“What are you doing tonight?”
My coworker probably didn’t even need to ask me. Despite my status as a millennial in the city that never sleeps, I’m a creature of habit. Writing late into the night, binging on BBC, grabbing a beer with friends, having a quarter-life crisis in pottery class, yoga — my routine is as similar to “Sex and the City” as it is to “Stranger Things.”
“Pottery and ‘Sherlock,’” I cooed, already dreaming of donning my avocado pajamas and putting my arms around a bowl of homemade popcorn. Extra butter.
Safe to say, this was not the answer they were hoping for. The second the words left my mouth, their eyebrows shot up with a look that said, “Don’t rub your habits off on me you single, cat loving weirdo!” You know the look. It’s the look that transports you back into your junior high locker room, where the pressure to conform outweighs your desire to wear panda bear underwear and go makeup free. But unlike my 13-year-old, braces-clad, glasses-rocking younger self, I’m no longer in the business of hearing other people’s opinions about my life. There is only one opinion I can count on, and I’m looking right at her.
It isn’t easy to receive this look of judgement. The heart wants what the heart wants, and like a 56-year-old woman in beads and free flowing blouses, this chick loves herself some ceramics.
It takes real guts to be on one’s own team because in doing so, you’re looking at your menu of faults and bad decisions and saying, I accept them. The good, the bad, and the unanswered texts from crushes past. The accomplishments you write home to your family and the social anxieties you try to keep at bay every time you walk into a room of new people. It doesn’t help that there is an endless list of things working to ebb away at your self-confidence — Photoshopped images in the media, snide comments from strangers, criticisms from your loved ones, bad dates, undermining coworkers. But here’s the thing: If you’re not going to be on your own team, who will?
To me, the best kind of life is one that is lived authentically. It’s having courage enough to embrace the things you love, take stock in the things that make you different, and celebrate the victories of looking into another person’s eyes and thinking, “Wow, I really don’t care that I’m not your type.” As my own team captain, I’m lighter without the worry of what people will think or say about me. That’s on them and truth be told, they’re probably more focused on their own lives than taking the time to question my love of teaching sex education or my messy brown hair.
I still remember where I was when I decided to become a real fan of Carly Lanning. It’s funny now thinking that it was an active decision, when in hindsight it’s something I wish I had always carried. I was talking on the phone to a friend and
as they congratulated me about an article I’d just published, I volleyed back all the things I should be doing better. I was a broken record repeating phrases like “I should be farther in my career” and “My body is getting gross, I should be working out more!” After hanging up, I listened to the squeals of the Jewish home schooled children wafting in through my kitchen window and realized how tired I was of always beating myself up. It made me heavy and unhappy. By measuring myself against other people’s accomplishments or opinions, I’d convinced myself I wasn’t enough.
Right there in that dark-paneled Los Angeles kitchen, I discarded my self-sabotaging mindset because I was more than enough for me.
There will always be moments of self-doubt, that’s as common a human emotion as our craving for carne asada fries after a few beers. Thoughts like: What if that coworker is right and I can’t manage this project? What if that guy didn’t call back because I’m boring? What if, what if, what if.
In these moments I want you to pull yourself in for a huddle, regroup, and ask yourself two things: Does this thing make me happy? And do I think I can do this?
Don’t apologize if either answer is yes. You owe no one a justification as to why you like to spend Friday nights at home reading instead of out at bars or why you received a promotion. Grab your unique quirks by the lapels and embrace them! They’re the very things that make you you. And trust me, you’re just the person any weirdo would want as a teammate.