How do you know if the life you’re living is authentically yours or not? Good question, and one that I think is worth taking some time to explore. After all, you only live once, and don’t you want to live your life instead of living someone else’s version of it?
I have spent a huge chunk of my life, since I was a teenager I suppose, trying take my life for myself and make it truly mine. It has not been an overnight process for sure, so I’ve had to gauge my progress all along the way.
Anyway, I wrote out 24 ways to determine if the life your living is really yours. It was easily the length of four blog posts when I finished, so I decided to split it into four parts.
Here are the first six, I’ll try to do one each week. Some of them may seem silly or easy, but I promise you they’re not to everyone. And until you can claim all 24, I think there are still parts of your life that aren’t really yours.
I love living a life that is mine and no one else’s. It lets me give a huge and genuine part of my life to others, and it lets me make so many more of the right calls for me and my son.
Oh, and I know it probably sounds like the “my cure for it” sections are meant to be a joke, but I’m dead serious. Try them and see if I’m not right.
1. When you want to dance…
When you’re at a party, or a concert, or a sports game, or sitting in your car, or walking down the road, or in a supermarket, and you hear that music that makes you wanna start bouncing and swaying and moving, do you dance? Or do you not dance so that others won’t be able to judge you for it?
Until the day you can dance wherever you feel like busting a move (any move, even a suburban white-boy move), and be able to say “who cares who’s watching!” you’re living a life that isn’t actually yours.
My cure for those who can’t dance: Next time you pull up next to another car at an intersection, look the other driver dead in the eyes, and start doing the fishing reel dance move. Cast out your line. Reel them in. See if you can get them to do it with you, and tell yourself the entire time… I will never see this person again so who cares what they think. And remember. Dancing isn’t about being the best dancer. It’s about moving to the music, and when you do that, there is no bad dancing.
2. When you want to speak up…
When you’re sitting in a class, or you’re sitting among friends who are all enthusiastically discussing something, or you’re sitting in a jury room, or you’re sitting in church, or wherever you’re sitting, and you have something to add or say, do you say it? Or do you keep your mouth shut so that others won’t be able to judge you for it?
Until the day you can say whatever comes to your mind, no matter what comes to your mind, no matter what anyone else thinks about it, you’re living a life that isn’t actually yours.
My cure for those who can’t speak up: Next time you’re sitting in a group environment, raise your hand until the group leader (official or implied) calls on you, even if it’s the kind of thing where no one is raising their hands. Then, bock like a chicken. When everyone is trying to decide whether to laugh or not, say, “I find it easier to bock like a chicken than to say what I want to say.” I promise you, this will lead the conversation into amazing places and you’ll realize that even at your silliest people think you’re awesome just for speaking up.
We will all act like this when we are 70. Of course if we fart in a group we wont care at all because we are living our own life. lol
Same goes for #4. THose consequences are always getting in the way. An example: PTA VP- IF I go against the principal in a public forum even though she is CRAZY, she will punish my children in the future by excluding them from clubs or assigning them on of the less desirable teachers. Yes, she is that petty. And she will get her way. Grr.
Very funny on #3. Truly the easiest way to do this without offending anyone is form a group with your true friends in it. One can actually read & post to just those people. Same goes for photos. All your other "friends" will be none the wiser. I actually have different groups to which I post different things. If I am posting something that is only relevant to local friends friends I select that group. I actually have a group called "Exclusions" that holds some weirdos that will never see anything I post. My profile looks unmaintained to them.
Some of us do hold social positions that require us to not axe people without consequence.
I can claim 1 for sure, but the others I had done, but it's hit or miss. Thank you for posting this, it is so encouraging Dan and I am promising to work on the other 5 and ALWAYS follow through with them, to make My life My own :)
Number one I can definitely claim. I love to dance just anywhere and in the car at a red light is my favorite. I used to work retail at a makeup store that had awesome music going all the time. Everyone knew if it was a bust a move song and I was on shift, even if I was selling something to someone, I would be busting a move. It also helped take girls who where overwhelmed with makeup and the vast amount of it to come out of their shell and have fun. Number 1 through 6 I can say I claim those but most of all number 1! I wasn't always able to claim them and once number 1 was the hardest.
I saw the 2nd part of this, so I figured I'd start at the beginning. I can claim 1 through 4 definitely. I used to be so guilty of #5 and it was awful. However, I managed to stumble into a really great relationship with my now husband, so I'm safe from #5 now. :) For #6, it's half and half. If I actually have something in mind, I'll speak up, but there are a lot of times I really don't care much and/or really don't know what I feel like having. It's fun to let your friends decide sometimes, often you get to go somewhere you've never been!
i think you are wrong about the unfriend FB thing. why potentially hurt anyone's feelings and now there is no need to because all you have to do is put them in the restricted category and they can only see what you post publicly and they don't show up in your feed. unfriending someone these days seems an unnecessary passive aggressive sort of thing. if there is someone you don't want to even have view what you post, even for the general public, that's what blocking is for.
I agree with all of these as well and after I finally worked up the courage to leave my ex-husband, I have been living life very much in this manner. I do think the examples may be a bit off though. For example, calling someone out that you don't even know in a group of strangers because they farted, may actually be a bit of a bullying thing. Let's say you're on an elevator and this happens. What if the person who accidentally let one go has a medical issue and truly can't help it or is sick that day and it accidentally snuck out. Not everyone who farts in a crowd does it knowingly and they may be feeling horribly about what happened already. Someone calling attention to it is just further humiliating them. I fully support the idea of standing up for yourself and what you believe in and agree completely that that is the only way to live a true life, but think this example could be unintentionally hurtful to someone else and hurting other people is not a good way to live your life.
Love this article! As i approach my mid 30's I Finally realize how important it is to be Ur self and live Your own life! To much energy is redirected and energy channeled wrong trying to do anything but be You!
My son and I dance in the mall if we hear a song we like! Honestly, having a child with special needs (my other son, who passed away in March) made me more confident, more assertive and impossible to embarrass. He never cared what other people thought of him-he was happy being a cool, funky dude. I feel like a big part of his legacy was teaching us that however you're born, you're okay that way.
thanks for sharing , I do not often get a mans perception on the hows and how not to. Keep the blogs coming you are doing a wonderful job sharing for others to think long and hard about for themselves...
I feel like some of these need better phrasing.
For example, you accuse people who can't/don't say every thought that occurs to them out loud of "living a life that isn't their own" but I think what you meant is that people who choose not to say something /for fear of judgement/ are "living a life that isn't their own".
And even that, I'm not sure I agree with. If I'm at work (I work at a Hospice) and someone is talking about God, and as an atheist I am thinking to myself that I really don't believe in what they're saying, I'm not going to start spouting off my religious views at them and get into a debate about it.
I don't blurt every thought that passes through my mind out like a 5 year old, because:
A) I don't want everyone to know my thoughts - I value my privacy. People are not entitled to know my opinion on every issue that ever gets discussed.
B) Sometimes spouting my opinions on some issues would have negative consequences, particularly in professional settings.
C) Sometimes I just really don't care about a topic and don't want to engage in the conversation: even to say "I don't care about this."
Which is not to say that I would bite my tongue when something that /does/ matter to me came up and I wanted to share an opinion.
But I think you need to make that distinction: WANTING to share an opinion, and opting not to, out of fear - and just plain old CHOOSING NOT TO SHARE. The *choice* is the freedom, not a lack of a filter.
I used to claim all six and had somehow drifted into a life that was not mine anymore. Thanks Dan for the reminders and for helping me reclaim my life. I appreciate you so much!
This is really weird. I had one of those look-around-because-someone's-talking-directly-to-me-though-they-don't-know-me moments. I realize how self-absorbed that sounds, but really, THANK YOU for this, the topic has been avalanching in the part of my brain that needs to admit things for months.
I'm with you on 5 out of the 6... can't bring myself to do #5, even though it needs to be done. Sometimes you can love somebody deeply, but have outgrown the relationship. How do you walk away when there is still love?
Every time I purge my Facebook list I end up deleting someone I still want to Facebook stalk, or we end up talking again and I have to 'fess up to the deletion. At the same time my lack of censorship is probably why I have no friends.
Workin' on the journey every day. Thanks fr being an inspiration. Boy did I take a LOT of flack for my Facebook purge though. What do you do about friends who you love, but can't follow because they are part of a social circle you are no longer welcome in? Seeing pics of them enjoying "my old life" was making it really hard to let it go and move on. They were very hurt by me removing them off Facebook, though we had not communicated for quite a long time in person.Now I fear I have lost them for good. *sigh*
I passed all but # 5. I stayed in a 19 year marriage 15 years too long. I never broke it off. He left when I finally spoke up about how bad our relationship was and I wanted to get help.
0 but I am beyond ready to begin 6 of 24 steps to taking back MY life. Thank you Dan...you are truly amazing!
This resonated, especially as this morning I ended a relationship I have been wavering indecisively about for weeks. Glad I'm one step closer to living my life.
People agree with me with I suggest A) restaurants that sell cooked sushi B) vacations within the continental US. BORING. I wish I had more friends that were like minded.
I have 4 out of 6.
I sometimes will not speak up for where I want to eat, and half the time I won't tell people they're wrong because I don't want to waste my breath trying to convince them of it. I know that's an excuse, but I do it anyway. Haha.
Thanks for the post.
Can't claim them all and not sure I agree with them all. I would add that sometimes there is a time and place for some of these things without risking not being your own person. I would score myself 5 out of 6 on that list though.
Getting pregnant helped me with these. I will always remember being 7 months preggers, hearing The Go-Go's in my grocery store at 10 at night and dancing for the entire song. I dance anywhere and everywhere I want to now. And I am not a gifted dancer...
I love number four ... my hubby and I were out to eat at a restaurant in CA years ago, and a large group were talking loudly about how everyone in Utah marries their cousin and has ten wives, etc. He stood up and said, "Hi, I'm Gary. I'm a Utahn. This is my wife. She is NOT my underage cousin. You are a lot of bigoted idiots and you have no idea what you're talking about." Then sat back down while a large number of other patrons applauded him.
I took this little test earlier. I live for me. Or I'm a mega heartless bitch. Either way, DELETE. ;)
the farting one is hysterical. I always say " oh man! that stench is truly horrific! whoever did that should be proud!"
Farting is not voluntary a lot of the time. Embarrassing someone who may have medical issues, especially in a group you don't know, is not some badge of freedom, it's just plain cruel.
@Felicity Menge He does sometimes on Facebook. Remember there are tons of comments to read through. 150 so far. That's at least an hour of reading.
@Andrew Glover Agreed, I felt like some of them were sort of "Well I choose not to behave that way because I'm an adult, or I just wouldn't want to." and I think that choice is what makes your life your own: Being able to choose how you want to behave in any given situation is to be your own master. Nothing wrong with biting your tongue if it benefits you - doesn't make you "not your own person". Etc.
@Andrea78 I have never in my life had a fart that I didn't know was coming...it gave me PLENTY of warning to go to the door and walk outside, or at least to another room...medical or otherwise...that is just the polite thing to do...
@LeaAnderson Lucky you!
Not everyone is the same in this world.