For my artist’s date this week, I watched a movie all by myself. After getting home from work last night, I perused Netflix for a few minutes before deciding on “The Reader” (a movie that won Kate Winslet an Oscar for Best Actress). I wrapped myself in a blanket, relaxed back onto our couch, and pressed play. As soon as the movie started I was hooked. I experienced so many different emotions from its beginning to its end: embarassement, sadness, happiness, and fear. The weirdest part, there was no one around to validate my emotions. I realized, as I sat alone on the coach, how often I turn to people to confirm my own emotions or experiences. It’s as if I need their approval before I can feel a certain way, or as if I can’t like/enjoy something unless someone else likes it as well. Likewise, if I don’t enjoy a movie (or even a book), but have previously learned that it received favorable reviews, I find myself feeling badly for my own opinion. I’ll lie to myself, and try to convince myself that I liked it. BUT then, if someone I know agrees with my buried opinion, I’ll jump out of my shell in relief “I know! That’s what I thought too!” Why do I need someone to agree before I feel confident asserting my own opinion? Does my voice not matter? Of course it matters! Everyone’s voice matters, and it makes no sense to hide or attempt to alter your opinion for the sole purpose of pleasing others. So why do we do it? (Please excuse the “we”, but I’m hoping I’m not alone in this).
Maybe we do it so that we don’t feel so alone. It’s scary to stand out, and it’s scary standing proud in the completeness that is you. By resisting that little head turn to a loved one, classmate, coach, or colleague, I am asserting that I don’t need them to tell me that it’s okay to feel, that it’s okay to be who I am. Just the other week I was speaking to some of my friends at work about possibly going to see a movie in a theatre by myself, just to see what it would feel like. Both of them flinched at the idea. “I would hate to be that person who laughs at a joke that no one else finds funny.” Indeed, there is something that feels slightly uncomfortable about not having anyone to turn to for moral support… but maybe there’s something empowering about it too.
Are you like me? Test yourself. Try doing some of the following activities by yourself, and check in with yourself during the experience.
- Watch a movie
- Go to a play
- Go to a concert
- Dance to some music
- Make a fancy meal, just for you (no one else’s taste buds allowed)
- Read out loud (as if to a child,but to yourself)
- Create a piece of art, but don’t show it to anyone.
- Write a poem or a short story (again, don’t share it)
Do you feel uncomfortable not having someone to turn to. I do, but I also feel liberated.
I am enough. You are enough. That’s all there is to it.