So at the conclusion of my last post (Good Friends, or Socially Maladjusted Cretins?), I promised to offer a thought or two around the idea that it’s possible to minimize, if not eradicate, the degree to which others can make you feel bad about yourself. (Sorry I didn’t get to that yesterday, which turned out to be a complete freak of a day.)
So. About the proper philosophy to recall and adapt whenever someone is, or is trying to, make you feel bad about yourself.
Two words: Fuck ’em.
I hate to curse. (Sort of.) But serious subjects call for serious words. And if someone is trying, or succeeding, at making you feel bad about yourself, that’s serious enough to warrant using both barrels of the best weapon in the world for fighting that particular enemy: Fuck, and Them.
As some of you know, Fuck ’em is, in fact, the Shore family motto.
Le’ line de’ bottom: There are two kinds of people in the world: people who know who they are, and people who don’t.
People who don’t know who they are have an exceedingly difficult time in life, because they’re driven to have everybody positively affirm that, at the very least, they’re doing a fantastic job of pretending to be the sort of person they (desperately) want people to believe they are.
If you don’t know who you are, then what can you do but turn to others for that vital information? And others will rush to provide you that input. It’s true what they say: nature abhors a vacuum. And there’s nothing like the particular vacuum of not knowing who you are to attract … people who suck.
But if you do know who you are? Ah.
Then You-Know-What ’em.
Whenever I find myself in the position of listening to someone who is trying to tell me who or what I should be, this is pretty much what shoots through my head:
Who the fuck are you? You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am. You don’t know where I come from. You don’t know what’s happened to me. You don’t know how my parents treated me. You don’t know my insane background. You don’t know who I love, or why. What the fuck happened to your life, that you feel the need to tell me about mine?
There’s no getting around it. I curse in my head. Sorry again.
Here’s the deal; here is everything: the world belongs to the small percentage of people who know who they are.
Be. Freakin’. Longs. The entire world waits to bend toward those who know who they are. Everyone else is basically just stuck on a ride they can’t get off.
Knowing who you are doesn’t mean being complete. It doesn’t mean feeling whole all the time. It doesn’t mean being perfect.
It means nothing more complicated than acknowledging and owning the simple truth that no one but you does, or can, know you.
There’s nothing tricky there. There’s nothing complex or sophisticated. This isn’t philosophy. It’s just common sense.
No one knows you like you do. Period.
Who you are; who you’ve been; who you might yet become: all of it is between no one but you and God. (And not even God if you’re of the atheist/agnostic bent. Then it’s just you and you, baby.)
It’s not between you and your mom. It’s not between you and your dad—or your spouse, your kids, your best friend, your pastor, your teacher, your boss, your co-workers. It’s not even between you and some clods in your car trying to tell you that you shouldn’t be gay.
You, and you alone, know, or can know, who you are.
So if other people, uninvited by you, try to tell you who you are?
Then you know what to say.
UPDATE: The young man who wrote me the letter in last time’s Good Friends or Socially Maladjusted Cretins? (of which this post is essentially part two of my response, if you’re just joining us) wrote me this morning to say:
I just read your Low self-esteem? Pffft. Who the [bleep] are you? post, and agreed with every word you wrote. Again today, on a trip back to campus after dinner, my two friends expressed their disbelief and disgust about me being gay. Then they told me how the laws in the Bible clearly state that only with a woman can a family be formed. They even said that, as I don’t go along with the “normal” flow, I’m gonna suffer for life. You were right all along. Yesterday, I was ashamed. Today, I’m boiling angry over such prejudices and bigotry. The next time they try to save my soul again, I’m gonna strike them back with all those thoughts you shared on those two posts. Thanks, John. You’re a lifesaver.