I am a remarkable human being, but I am no longer interested in allowing that to be the barometer by which I measure my sense of self-worth or joy. The idea that we must be these perfectly efficient, dynamic, palatable beings at all times is a scam and I won’t be putting my cognitive energy into this psychic racketeering job anymore.
A friend of mine asked me the other night, “What are your plans?” I started to tell him about the business initiatives I was working on, about my charity work and about my studies. He stopped me and said: “No, but what are your plans? From one friend to another. What is it that you really want?”
I felt a little bit manhandled by the question, because of forced me to take a look at myself beneath all of the things I force myself to do every day in order to escape the sense that, without a slew of never ending pursuits and accomplishments, I am somehow a failure; I am somehow doomed. But, as I quickly recovered from the off-putting probe, I realized that what I want most for myself is to be happy. The doom isn’t the failure or the pause—the doom is the treadmill itself.
A few mornings ago, I woke up on a Sunday and realized for the first time that I did not feel a sense of impending doom—and I did not fear for the chaos of the upcoming week. I did not think about what shame I would feel for not being in the right relationship, for some partner of mine not honoring me like I feared other people would think that they should, for not embodying a series of elusive, ever-changing characteristics that people might think I should.
I did not think about how something I might have said or tweeted or posted to some social site might have put someone off or lowered me in their estimation. Whether I was joking or speaking from a place of truth—whether it was palatable or not to every person with eyes on me in our agreed-upon spaces of social surveillance—ultimate I had to ask: who cares? I don’t live my life to be consumed. I don’t go through this shit for ratings. I am just here, alive, doing what I have to do just like everyone else… and trying my best to make that bearable. Joyful, even.
I will not negotiate with anybody about what I am or am not worth. I will not debate with anybody about my tone, or my words, or whether I am too much or too little. I will not shrink or delete elements of myself to suit people. I will not deal in good faith with a system that refuses to do the same for me, nor will I will extoll the virtues of a suite of institutions that seek to denigrate me while relying on my sweat. I will not put my soul up on the auction block to be claimed for an unfair price—my ancestors sacrificed entirely too much for me to repeat the agonies of the history that runs in my blood.
As I navigate my life further, I am setting an intention to say “yes” to peace and joy. I am saying “yes” to owning who and what I am and finding intrinsic value in that without the need for external validation based on institutions and accolades that are ultimately fictitious compared to the truth of the essential self. What I will do is live to experience this life. I will love and nourish myself and others. I will work to respect my time and peace—which are far more valuable to me than being a person who is “remarkable” on paper.
I do not require external validation; I know exactly who and what I am. The facts of my being cannot be negotiated or taken away.
The same things are true for you.