Last week I was Very Brave three times. I won't go into details, mostly because by listing my Brave Deeds on “paper” they'd be immediately subject to deflation. They'd go all lowercase and then I'd feel sad. So, trust me. I was Brave.
But along with Bravery comes an increase in the volume of the voices in my head. I know you know what I'm talking about. I'm sure there are people in the world capable of consistent confidence - I've seen them in movies - but most of the people I hang around with are not immune to the voices: “You can't do this. You're not smart enough. You're not good enough. You're stupid to even try. Quit now before you make a fool out of yourself. You're stupid and ugly. And fat. And it took you seven years to learn how to cook eggplant. Because you're so stupid.”
I know! None of these things are actually true; it only took me five years to learn how to cook eggplant (the trick, I discovered, is in soaking the damn thing in salt water before you coat it in the bread crumbs). But those voices can be so loud it's hard not to be convinced of kernels of truth. A haircut helps. Cookies help. Drinks out with friends who don't even say once “Um, don't you think you're a bit too stupid for that?” when you reveal your three Brave Things – that helps. And age helps, even though one of the voices' favorite criticism is that I'm getting too old to wear certain shirts. The older I get the better I get at ignoring the noise around me. It's survival. If you listen, if you let those voices get loud enough to make you change your shirt, than it's like flowers dying on a vine. You're all brown dust and useless petals.
The Sound of Style
I brought a hat to the hospital to wear
when we were brought the baby home.
At the last minute I panicked,
unsure if I could wear it.
My husband said to me:
“You will only bring this brand new boy
home once in your life.
You should wear what your heart desires.”
Some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
I try to hold those words in my heart
most mornings as I head to the closet,
not sure what to put on.
I often choose a patterned shirt or a colorful pair of pants,
only to hang them up again
in favor of being more conservative.
Truth be told, I love to wear my hair in pigtails,
to twirl in skirts with ruffles flying,
to put a pair of maryjanes on my feet and dance across the floor.
You might think I was inspired by the many young girls
that I see every day.
The ones that insist on dressing themselves,
the cry “I do myself” a constant refrain in the mornings.
Each outfit consisting of layers and prints that go together
perfectly—in their eyes.
If you were to think that I aspire to be like that,
you would be right.
Yet I worry that others will look my way
and think me silly,
that I am too old to be dressing as a child.
There is a fine line between brash and bold.
But in this day and age of media, ads and commercials
that yell their messages at the top of their lungs
and insist that you pay attention;
someone out there is always willing to
instruct on the latest fashions and insist on an acceptable style.
In response the voice inside becomes quiet and harder to hear.
Stop what you’re doing right now and listen to it.
There’s no need for you to follow the crowd.
Do not go gently into that good night.
Live your life out LOUD.
Be bold, bright and vibrant,
and always wear the shoes that make you happiest.
Next Week’s Word: Thief