I’m up tonight when I should be sleeping. It’s been a long, humid day and I have been busy. Normally, I can’t wait to just go to bed. Generally, I listen to what my body wants and I do my best to give it to my body. Hungry? I eat. Thirsty? I keep hydrated. Of course, there are plenty of times that what my body wants has to wait. If I get sleepy at work or maybe while driving, I have to hang in there and be patient. But right now, it is totally fine to just call it a night. In fact, considering that I work tomorrow, it would be in my best interest. Still, I find myself fighting it the way that I used to when I was a little child.
When I was a kid, I worried that sleep made me lose out on time. I didn’t like to surrender my consciousness for hours and wake with only a few vague seconds worth of dream memory. Plus, dream memories were unpredictable. They were likely to be unpleasant and uncontrollable. Even though I was very young, I sensed that I was squandering my finite time here on earth.
There was also the pleasure of being the only one awake. I adored the privacy of having my own world where I could be fully myself. Partially, that repression of self was a product of being a child under the discipline of parents and partially, it was the product of being shy.
Tonight, my desire to be awake is to delight in things that I enjoy. I suddenly feel like reading all my favorite books and watching my favorite movies. I’m okay with that urge, even if I have to curb it and sleep soon. What I am no longer willing to tolerate are people who would try to stifle my sense of self. As a child, I had to be told what was appropriate and reprimanded for what was not and that’s a normal, healthy thing. However, as an adult, I have the ability to decide for myself.
Too often we encounter people who attempt to define our personhood and to control it. Sometimes we start relinquishing parts of ourselves because it is exhausting to have to constantly be on the defensive. We stop sharing and we shut down. If we can count on being criticized for every decision we make, decisions begin to feel pointless. There will never be a “right” decision and we will never receive any affirmation for anything we do. Interacting with people who do not respond well to our humanity and our unique self are people who drain, annoy, and otherwise create toxicity in our lives.
As a writer, I know that if you let this awfulness seep deep enough into your mind, it is crippling. Writing takes an amount of courage and confidence. I cannot second guess the validity of my every creative endeavor. I have to let myself create what my mind asks me to create, edit it, and evaluate it. Other opinions for revision can be useful, but not opinions from people who are not supportive of me and my goals.
It’s silly, but we often let others tell us our worth. We don’t need it from outside sources. We don’t need to be afraid of others not liking us or judging us. There is a delight in allowing ourselves to be naturally who we are and to embrace that self. I don’t know what socially approved Sarah is supposed to look like, but I do know that the person that I already am is bigger, deeper, and more complex. And those that can’t appreciate that? Well, that’s fine too. But I’m not going to stick around and waste my time on their negativity. I leave them to find a better, stronger source of power than trouncing on others.