I had a dream last night that the second word Lady A learned was "donut." At 10 months old, "dada" won the number one spot. In the dream, I was ashamed and afraid people would think I had an unhealthy donut eating obsession that taught her the word. So, I told everyone in earshot of her "donut" word that I wasn't sure where she learned that word. "We really don't eat that many donuts," I said to random strangers in my dream.
That was my dream: Lady A saying "donut" and me saving our reputation as somewhat healthy eaters. Clearly, that's a reputation worth stressing over, somewhere behind "I wish I read more" and "I exercise regularlyish."
I usually don't remember my dreams, so it's funny I remembered this one or maybe really telling as to what I value. Dream or not, in reality, I secretly care what people think about me. Ok, not so secret. In real life, not just in donut dreams, I care way too much what people think of me. I want to make social media posts, but I stop myself because...am I vain? would people care? why do I want to share this? Am I just looking for attention? is this funny enough?
The truth is no one really cares about my donut consumption. BUT, like in this dream, me thinking someone cares (particularly strangers!) is ruining memory making moments.
We get caught up in wondering how our actions will be perceived by everyone else and we stop enjoying or even fully living our life. Instead of celebrating our child's "donut" words (and what an amazing second word that would have been!!) we worry what others will think.
(I shall call this the donut word problem.) Reputations are important, but relationships are even better. Margaret Mitchell said “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”
What am I afraid of? I'm not even sure. What are you afraid of?
I'm not saying throw away your reputation for something stupid, but do have the courage to throw it away when actual living and real relationships are on the line. And here's a secret, if done correctly, you aren't actually throwing your reputation away, you're throwing your ego and pride away. They are the ones who stand to lose the most when you stop caring so much about what others think of you.
In my dream, I missed out on celebrating my daughter's amazing milestone (DONUT people, she said DONUT). What have I missed out on in real life? A lot. In the not so distant past, I didn't want to go out or be in a picture or enjoy my evening because I didn't look the way I was supposed to. I didn't realize at the time that no one cared about my weight or appearance the way I did. No one! It was a strange invisible bossy voice in my head making me stay home. It whispered terrible things about shame and fat and laziness and never enoughness. The voice won a lot. I missed out on a lot of "donut word" moments in my life. I was afraid someone would think terrible things about me. I should have sat myself down and tried to name all the people I was trying to impress. No one worth surrounding myself would care.
Turns out, I was the only one that cared. That bossy voice was just an ugly form of pride inside of me. It comes in all forms.
Pride can be seen in more than just appearance but in mommying abilities and business running and for me even in the artwork I make. I have painted over artwork and left so many pieces half finished because the ugly voice in my head told me I was crap. It's counterintuitive to think belittling yourself is a form of pride, but it's a form of self-consumption. You become consumed with yourself and sometimes have the audacity to think everyone else cares about stupid stuff about you.
The next time you feel you need to justify your actions to strangers, ignore a relationship or invitation, avoid pursuing a passion...remember this article and ask yourself...is this a donut word problem? If it is. Chill out. Be kind to yourself. Plus, no one cares. Because do you really care about my donut consumption? No. Be courageous and see how resilient your reputation actually is. It can handle a lot of donut word problems. Believe it or not your reputation may even improve because people will see you are genuine and honest and you don't give a hoot or a holler (as gma would say). Go celebrate your daughter...or whatever it is you do. And stop apologizing for donut words. Live your life.
And that was a pep talk to myself! : )