Admit it, sometimes you act boring to avoid being judged – you don’t do something you really want to do because people might think you’re crazy. Often you chose boring and safe over fun and free. Am I right?
Who isn’t at least a little afraid of being judged, right? It’s sneaky, sometimes I don’t even know that worrying about what other people think is what’s keeping me from doing what I want to do.
People judge. We will never stop them.
It’s our job to learn how to be true to ourselves in the face of probable judgment.
So, what do you think about tattoos?
Oh forget about it…I don’t care what you think.
Ha! Okay, maybe I care a little.
But I just learned a big lesson about doing what I want to do, EVEN IF you judge me, when I got my first tattoo.
Ye-ah…I did it—and I love it.
But it made me realize just how much my fear of judgment held me back from getting a tattoo..for like…30 years.
Cause you know that a tattoo is permanent right? LOL So whatever I put on my virgin skin is here to stay…even if people judge and hate it (me?).
Good thing I did it for me and not for you, right?!
Rewind a second. So I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was in high school. But my inner “yes” was dampened again and again.
My mom told me that they wouldn’t pay for college if I got a tattoo. I probably would have gotten something stupid and regretted it. Maybe she saved me from myself at the time. Maybe.
Sidebar: Funny thing – the tattoo consent form actually has you initial next to a statement “I understand that there is a possibility of pissing off my mother.” Ha! I totally laughed out loud when I read it.
Then I was working in a corporate job. I worked at Arthur Andersen when women weren’t allowed to wear pants. No lie. There was a time (early-mid 1990s) when some companies still dictated that women were to wear skirts…for men’s viewing pleasure. Crazy, right? Anyway, if pants weren’t allowed, I’m quite sure that tattoos were on the no-no list. I was a rule follower, so more years, no ink.
I got married, had 2 kids, moved to California … my tattoo dream kind of faded into the background.
I think my tattoo dream faded into the background at rate that the “real me” faded into the background.
I was bored. I was boring. I was letting the role of “mom” (and all of the expectations and fears of judgment) turn me into someone I wasn’t and hold me back from being all I am.
I felt like there were parts of me that felt caged up and were screaming to be released.
Time to Express Myself Fully
One of the biggest things that continues to shift for me as I do my inner work is a deep desire to be fully expressed as me. I want to stop being who society and others think I “should” be, and instead to be fully me.
That’s harder than it sounds, ya know. It’s been a lot of work. There’s been a lot of healing, a lot of heartache. It happens layer upon layer. It’s like an unfolding, a blossoming – like petals on a lotus flower. Hehe – that’s foreshadowing about my tattoo 🙂
At one point when my kids were in early elementary school, I remember wondering, “Do people love me for who I am or for what I do?”
At the time I was a pleaser, working my butt off, volunteering at the schools, doing whatever anyone wanted me to do so I could prove myself as worthy of their love.
I had to learn how to say no,
to disappoint people,
to sometimes drop the ball and realize that it’s okay.
Where is your will to be weird? I often felt that I had a choice to either belong and be accepted . . . or to be me. It’s hard to go against expectations. It’s hard not to feel judged.
We talk to our kids about peer pressure. But that feeling of wanting to be accepted doesn’t end when we get past the teen years. We still worry about what other people think, the image we project, being liked, being wanted. We show the parts of us others expect to see—even if it means putting ourselves aside, hiding who we really are.
When I’m not being true to myself, I manifest physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, hives, or a dry mouth. I consider myself lucky that I have these little indicators of me abandoning myself in the interest of others.
Is your body sending you clues that you need to be more true to yourself? Listen closely.
I worried what my mom would think. I listened to employers over my own voice. I listened to the societal judgment of tattoos. “They” looked down on tattoos because they weren’t part of the mainstream culture. And I listened. Even my husband was not fully on board.
But the truth was, when I quieted those outer voices and listened within, it was clear – I totally wanted a tattoo. It was time. The more fully expressed I became, the pull to get a tattoo kept speaking louder to me. And the less I began to care about other people’s opinions and judgments.
I live a pretty mainstream life and accept many of society’s “rules”, but some of them are totally bullshit – totally there to make us feel like crap for expressing ourselves. To make us feel like crap for being different. But we ARE all different. That’s the reality (and it’s pretty freakin’ awesome if you ask me).
Who decided that we are supposed to act and look like each other? Who decided that belonging and acceptance were going to trump being true to ourselves? Why do I have to sacrifice myself in order to be socially acceptable? I’m just not doing it anymore.
You may hear more about my tattoo in the coming weeks. No joke, I learned a lot from a little ink. But here’s what I want you to know today:
Being true to yourself and doing what you want despite other people’s judgments isn’t easy, but it is so freakin’ freeing. Also, sometimes we think people are going to judge us or react one way to something we do. And sometimes, we’re wrong. The only thing crazier than not being you because of judgment is not being true to yourself because you’re afraid you might be judged.
The more I accept myself, the more others accept me. I’ve recently discovered that it’s all a big lie that I had to “be” someone else so that others would accept me. We don’t have to sell our souls to be liked or loved … to belong. We just need to be ourselves. Your outside world is simply a reflection of what you feel inside. If you accept yourself, you feel less judged (or maybe you will just stop caring…).
Life is too short to play small because of what other people might think. Be the radiant being you are meant to be. You know you want to.
Okay, so ya ready to see what I got?
It only took me about three decades to get here!
This called a Unalome.
The unalome symbol represents the path to reach enlightenment.
The path starts at the bottom (child/birth). We wander on this non-linear path, with struggle and strife, becoming more self-aware, integrated, embodied, conscious of our actions/surroundings/experiences. When we reach the top of the symbol, we’ve reached enlightenment.
Since I believe enlightenment is not a sustained state, rather something that comes and goes, I chose the lotus at the end to represent divine beauty and true expression of self, with the unfolding leaves representing the expanding of the soul and spiritual awakening.
This is my path. This is me. Deb Blum. 45. Tattooed (finally). Don’t judge me. Or do…I can handle it.
So, what about you? What have you been holding back on because of YOUR fear of being judged? Write it down. Say it aloud. Share it here.
Start by simply acknowledging something you have been blocking or holding back in yourself. How can you accept yourself more?