David J. Kearney

August 24, 2015

In Your Skin

Filed under: Self Help — davidjkearney @ 4:41 pm

tmiIn Your Skin

When we were born, some of us were told “You can be whatever you want to be” or even better “Just be yourself”. On the other hand we’re told about tradition…what to believe, how to believe, what is “right” and what is “wrong”. When we start to walk and talk…it’s cute, but soon enough we are told to sit down and shut up.

When a boy says he wants to be a race car driver or a girl says she wants to be a cheerleader at age 6…it’s really cute. Then these same children are indoctrinated into the tradition of “normalcy”. The independence that a child shows early on, the artistry that is shown, the thought process and logic that the child shows independently, and the child that plays differently than other kids typically gets beaten into submission.

Then…here we are. We do the same things we have always done, generally the same way our family has done…generation after generation. Perhaps there is some comfort in that, perhaps we are afraid to rock the boat, maybe we know no other way.   Some of us, if we are reflective, begin to question why we do these things and repeat history. It is nearly impossible to feel at home in our own skin when we are constantly barraged by ways we should act, think, and feel by the media, the masses, friends and family…we are put down or worse, shunned, by family members and so-called friends for unorthodox ways. I have been there…the black sheep, the one that makes people frustrated when I didn’t agree with following the road, but creating my own path…or at least trying to. Yes, I buck the system…because who says the system is right.

Whether or not this way is good or bad, at a young age I began to question what we do as the majority…we vote republican or democrat, we worship similar (if not the same) gods, we celebrate birthdays, holidays, the “Hallmark Day” holidays and have special months for a cause…primarily due to tradition…we don’t dare to move outside of the box…we don’t dare open our trap. The box is where the majority sits.  How can the majority be wrong?  How can what I have done since I was born be questioned?

Have you ever seen a crazy popular movie where the hype was far greater than the movie itself? Ever eat somewhere that everyone raves over to go away feeling unsatisfied with a meal that didn’t even come close to hitting the spot? Have you ever listened to a crazy popular band, The Beatles, N’ Sync, One Direction and wondered what all the hype was about? That feeling…that’s what I am talking about here…the place where you are marching to a different drummer

I have a feeling that I am not alone here.

But, what I can tell you…it can be a lonely road at times…to not be in “The-in-Crowd”, to have an event, individual, or object that everyone gets so happy over or celebrates be so anticlimactic. One that fills people up with overwhelming joy but yet leaves you empty.  I am not talking about depression or some other mental health issue, which is a different beast altogether, but a feeling that disagrees with what everyone else seems to carry with great happiness, joy, and excitement.

If you feel like a stranger in a strange land, I am here to tell you today…YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  But, you are not your parents, your friends, or your spouse. You are unique…you are your own mind, body, and soul.  You have to become comfortable in your own skin and in your own head with how you live your life.

 

I was speaking with a neighbor one day and we ended up talking about the recent Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage…though not quite sure how in the world we got on this topic.  This neighbor was telling me that the show Modern Family was on TV and his grandson noticed that 2 men were kissing on the show and asked him why? The neighbor seemed somewhat offended by the show and wondered what he was to tell his grandson. My response to him was, my approach to my son is and would continue to be that my job in raising my son is to give him enough comfort in himself to be his own man…to make sure that whatever conclusions my son comes to about anything…that he is comfortable in his own skin, regardless if that decision is counter to me, his mother, society, or whoever might hold a differing opinion. I am not going to be able, nor do I want to, to mold him in such a way that he believes what I believe just because I believe it.

The reason I told you that story is that how we become who we are, for better or worse, is due in large part to what society, family, friends deem to be “normal” and what people think about the skin we are in. Believe this, not that; Do this, not that; Work here, not there; Love this, not that, Buy this, not that; All of this is really a contradiction to Being Whatever You Want To Be and Just Being Yourself.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed people that have to be around other people constantly…and are seemingly never comfortable alone.  I see people that would rather follow the crowd because it is less painful and makes them feel like they are a part of something rather than become a bigger part of themselves.  I have known people that are so mean to themselves and just miserable because they don’t see in themselves the beauty that others see.

In these cases, loneliness or being uncomfortable with one’s self contributes to discomfort and discord in their own skin.

How can we become comfortable in our own skin when a major conflict exists when we compare ourselves to others? Therein lies a problem…a HUGE problem.

skin

Conclusion

If you feel trapped, confused, or just plain out-of-place…I am pleading with you to reflect and come to terms with who you are and get to understand and like the skin you are in. If you feel that you are Out-of-Place…who is it with…those externally or is it something internally? Like the skin you are in by understanding what makes YOU tick, gets YOU excited, what YOUR likes and dislikes are. There is no magical solution and I can’t give you a Top 10 list of how to like yourself or to be comfortable in your own skin…everyone is different. What has worked for me probably won’t work for you. I have been able to break free from the expectations of liking sports, following a religion, disliking certain types of music, having certain types of friends, succumbing to peer pressure, and following a more traditional life path. It took many years of getting to know and respect the skin I am in. What I can tell you is, first and foremost, that this investment to get comfortable with yourself is probably the most important thing that you can do while you are here.  This isn’t going to be something you can figure out after you are gone. It takes a lot of hard work towards self-realization (to have freedom from external influence, from cultural expectations, political and economic opinions, and the freedom from worldly attachments and desires, etc.), and the acceptance that you and you alone are what makes you…quite simply…YOU. Your “skin” is what makes you perfect…perfectly imperfect, perhaps, beautifully broken.

You must know and be comfortable with no one else better than you.

Text of a Toastmasters Speech presented in September 2015

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