Yep. That about sums it up.
- I am being adventurous/crazy/goofy.
- My mom is scared senseless by it.
- My dad seems rather bored by the whole situation.
I found this picture when I was going through my mom's stuff after she passed away in 2013. And although there were a lot of others that were sweeter, cuter or more sentimental, I knew this one was a keeper.
It literally sums up my entire childhood AND why I grew up to be the way I am as an adult.
Obviously, as you can see in the photo, I had the need to do "fun" things like spontaneously do the splits between the arms of what is quite possibly the ugliest living room set ever sold in the 80's. That is the real me... deep down within. The adventurous, free-spirited little goofball.
Then there is the part of me that I learned from my mom. Be careful. Don't do that. Don't try that. Be cautious. Look out!
And the part from my dad (who barely batted an eyelash at my death-defying feat), who was a self-proclaimed "hippie" until the day he died. Who drove a VW bus, wore his hair long and played the guitar. Who cares if I "fit in"? I'm going to do what I want. I'm in charge.
Now even though that last part didn't always bode so well for the rest of us in the family, the overall feeling of being a little different than the rest is a good thing I can take away from him.
None of the other fathers had long hair, a beard and a mustache (remember, this was before "lumbersexuals" became cool), but my dad rocked that look well into his 60's. In fact, I've joked before that I never saw my father's chin in real life. Only in photos of him when he was younger.
He was also the only guy around that drove a Yugo (if you don't know what that is, look it up) with a fake car phone inside of it. He thought it was hilarious and the ultimate in irony.
And although I may have found it cheesy (and probably highly embarrassing) at the time, I can appreciate it now. In fact, it's probably why I still enjoy doing things like this on my birthday...
It made me want to "stand out" a little. Be different from everyone else. "Do" me.
But even in those moments, the other part of me was always there too. "What are people thinking of me right now?" "Why are they looking at me?" "Is there something on my face?" (I obviously didn't think this one when I was sporting the light-up dreadlocks.)
Now, this is not to say my dad was always outgoing and my mother was always fearful. I heard a few stories about my mom taking spontaneous road trips with her girlfriends when she was younger and unfortunately, as my dad got older, the majority of his non-working time was spent watching TV.
But the point is, I picked up their overriding traits somewhere along the way and shoved them right into my personality, without even giving thought to whether or not I wanted them.
Which is exactly what we all do.
Think about it. When you start out as a baby, you're just you. You might come out with a "bang" or you might stomp your little baby feet inside your mom's womb and refuse to come out until the doctor makes you (like I did). But either way, you are you from the moment you are born (if not before).
But then the world hits you. Your subjected to life outside the womb... with all of its noises, lights, beliefs, opinions, behaviors, expectations, failures, successes, people and places. It's like a non-stop movie marathon. And whatever is playing on the screen has a big effect on who you become as you grow up.
It's not necessarily that you lose who you are... but that core, that real essence of your spirit might start to get pushed down. If you're always being told the world is dangerous and you should be careful, or you actually experience dangerous situations firsthand, then the adventurous, carefree part of you might start to subside. Instead, you learn to be guarded, cautious and nervous.
Or if you grew up with parents that were always critical of you, you may take on that behavior and start to think that nothing you do is ever good enough. You may spend the rest of your life trying to "please" their imaginary voices in your head.
It's really a shame when you think about it. Because your parents are just acting out the "stories" they picked up from their parents, who acted out their upbringing and so on and so on...
Wouldn't it be so much easier if we all were just born with some sort of protective gear that shielded us from such influence?
Maybe. But then we wouldn't get to pick up all the good stuff either. Like my dad's spirit of individuality or my mom's overwhelming generosity and kindness.
So what do we do about it instead?
Well, for one, you recognize it.
Once you actually realize that some of "your" traits are things you picked up from someone else, you are one step closer to changing them! So many of us get stuck in the old "that's just how I am..." rut, that we forget that WE have the power to change anything we don't like about our personalities.
Then, you take away the good...
Because there's always something positive you can take away. For instance, there are times when a little caution and reservation may benefit you, as opposed to just having a knee-jerk reaction.
... and, leave the bad.
Remember, you CAN change, no matter how old you are. If you realize that you are living with fear, guilt, perfectionism, jadedness, entitlement, worry, sorrow, disappointment, timidity or whatever else you may be carrying... realize that you can set it down anytime you want.
Sure, some loads are heavier than others and may require a little help in unloading. But it can be done.
So why carry around emotional baggage any longer?
Let it go and be the person you were created to be. The person you were before you knew any different.
(Like they say... shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land on the brown shag carpeting.)
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