I’ve been wrestling with this feeling for the past few days, this gritty lump that’s stuck in my craw and refuses to dislodge. I’ve meditated on it, yoga-ed on it, thought on it, frowned on it, yet there it sits, stuck there. Then, driving to work yesterday, it hit me, I’m still insane. Yup, genuinely certifiable. I meet the criteria. I’ve heard it scores of times over the years; you probably have too, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yet here I am, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, and apparently now it’s stuck in my craw.
That’s what I get for thinking I’ve grown; too big for my britches is about all I’ve accomplished. If you want to get the universe’s attention, turn your back, just for a second, and it will swat your bottom with a reality check faster than you can glance over your shoulder to see what’s coming. So how did I get here, this escalating tête-à-tête with the cosmos? Simple really, I let the good opinion of other people get a toehold and worm in.
I like that phrase – the good opinion of other people. I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say it in a lecture probably 30 years ago and it stuck with me. The gist is that other people’s opinions are just that, their opinions. Ask 100 people what they think about something, anything really, and you will get 100 different opinions. That’s right, opinions. They are the good opinions of other people. They are perfectly valid opinions, and I will go one step further and say they are also perfectly valid choices, for those people, but maybe not for me, or for you. What is right for me is what I think, what I like, and what, in the end, makes me happy, as it is for you. And here, my friends, is where I went awry, how I got into this mess with grit stuck in my craw. I let someone else’s opinion cloud over my own.
To be clear here, sharing opinions is great, but like anything, we can take it too far. For instance, do you predicate your opinion of something, or someone, on what your friends, family or coworkers think? I call that “opinion gathering,” when you need to validate your own opinion before putting your own stamp of approval on it. The basic flaw with opinion gathering is that, at its core, it means you don’t think your own opinion is good enough. How can that be? It is only good enough if it has been validated? (Pause and let that sink in.) It may feel safer to base your decisions on the consensus of your besties, but how on earth, my friend, do you get to be you under the weight of all those opinions? Sure, it’s nice when someone weighs in that the bohemian look you were going for is really more early-American hobo, but in the end, the choice on whether to sally forth or alter course is still up to you, because all of it is just their opinion.
Okay, that was heavy. Back to me. So here I am, post-chemo, mastectomy and surgery, navigating the landscape of never-gonna-be-the-same and who-am-I-now, so I thought I’d have a little fun. Over Thanksgiving I had my toenails and fingernails painted purple with white polka dots. Why not, right? It’s been a long time since I had nails that weren’t threatening to detach from my fingers at the slightest provocation, so now that they are healthy and strong again, I decided to celebrate with gusto. It’s sort of a throwback to when I was young and bold, when I did things for fun with a devil-may-care attitude and didn’t give a hoot about offered opinions. And you know what? It felt great! Now, as my fingers dance across the keyboard, all I have to do is glance down to be reminded of the playfulness that is always there inside me just waiting for a chance to express itself, which brings me to the next bit.
With Christmas closing in, I’ve been thinking about a blog post I did back on April 13, 2017, Flat Blue Sky, in which I daydreamed about a time when my hair had grown back and what sort of fun thing I could do with it to herald the second coming of my locks. I finally put that on the front burner and had some highlights done. Teal and purple; I love it!
And that should be all that matters, shouldn’t it? That I love it? Then came the grit.
I won’t say who delivered the grit, because who doesn’t matter. Let’s face it, there will always be people in our lives whose opinion will strike a chord. For me, the delicate area of self-expression that is always trying to castoff the grey trappings of life and splatter them with color is most vulnerable, for you maybe it is something else. Try as I might, some people’s validation counts. Not in an it-will-change-my-opinion sort of way, but in a no-grit-in-my-craw sort of way. I feel like they didn’t get the memo that there is a time to have an opinion and a time to just be happy for your friend (or family member, or whoever it is). So, since it seems I can’t make their opinion not matter (yes, there is a time to admit defeat), I can spin the dial and change my own attitude about it all. A small (or large, depending on your grit level) change in perspective and voila! The annoying irritation is now a gift. Remember, without an irritant there is no opportunity for growth or change, which is what I have now, an opportunity to break the chains of insanity, to change the narrative, to do something different.
Then again, that’s just my opinion.