I have this bad habit. Actually, it goes so far back into my childhood that character flaw would probably be a better term for it.
When describing it to friends, I sometimes refer to it as insecurity, or a need to people-please. However, these are not fully accurate.
It is more that I have this deeply rooted fear of the repercussions of being…myself. I’ve always been quirky and a little different. Try as I might to blend in, I have never been skilled at the ways of normalcy. Instead, at a young age, I adopted sympathy toward those uncomfortable with or confused by my perspectives.
I have never confidently had a differing opinion with someone without feeling the need to apologize for the way I think. Any time I make a new decision for myself that makes a ripple in the stagnant Alabama waters of “acceptable,” I shrink and preface my explanation for my decision with “I know it is totally weird and makes no sense, but…”
In high school, during our political science course, we learned about ideologies. We took numerous quizzes to learn our own ideologies and how they inform our opinions about common political topics. My happy butt landed a few squares away from Gandi. Pretty cool, right?
Wrong. So wrong.
Lunchtime discussions turned sour over the revelation of my left-wing dot on the ideology grid, and I soon learned that I was “a bleeding heart,” “a communist,” “a proponent of baby murder,” and a “tree hugger.” I felt…really sorry. I had made my classmates and friends (gross, 17 year old Lona, these were definitely NOT friends) not just uncomfortable, but angry over my unusual result. There I went skipping my little liberal pebbles across the body of embraced traditional conservative ideals.
This is just one of many examples of times I wish I’d just owned it. Just owned who I am and what I am because over the course of the following two years, I tried to change. I tried to believe in the Republican platform. I tried not to be a problem kid. I really did, but ya know what?
That’s just not who I am, nor the way I think. In the last year I realized that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for my opinions. How empowering.
Last month I turned 25. I felt old. I dyed my hair for the first time to cover my seventeen gray hairs. I also felt this kind of cool new sensation of not being as sorry about who I am. I had a realization that I’ve got 25 years of life experience that show me exactly who I am, and exactly what are my values, and exactly what is my purpose in life.
The sweet part? I’m not sorry ’bout it. If it makes you uncomfortable, cool. Me too. Byeeee.
Y’all (not sorry for it–it’s the best contraction) I’ve spent too much time trying not to make waves and apologizing for what I am (or who I am not).
Here is the abridged list of what I’m not sorry for:
-My views on gender roles
-Marrying an immigrant
-Caring more about the environment than convenience, and thinking this is our responsibility as tenants on Earth
-Not consuming animal products
-Not purchasing anything tested on animals
-Condemning dog and cat breeding for profit
-Not subscribing to whatever this overly contoured, pore-less, freckle-less current makeup trend is
-My fascination with true crime (if you agree, listen to My Favorite Murder podcast)
-My belief that plastic straws suck, just like close-minded people
-Finding books more entertaining than movies
-Thinking brains are sexier than cleavage or junk in the trunk
-Living in Alabama, as backwards as this place can be
Phew. That was both exhilarating and mortifying to type.
It feels liberating to accept who I am, but it is not as simple as typing up a list. The challenge is putting my self acceptance to practice because the truth is that in these parts, I am sort of the minority in much of my thinking. It can be quite intimidating to own, but I’m done apologizing for it.
What’s one way you are unapologetically you?