As a rule I don’t listen to much music anymore. I have lots of it from my past interest in it and I have an iPhone and an iPad and iWhatever’s that I might need to download and listen; but I have other things that are more interesting to do and which take up my time. Listening is unavoidable at the gym that I visit every morning, since music is constantly on in the background. On Zumba days at the gym and on days when there is a group exercise class going on the music is an integral part of the sessions, providing the past-paced beat for the classes.
So, this morning I was going through my workout routine at the gym when a song came on in the background that caught my attention, mainly for its message. It is Joey McIntyre’s song “Stay the same.” The song resonated because that is topic that I have written about in the past, or at least I’ve written about being yourself and liking yourself ( see my three little words post on I like me or the post on “First believe in yourself”). In this song Joey sings about staying the same and not trying to change yourself; but, rather liking who you are.
The journey from childhood to adulthood sometimes takes a tortuous path through the badlands of self-doubt, self-denigration and sometimes self-destruction as developing youth struggle with finding their identity and being happy with what they find. We are surrounded by media images of perfection – the perfect face, the perfect hair and perfect bodies – so, it’s no wonder that many impressionable young minds come to the conclusion that they are not perfect and need to change something, maybe everything. They become enamored with the surface, with what they can see in the mirror, not what other “see” in them.
It is perhaps one of life’s greatest lessons to learn how to “see” beyond the superficial surface in people and find the true beauty of the person within. Equally important is learning how to be comfortable and confident with your own inner person and finding ways to let that part of you shine through. You can easily recognize people who have mastered that life lesson because of their smiles. Confident people often smile, not just because they are happy, but also because they are happy with themselves and they are unafraid of what others might think. It’s not that they don’t care what you think about them; it’s that what you think about them is not going to define them. They do not need your approval to be comfortable with who and what they are. They may seek your friendship; but, not because they need you to validate them.
Many struggle with establishing their own identity during those formative years. Some choose to run with a crowd full of people that they can emulate. The members of their crowd may dress alike, talk alike and act alike. Sometimes that is a bad thing, if the crowd becomes a bullying clique at school or elsewhere. Sometimes youth become fan-atics, following a particular performer or star in ways that can become obsessive. They may dress like their idol and change their appearance to look more like them, too. Fortunately most youth grow out of both of those options and eventually find their own identity. Somewhere in that transition is where they learn to like themselves, to accept what they look like, sound like and act like.
Both boys and girls (and many adults) may still go through a period of acting or disguising themselves to some extent while they are dating. They may take weight off, learn to make themselves up a bit more, dress a bit nicer, act a bit nicer, go to places that they would not normally frequent and perhaps do things that they would not normally do, all in search of the perfect mate. This is another phase in which just being yourself is actually the better strategy. Too many marriages later dissolve because the charade is dropped after marriage and one or both partners feel somehow cheated with what they are left with, especially if things progressed very fast and the opportunities weren’t taken to reveal the underlying people that were there all along. Marriage is a bond and commitment which should be made between two people who both “see” the other person for who they really are and love that person that they “see.”
So go listen to the song “Stay the same” and then get comfortable and confident with who and what you are. Learn to like yourself. Learn to love having time alone with just you. It will make it much easier to lile or love others.
Have a great week ahead!