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Guest Post: Being Youer than You

March 4, 2011

This is the last week of Amy’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? series at the Never True Tales. I’ve asked Sean from Average Supermom to join me because as soon as I started following her on Twitter and reading her posts, I was impressed with her honest writing, her open yet commanding voice. Something I’ve learned through blogging is that a person’s writing voice–one they’ve practiced and put effort into–is possibly their most authentic. So I clink my virtual glass of wine to you, Sean!

Enjoy, comment, click back over to read some of the fifteen posts she mentions. They’re good! (Which is why I asked her to be my neighbor, of course.)

Being Youer Than You

by Sean Wilson

When Jana asked me to write a guest post for her blog, I did a double-take. Wait, was she asking me? After I verified that yes, she really was, I spent three weeks stressing about what to write. See, I’m new at this blogging thing. I have 15 posts on my blog and zero subscribers.  I was worried – will people like what I write? Will they accept me? Will her readers throw virtual tomatoes at me?

To soothe my fears I looked around Jana’s blog to see what other guest posters had written. Maybe I could ‘model’ my writing after someone else’s and fit in more easily? And then I thought I could just be myself.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss

Yes, I used a quote. At least it wasn’t a definition – so amateur.  But this quote really means something to me. All my life I’ve worried about what other people think. I was always on the cusp of the cool crowd even as an adult. I never was truly accepted by any clique. My self-doubt led people to view me as stand-offish and arrogant when in reality I just didn’t know how to open myself up to others. I was always so quick to assume that everyone was judging me. When I would meet new people, my head filled with disparaging thoughts: My hair is too stringy. I don’t have the right jeans/purse/shoes. I don’t know all the words to every Rolling Stones song like they do. It was paralyzing.

When I was younger, I would sometimes try to dress like the cool kids or pretend to like the same music they did.  This never worked so I just became a loner in ripped jeans and combat boots. As I got older, it wasn’t much different. I tried to drink as much beer as the cool girls and tried to keep up with their all night partying. All that did was make me sleepy and fat. And we had nothing in common except for drinking and partying.

After seeing my daughter Ava deal with cliques in her pre-school class last year (yes, four year old mean girls really do exist), I decided it was time to lead by example.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I’ve realized there’s no reason to be so guarded. Life is too short. And opening up to new people has been very liberating. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I could strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. Now, it’s second nature for me. I am now comfortable enough in my own skin to put myself out there and see what happens. I make small talk with the guy at Starbucks. I smile when I walk by someone and they smile back, most of the time. And I listen. A lot.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have times when I think I’m a complete tool and every word coming out of my mouth is the dumbest drivel ever spoken. I sometimes see people look at me funny when I’m talking and immediately clam up. But the kicker is that the old me would never have spoken up in the first place. I want Ava to see that there’s no reason to be afraid of being yourself. I want her to know that following the herd isn’t always what’s best. And being genuine is the biggest gift you can give.

 

Read more from The Never True Tales series here.

Read more Average Supermom here.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine March 4, 2011 at 7:58 am

Sean! So great to “meet” you here at Jana’s! I actually followed through on a link Jana RT’s on Twitter to one of your posts, and like Jana I was very struck by the honesty in your writing. I think what you write about here is something many of us can relate to. Certainly I’ve always felt like I just don’t fit in, even sometimes with people that I would call my closest friends. I think it has to do with not feeling comfortable in our own skin. But like you, I’m learning to set aside external expectations, or those I perceive to exist, and to live as comfortably and true to myself as possible. It does take constant work though!

And I’m with you on the 4-year-old social circles. I see it with my 4 yo son too and it boggles my mind.

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Jana March 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

I relate really well to your points about high school, Sean. It took me back there in a really icky way. (It’s a place I’d rather not visit.) I am pretty good at being myself, but I find that it is off-putting to some people. I guess the thing to remember is that we don’t have to be best friends with everyone. We just have to be civil and appreciate our differences. (But the mean girls? Unfortunately, they never go away! They seem to last all throughout life, much to my chagrin.)

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TheKitchenWitch March 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

God, pre-school cliques…can you believe how early things start nowadays? Criminal.

Good for you for pushing yourself, for looking for the part of you that’s true. It’s hard work. You’re setting a great example for your daughter.

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Sean March 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Hi-I’m on vacation so answering via iPhone. I can’t figure out how to respond to each of you individually. But, setting aside those external expectations is so hard to do. If you are able to even just part of the time, it is very liberating. And no, we don’t have to be best friends with everyone. I think this is key. All my life I’ve wanted a huge circle of friends. Once I actually got one, I hated every minute of it. Too many people to please and too many big personalities in one place all the time was horrible. It’s ok to have just a few good friends. I try to tell that to Ava every day.

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Amy @ Never-True Tales March 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm

It’s so hard to feel comfortable in your own skin, isn’t it? I think I’m just beginning to understand it, three decades plus into life. Glad to ‘meet’ you!

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Cathy @ All I Want To Say March 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Hi Sean. Nice to meet you. I can related to what you’ve written here. Even still today I am one of those girls just on the cusp of the cool kids. In fact, I even comment how my office has a “cool kids club” in which I don’t belong, of course. It takes a lot of energy to move beyond that but I continue to try and be as good as I can be and keep all that clique stuff in the background.

It sounds like you are setting a great example for your daughter too! I can’t believe (and yet I can) that the girls get mean so early.

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Cathy @ All I Want To Say March 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Oh and for the record, I just subscribed to your blog!

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Kelly March 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I feel this, deeply. When I had my daughter in 2007, I decided I had to stop twisting myself into a pretzel for external approval or acceptance. All these years later, it’s still a struggle, but I try to remind myself that the only approval or acceptance I need comes from within.

Love anyone who quotes the Seuss!

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Leslie March 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I’m glad for the introduction, Sean (and Jana)! And for the good reminders here. After years and years of struggling to say and do the right things to fit in, I’m doing my best these days to be as ‘me’ as I can be. Occasionally I shake my head at myself, but for the most part I’m happier and more comfortable. We stayed up late with some new neighbor friends a couple of weeks ago, and everything about the night was so casual and familiar that I realized I could not, would not ever go back to stressing to impress (with work as an occasional exception!).

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Mama Zen March 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I love, love, love this post!

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Sean March 5, 2011 at 3:28 am

So nice to meet all of you, too. My phone won’t let me reply to each of you so sorry about that. Isnt it amazing how freeing it is to let the pretenses go? And our kids need us as role models more than anything. They see our insecurities and mirror them. It’s humbling to see it when it happens. I can’t wait to read all of your blogs when I get back to reality on Monday.

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coeliquore March 5, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Women are too pressed not to be ourselves. So when the time comes and we decide there is nothing else we can be it is something to celebrate. And our kids will always be so grateful!!!

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Sean March 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm

It’s true, we are too pressed not to be ourselves. I’m not sure why, either. Thanks for reading!

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Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Glad to “meet” you Sean! I can’t believe how early the pre-school cliques start having experienced it with my five year old. I’ve had good quality friends and have focused on building solid relationships with a few, rather than be the “popular” girl. You are setting an excellent example for your daughter.

Thanks for the intro Jana.

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Sean March 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Hi Rudri,
I noticed the clique issue in her 3 year old class last year. I just don’t remember this at all when I was little. I’m working hard on teaching her to be herself and not worry too much about these other girls, but I know it’s not easy. I still struggle with it myself.

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Dana Udall-Weiner March 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm

What a great post, Sean! I can relate to feeling uncool and awkward, and to shutting down in such moments. It’s funny how blogging, even though it’s quite public, can be a place to stretch ourselves and find our authentic voice. I’m glad to know you are out there, and look forward to reading your blog!

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