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Knowing and Being Thyself

By Billy | December 11, 2008

Uh oh, I’ve mentioned my blog to my girlfriend enough that there is now a decent chance she may be reading…  I better keep the content in the safe zone to make sure I don’t say anything I’ll regret.

Wait.  Scratch that.  That’s not me at all.  I don’t play the fit-in game any more.  Not for my girlfriend, teachers, employers, or parents.  Sorry guys.  (But actually, I’m entirely not)  In the lyrical words of Shirley Bassey, I am what I am.  I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity.  I bang my own drum, some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty!

That’s kinda how I’m feeling these days.  I hope you’re okay with that…  Well, actually I don’t give a hoot.

I have spent two decades of this worldly existence.  The first time I ever had a label for that ugly feeling I had in my belly was during my freshman English class in high school.  There’s apparently an entire genre of literature surrounding this feeling — our ancestors felt is as strongly as I do now.

“Know Thyself,” Mrs. Wentzel said.  She was alluding to the purpose of the ancient western literature we were reading.  Gilgamesh needed to accomplish this, Beowulf had a desire to do so, Hector of Troy, everyone.  For some it goes hand in hand with immortality through fame, for some it is to prove oneself to themselves, for me it is to explore myself, become comfortable with myself, and exist as myself.  I don’t need fame or any accomplishments… For me, being myself is a reward enough.  I need to prove nothing to myself or anyone else, for I am already me.

There are three major ways that I can think of in my life that I’ve made efforts to role-play.  I have wanted a past girlfriend to be happy with me… For four years I hid myself from her to make her happy.  (I never realized how utterly RIDICULOUS the phrase “make ______ happy” is.  You can’t MAKE someone do or be anything!)  Guess what.  She wasn’t happy with me for those four years.  Hmmm.  Wonder why… She wasn’t with ME.  Of course she wouldn’t be happy with me.  I spent those four years in a battle between being someone that would make her happy and being myself.  Being myself was the winner in the end.  It’s not fair for us or the people we are with in a relationship to pretend.  If she didn’t like me as the person I was, she needs to find a new person to be with.  Why do so many relationships suck!?  I fell into the trap hard enough that I don’t need to worry about that happening again.

Before, a bit after, and during that hell of a relationship, I also spent a lot of time pretending to be someone I am and was not for the sake of my ‘peers.’  I held my tongue to stand up for injustices because nobody else cared, I went with the flow to fit in and have friends.  These people were but acquantences compared to the types of friendships I know now.  I never found a way to be close with these people because I was not letting MYSELF out.  Like the romantic relationship mentioned above, how would these people know whom to befriend?  I was not being myself enough.

The third and final obnoxious type of role I tried to fit was the one I made myself try to fit.  Throughout my life I have had a stupid “ideal self” that I’ve wanted to live up to…  For some reason, quiet and shy were two of my ideal self qualities.  I played the roles I assigned myself on and off with both my whole and hardly any heart for years.

This past year I have learned to let myself be.  That means I am loud, that means I am goofy. That means I don’t wash my hands.  That means I eat out of the trash can.  That means I am barefoot.  That means I am practical (to the point that it almost loses it’s meaning).  (The Sound of Settling just came on my iTunes)  Being myself means that as I type this post, I allow myself to bite my fingernails without regret.  While doing this I smell pasta sauce on my right hand because I don’t use silverware anymore.  My feet reek, my beard remains unmaintained for the second month in a row, and I am writing a blog post instead of studying for my French final.  If I spend an extra 2 hours studying for my French final while I really have some creative expression brewing in me the entire time, I will neither study as efficiently, nor will I be able to create the thing I yearn to.  Furthermore, I will be prepared for a test, that will go towards my GPA, which will help prove to employers that I am capable of putting aside my REAL wants in order to pass a test.  This makes me question what test I am trying to pass.  I would like to think that loving myself and doing the things I really want to do, the feelings that I know come from my spirit, is passing the important test with flying colors.  Are we willing to be ourselves even at the cost of being rejected from jobs or excluded from certain things?

I am.  I don’t want a job if they value my GPA higher than my ability to do what I love.  I don’t want a friend if they’re bothered by how loud I laugh, I don’t want a girlfriend if she cares what content my blog has, I don’t want to get close to you if you can’t see how important this is to me.  The funniest and funnest part of this is that as soon as I let go of caring about how people viewed me, I started meeting more people and being respected and loved by more people than I ever realized before.

Over time I learned to rely only on myself and God, for these are the things I have in the end.  The consequence of this has been respect, deeper connections than I could have ever expected, love, and freedom.  Another great part of this game (life) is how phrases from the Tao Te Ching float around in my head as I think about this.  I tried to be the philosophical, sagely, whatever-you-want-to-call-it until I realized how severely I needed to work on loving myself.  I gave up the intense philosophical journey and found the answers I had been philosophizing for.  The sage attains by non-striving, says Lao Tzu.  It’s funny that I would learn that by not worrying about it.

I don’t feel much like editing this.  Tough.  I hope some of this was helpful for someone.  The point of all this is that you need to A) learn to hear your heart.  It speaks all the time and you know exactly what it’s saying.  Then you need to B) GO DO IT.  You shan’t regret it.

(Hi Honey)

Topics: Comic of the [ATF], Philosophy | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Knowing and Being Thyself”

  1. jesssica Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 11:02 pm


  2. PPOL Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    LOVE THIS (and you – in whatever way you can be the best you!) … I often feel you are such a teacher of mine and with this post, I don’t just feel it … I KNOW it.

    Go on with your bad self, baybee!

  3. Rumbelowstiltskin Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 12:07 am

    I haven’t yet forgotten the definition of ‘sensei’ you gave me. We are all teachers and we are all students!

    *Also, I got a B- in my French class, so I must have done OK on that test!*

  4. Melissa Says:
    December 22nd, 2008 at 7:40 am

    This is my favorite post! It feels so authentic. (This is an aside, but I have to alert you: I see the world… differently.) Sometimes I think of people as houses and what they let you see of them is like a window, with obvious metaphors for ‘griminess’ and curtains and black out curtains and walled over windows and such. This post, strange as it sounds, lets us see who you are. And I like who you are a whole lot better than who you were trying to be! Quiet Rufus? I laugh in the face of such a concept! Better to be loud than to fade as a ghost, no? Something I say a lot is that the means justify the ends or the answers aren’t important. How you find the answers, the choices you make, the roads you take, that’s what makes you who you are!

    Sorry that’s so long and congratulations on your test!