So, I recently celebrated another birthday and the occasion got me thinking about myself and who I am at the moment. I consider myself a work in progress. I’ve always been of the mind that if there’s something I don’t like about myself, then I need to change it.
Ask anyone who’s known me for a long time and they’ll confirm I’m not the same person I was five years ago, or ten, or twenty. I’m constantly working on being a better person, not only to those around me but also to myself. I try to understand why I have certain peculiarities. Where do they come from and what can I do to change my bad habits and bad traits?
The one thing I’ve noticed recently is that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I no longer care what others think of me. To clarify, I want people to think well of me, to consider me kind, empathetic, open-minded. But as to whether or not they like me no longer matters.
What I mean is, what people thought of me used to weigh on my mind. If someone didn’t like me for whatever reason, it would literally keep me up at night trying to understand why and figure out what I can do to fix it. A weird neurosis that needed attention.
It was something I recognized as a negative trait and I’ve worked hard to, well, not give a fuck. It took time for me to realize that it’s not necessarily about me, that some people have their own hang-ups, their own inner demons. Maybe I remind them of an ex who did them wrong, or I said something that reminded them of an abusive parent. In other words, I got outside of my own head and looked at the world around me from a different point of view.
The result of that is self-confidence. Sure, I have moments of self-doubt and I question myself constantly, but I no longer worry about whether or not someone else is going to like me or my work. I know what I’m capable of, who I am as a person and as an artist. I feel secure in who I am.
It’s unfortunate that it takes so long to come to these realizations. It would have been nice to have understood this when I was twenty-five, or thirty, or at any other time, but I’m happy to have it now. Realizing that we don’t have to please and be accepted by everyone we meet is liberating.
I no longer stay up at night wondering why some random person doesn’t seem to like me. I simply don’t care. I know who I am, what I’m capable of, and I know that the people who care about me know the real me. That’s all that matters.
I am a work in progress, an image that gets drawn, erased, and redrawn each day. Each version is a little better than the previous one. I’ll never be exactly who I want to be, but I’ll never give up trying to achieve it.