Two things happened on my 34th birthday, which was last week.
The first thing was that a blog that I’ve recently become familiar with, called The Current Conscience, published a piece on fear and judgment which piqued my interest because of its direct connection with both of my resolutions that I just posted about. At the beginning of the year, I resolved to: 1) Remember myself and my own mistakes when passing judgment on another person, and 2) Start to let go of the little fears that permeate my days. So you can see why I might connect with a post called “Fearing the Fear of Judgment.”
I’m not going to re-post the whole enchilada, but I will highlight the sentences that made me want to touch on it this week:
“To a certain extent, all of us fear being judged about something. No matter how old, wise, mature we become, a small part of us will always be concerned about what others think, and especially how others will see what we perceive as our weaknesses… This fear of the possibility that other people are judging us can be crippling, preventing us from living the life we want to live, and from being who we fundamentally are… Ultimately, the fear of being judged is about fear of consequences–it’s about being bound by the imagination of consequences. We make all sorts of assumptions about what people will say or do if we are honest. We let our minds whip us up into frenzy, imagining all the negative possibilities of moving forward. And that’s what kept me hostage to this need to be perfect, or at least, appear outwardly perfect… We are generally terrified of being found out about our weaknesses, problems, vulnerabilities. But the thing is, everyone already knows… The real consequence of being afraid of judgment is living a life that is not honestly, authentically yours… All the consequences I had imagined were just that, imagined. None of what I imagined was based in any sort of reality, except for the fear that gripped my brain… Ultimately, fear about being judged is related to one thing: feeling like you owe something to the people in your life. And what helped me break free was the realization that I don’t owe anyone anything. Seriously. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for who I am, I don’t owe anyone a perfect version of myself, I don’t owe anyone a… construct of myself that makes them more comfortable.”
What I got from this posting was that perhaps my two resolutions are actually one. I had been admonishing myself for being a “judger,” someone who is quick to leap to a critical conclusion about another person’s decisions. And I had been judging myself for my judgmental proclivities and for all my little, detrimental fears that are ultimately standing in between me and my capacity for courage and happiness. This piece makes me take a step back and wonder: maybe what I need to focus on is not fixing myself so that I become some perfect person, but pushing myself to let go of all the “fixing” and open myself up to the possibility that there is no perfect version of me. Perhaps my fears of judgment and my judgment of my fears is all just noise keeping me from living my authentic life. An authentic life that involves being imperfect from time to time.
My favorite phrase of the above: being bound by the imagination of consequences. Have I been wound up so tightly about my own imperfections because I perceive some imaginary repercussion? What’s really going to happen if I just accept my true nature? I think it’s hard for us who are achievers and fixers and doers and dreamers to let go of the notion that we owe the world something, because if we don’t owe the world anything then the world doesn’t owe anything to us. And we like to think that we put in our dues, we do the work, and the logical result is that good things will come our way. Just as there might be consequences to our misgivings, there should be rewards for our perfections, right? For our efforts, at least?
I am one of these doers and dreamers, but I appreciate that this writer is encouraging me to just LET GO. He is arguing that the greatest reward for just releasing my grip is that I will become closer to my true self.
It reminds me of this Kafka quote I’ve had forever:
You don’t need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don’t even listen, simply wait.
Don’t even wait.
Be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you.
To be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
I don’t think my hyperactive self could sit still and solitary for very long waiting for that world to get rolling, but it’s a lovely metaphor. And a lovely reminder to slow down.
The other thing that happened on my birthday? The world unmasked itself and rolled in ecstasy at my feet. Or, my longtime boyfriend got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Somewhere between my gurgles and tears, I agreed.
I think some good things happen because you make them, some good things happen because you deserve them and some good things just happen. I don’t know which one this was, but it happened. And it is good.