Thursday, July 10, 2014

7/11/14—Getting Real

This woman has surgically and otherwise altered herself
to look like a human Barbie doll. No doubt there's a
good bit of photo manipulation going on here, too.
Some of you may know me to be a night owl. I do like the early am hours. But I rarely ever spend those hours writing. And since I maintain a diversion-free bedroom environment, it’s even more rare for me to write in bed. So tonight I’m breaking all the rules.

It’s an interesting thing when that one thing that calls to you more than anything else is also the way you make your money. For some people those things are separate. For some they’re the same, but the people never recognize it because they never pondered the “what calls to me” question long enough to boil it down to a theme that has been pervasive in their life all along. I’ve had the honor of talking to many such people in the past and, when we light upon that common denominator, a light bulb goes off and they discover that what they’re doing now is fulfilling their mission. They might prefer to do it in a different way, bit it nonetheless supports their calling. I think there are a lot of people who are that way.

But now back to me. :)

I’m someone who has to write. My calling, boiled down, is to “move people with my words.” Professionally, as an advertising copywriter, I move people to buy stuff and visit places and choose certain colleges and subscribe to things. Here on this blog, I hope I move you to consider your personal and spiritual growth in different or deeper ways.

But it’s an interesting thing when this passion of yours becomes a transaction of sorts. In my job as a freelance copywriter, I’m compensated for doing something I truly enjoy—something that makes all my cylinders fire. Even though I don’t make a penny off this blog and it’s what I would consider “writing for enjoyment,” I still see it as a business transaction because it’s informing my budding career as an author. Both of these “transactions” are deadline-based and “my day isn’t over” until my desktop is cleaned off and all the deadlines are met. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy the “doing” of them. Yet, they’re my job. Yet, I feel so fortunate for them. Yet I’m doing my job.

I hear people—usually celebrities—say things like “when you’re doing what you love, it’s not work.” OK. I understand what they’re saying. But I want to call bullshit on it, too. It’s still a job. There are still aspects of it that bite. You still have to be somewhere at a given time each day. There are still difficult people you have to deal with. So this breezy attitude of “it’s not work” is not only inaccurate, but it also sets false expectations that people can never truly meet.

I’ve never come out and said it here before, but I’m not a fan of expectations and ideals that can’t be met. Nobody and no situation is perfect and the projection of that image imprints negatively on the observer when they fall short. It’s the same with airbrushed supermodels, perfect love and shiny little Brady Bunch families. In the shadows lurk cellulite, annoying tics and a neglected middle child who’s just one forgotten birthday away from going postal on society.

Part of it is our tendency to look on the other side of the fence to admire what we’re missing, but part of it is also carefully crafted PR on the part of the observed. And, mind you, we all play the role of observer in this dynamic and we also all play the role of the observed. (Which means there’s someone out there envious of YOU. Yeah. You.)

Somewhere along the line, we all project an image of effortlessness to some observer. And somewhere along the line we all also begin to believe some unattainable thing we observed might be attainable. And we fall short. And we either awaken to the thought that we’re doing this to ourselves and stop buying in to ideals nobody can meet. Or we continue to feel “less than.”

If I told you there’s somewhere in your life where you’re falling short, would you know the issue I’m talking about? Stop for a second and consider that question. What would make you perfect? Is it a short list or a long list?

What if there are some things out there you just simply can’t do better? And what if that’s perfect? What if that’s part of why you’re here…to strive for your best and make peace with your best even when it falls short of someone else’s best?

We waste so much time and energy—and even beat ourselves up—because our body’s not as flawless as Adriana Lima’s, our faith isn’t as strong as the Dalai Lama’s and we’re not as polished and professional as that chick in the office. But you can’t possibly be everybody’s personal best—you can’t embody everyone’s “one thing they came here to be.” Besides, not even Adriana Lima is “Adriana Lima.” Nor is the Dalai Lama the Dalai Lama. Each of them falls short of their own projected image in some way. And each of them falls short of you in some regard that has meaning for you.

Internally we’re all aware of where we fall short, but externally we tend to pretty that up with denials, fancy clothes, a showy lifestyle, strategic omissions or a certain air that makes us seem like we don’t fart or fail. While there’s wisdom to putting our best foot forward, there’s also a price. No one, including ourselves, can live up to the image any of us consciously or unconsciously convey. And, because we greet our inability to live up to those images with shame instead of acceptance—because we measure our worth against the yardstick of others—we limit our evolution as both individuals and a society.

We live in a society where it’s considered arrogant if you a) own your strengths and/or b) don’t own your weaknesses. Society actually supports our feelings of being “less than,” perpetuating a cycle of inadequacy. It’s a cycle that only be broken by getting real, embracing the entirety of who we are and representing the good and the bad honestly.

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