Like no one is Watching

 

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When I am in my nineties and talking to my great-grandchildren telling them all about the exciting things that transpired in my lifetime, I’ll tell them about the black and white t.v we had and the first color tv my dad brought home. I’ll tell them about our first microwave and our fear of getting cancer if we stood in front of it while it was cooking. I’ll tell them about dancing with my Grandma Stephens in her living room while listening to my favorite music playing on her eight-track player. I’ll show them my collection of vinal records with Lionel Richie, Peter Paul and Mary, and Neil Diamond. And I’ll finish off the rousing storytelling hour by explaining to them what it was like to be around when selfies were invented.

When I tell them the story about the invention of selfies, I’ll show them this photo of me after snorkeling in the most amazing cove because this photo is historical. It is an actual digital copy of my first successful selfie that I took. Successful in the sense that I was able to take it without being self-conscious and without feeling awkward.  When I tell them about that, they will be both confused and in awe, because they, having grown up taking selfies and not knowing anything different, will not be familiar with the awkward transitional phase that some us of went through when the selfie first became a part of our lives. Perhaps some of us feared we would get cancer from microwaves had this same fear when taking selfies and that is why we have been able to capture such agonizing smiles.  My great-grandchildren may think that it was strange that during the early days of selfies people actually felt a bit awkward when participating in selfies.

In all honesty, when I took my first successful selfie, there was absolutely no one around. I was all by myself. But this was a good and acceptable way to become more comfortable with this new practice. After developing the ability to feel comfortable talking selfies when no one was looking, I moved to the next level: taking selfies when other people are watching.

To the inspirational saying “Dance like no one is watching” I add “Take a selfie like no one is watching.”  In all honesty and seriousness, I would very much like to somehow teach my own kids and someday my great-grandchildren not to worry so much about what other people think about them, just be you.

How would you dance if you weren’t so self-conscious about other people criticizing you? How would you sing if you weren’t paralyzed with the fear of the critics? What would you write and blog about if you didn’t agonize over wondering what people thought of you? What career would you choose if you weren’t driven by maintaining a certain image? What would you create? What would you do differently?

We build a prison for ourselves when we put such a high priority on receiving validation from others. It cripples us and limits our potential.

There is so much we filter and hold back on because we are so concerned about how others might view us. We get anxious about others seeing our limitations and our flaws. What if you could free yourself from that prison of being focused on the approval of others?

We can feel the difference between someone who is genuine and someone is trying too hard to impress those around them.

I watched the American Idol auditions once and the thing that stood out to me was the difference between those who were able to simply be themselves and those who were trying to be someone else. Those who were able to just be themselves still messed up and looked nervous,  but they were authentic and real and I loved them. Others were trying to be someone they thought they should be and seemed to be more focused on receiving praise from the crowds. We can feel the difference between fake and authentic and it’s not the difference between perfect and imperfect.

When it comes to being your authentic self, be you when others are watching and when you’re all alone. Be the person you respect. Ask yourself who you want to become? And then anchor yourself to the answer of that question rather than trying to figure out who you need to be so that you can be accepted and loved and valued by others. First figure out how to be comfortable with yourself, figure out how to take selfies when it’s just you. And then, let others see you. Take a selfie while in the middle of a crowded street, not to impress them, but because you want to capture that moment.

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So uncomfortable I look angry.

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Is this going to give me cancer? I’m too concerned to smile.

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What button do I hit?

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