What Would Aaliyah Say?

First of all, let me start off by saying that if you aren’t following Busy Philipps on Instagram, you really should be. This is not going to be a piece about the wonders of Busy’s Insta…but seriously, treat yourself to following her. Homegirl is REAL and her stories are by far some of my favorite nuggets of social media glory out there.

ANYWAY, while that concluded my plea for you to do the right thing for your soul and follow her/her stories, it begins what’s really been on my mind lately. Last week, she posted a video and was talking about another video she posted the night prior of her daughters dancing to the Hamilton soundtrack. Cricket, her youngest daughter, was GOING FOR IT and dancing all out and it was ADORABLE. It was also kind of #goals because of how free she was. So Busy’s morning tear-inducing follow-up video was about just that, how free she was and how she hoped she always felt that free and joyful and that nobody makes her feel less that way.

That was such a fucking real thing. I mean, I can pinpoint the exact moment in my childhood when I became hyper self-aware and it never shifted back. I know I’m not alone. So many of us have a shift in awareness like that growing up, and I bet I’m also not alone in being able to pinpoint that moment. You know what they say… You never forget your first shaming. That’s not the phrase? Hmm. Well, it should be. Honestly your first shaming is probably something that sticks with you more. Okay, we’re going off track here. Back to the shame track…

So with Busy breaking down about her daughter potentially having this joy taken from her, I was remembering my own childhood moment of self-awareness and in turn becoming critical of myself. My mom actually induced my own personal journey. Long story very short, she publicly mocked 8 year old me as I was singing Mariah Carey’s Hero. (Yeah, like I said, long story VERY short. We’ll get back to this at a later date though. I’m working on a piece about it. Calm down.) I laughed it off at the time and acted like I didn’t care, and I almost even believed myself but I recently became aware of this self-conscious d-day when I was trying to figure out why the hell I’m always so worried someone is going to rip me apart if I try something I’m not sure I’ll be good at.

It’s so funny (read: not funny, actually really sad) that something so minute and simple at the time is something that changes your core being. I think it could be argued that we are not born to be self-conscious on this critical level. I believe that’s a learned behavior. Sometimes it’s learned through someone meaning well; sometimes not. At some point, we’ve all had a moment where we didn’t feel “normal.” What we’ve all had less moments of are people celebrating our own normals. “Normal” is not a one size fits all concept. So you love to go all out dancing in your mom’s closet to the Hamilton soundtrack? Rad. Keep it up! So you try something and you’re not great at it? JOIN THE CLUB. You don’t get an iconic Aaliyah lyric like “if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again” because we live in a world where everyone’s effortlessly good at everything!

So we acknowledge that our normal doesn’t have to be someone else’s normal, now what? For me at least, I think on a deep level, I used this hyper-self-consciousness/fear of ridicule as an excuse. I was talking about this before about my strong power to talk myself out of anything… well, this is kind of why. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of failure because of the potential ridicule that would accompany it.

When I allow myself to vulnerably care and invest myself in something, that alone opens the door for someone to ridicule it because they knew I cared. 

Yeah, I get it. This is deeply insane. Work with me, here. But in general, to embrace whatever our normal, joyful selves are would be to pinpoint what made us shift away from it to begin with and to start being conscious of when these self-critical thoughts popup in our minds. We’re carrying the baggage that another damaged individual bestowed upon us and we totally don’t have to! But that’s easier said than done. If we slip and let ourselves be critical and self-censor our authentic reactions, no big deal. Just remember those eternal words of wisdom from Aaliyah and dust yourself off and try again. Dance like no one’s watching!… Or even better yet, dance like you don’t give a single shit whether or not anyone is watching!

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