that you conform. I am no longer here to please, as I thought I once was. And while the transition will be uncomfortable, it is wildly more interesting of a life.