Standing on the Periphery of the Freedom to Just Be
I began writing this post yesterday, and then was so excited when I saw tonight’s topic for Return of the Modern Philosopher’s Friday Night Think Tank: Freedom Edition. I went ahead and changed into my toga so that I could participate in true form. Here is my answer to the Modern Philosopher’s question for the evening:I have to say that I am a little socially awkward. I have stuck my foot in my mouth so many times over the years that my toes look like prunes. I have always been this way, and have worked hard in adulthood to overcome my introversion, awkwardness, and shyness, but I still tend strongly in this direction. I just can’t get comfortable. I can be quite witty and make people laugh, but when I’m nervous, my good intentioned remarks sometimes come out in a way that I didn’t intend. I have tried to counter this by replacing my wit with kindness.
My parents took film of many birthday parties and Christmas celebrations while I was growing up, and I am always the one standing over to the side, just watching. My mouth is usually open, and I am smiling like some kind of crazed French Bulldog, looking as if I want to join the fun, but mostly I don’t. It’s hard to tell myself to not try to be funny, but just be nice. I want to participate in whatever is going on – just get right there in the middle – but at times, I feel like an intruder when I do this.
The one situation in which I can control this awkwardness is when I am in a role. When I am playing hostess, I am gracious and attentive. At work with a job at hand, I fall into my Type-A tendencies very easily, and won’t hesitate to make suggestions, do more research for an answer, and provide my expertise and advice on how to handle a particular situation. In the office setting, I generally take my cues from those in attendance who are superior to me. If they are quiet, I am quiet. If they are joking, I laugh and joke along, respectfully, of course.
I have recently begun to try to release the hold that fear often has on my life. I have tried to give myself the freedom to practice at becoming a writer – hence the blog. After starting my blog, I got brave enough to work as a freelance writer over the internet. I haven’t written anything earth-shattering for pay, but managed to get a few bills paid. I do, however, have content with my by-line, and have a little something for my resume, should the time ever come when I can make a career of this thing that has been a hobby so far.
It has been painful putting myself out there. For a while, I posted my blog posts to my Facebook account, but after failing to get much response, made my blog its own Facebook page. I invited my friends to like it – some did. This is part of claiming my own freedom. I have always had it, but was too timid to reach out to see what I might be able to find. In the process, I realized (once again, because don’t we have realizations throughout our lives?) that everyone starts somewhere. As long as someone would give me a chance and I did a good job, then the next job could always be more promising.
Everyone who does this type of work has to put themselves out there. And people usually love to help someone out who has chosen a similar profession – advice, tips, contacts. I guess each of us also has the chance to either be honest, or have a facade. I have tried to set the fake stuff aside and be as genuine as I can. Yes, I have risked letting people know what a goof I am, and some of my deep, dark feelings (which sometimes I don’t want to know about myself), but I am tired of being afraid of what others will see. If they reject my honesty, then I have to just live with that. After all, it could be about them, and not about me at all.
I doubt that I could have done this in my twenties. I have more confidence than I did way back when, but I have also learned that if someone else can do something, then I can probably do it too. I have a pair of thirteen-foot-tall curtains in my dining room that will testify to the fact that a determined person can do just about anything if they apply themselves. I am certainly less afraid of failing than I once was. Every year that makes itself into my past drives me forward knowing that the time to do what I want to do, and be who I want to be is now. I can’t afford to wait any longer, because that day may never come. Still, becoming free is a process of peeling away all this stuff that is bogging me down. Even a piece of fruit needs to be ripened before it can be peeled. When the time is right, I will be unencumbered and free.