You know that thing where you try to become a better person? It can suck sometimes. Initially, I mean. Don't get me wrong - like Kanye once said, the end result is dope, but there's definitely some solid reasons, I think, for the reason we/I initially resist the change it takes to get better. Clearer. Deeper.
Saying that getting deeper with yourself tends to bring up a lot of inner conflicts is like saying that maybe Chris Brown could use some therapy - it's so obvious it's stupid. But the funny thing to me is that while I expect these inner conflicts to be really important, complex things that have the potential to transport me to the top of a metaphorical/philosophical mountaintop, more often than not they're concentrated on the everyday minutiae that I almost don't notice anymore, or have gotten so used to that the questions almost seem kind of silly. Ridiculous. Even eye-roll inducing.
My big thing lately is that I want to clear out my fields. Simplify. Get rid of the fluff. I've been on a kick with this for the past two years - first it started with physical stuff. I got rid of a bunch of stuff that I didn't need and that seemed to be almost suffocating my space. About 90% of my possessions, actually. I wanted to be lighter, more free to move and travel and be ready for whatever change came next. And I kept remembering and repeating this certain mantra every time I sold, gave away, or threw away something - when you clear out the old, you make space for the new. As it turned out, that was prophetic - I was making space for two huge transitions (moving back up north, and then moving in with Chris) that would not only change my life, but would also definitely make me appreciate the prior quest to pare down my belongings (no bullshit: those spaces, while lovely, were and are very small with limited storage. My things fit exactly and comfortably into them, which would have been so impossible before it's hilarious).
But now the clearing out has reached my social fields. And this is where it can kind of suck.
Here's a glass-case scenario -
Recently, I was invited to an exclusive event within a particular sect of our local community. I had mixed emotions about it from the get-go, and the more I thought about it, the more my ego battled it out with my code of ethics, making everything blurry. It went down like this:
I would be a fool not to go. There are going to be hundreds of people who would die to be invited to this, and it was super sweet of this person to think to include me. And I love the artist who's playing, so I gotta go to support him, right? Plus, I gotta keep up the cool cred! If I don't go to this, people are going to start noticing and they're going to stop inviting me to places and parties and things. And then I'm going to be the loser who's looking in from the outside, wistfully remembering when I used to get invited to stuff like this.
Fuck exclusive events. It goes against everything I stand for. There are a million other places and events I'd rather go to than another circle jerk where everyone gets to stand around and congratulate one another on how cool they all are for having been invited to something that is specifically designed to make other people feel less-than by comparison. I can thank the person who invited me and let them know I appreciated the invitation and then support the artist another way - it doesn't have to be through an event where I'm going to feel uncomfortable and am only going to for arbitrary reasons.
Once I started having this conversation with myself, I started thinking about the other areas in my life where this sort of ego vs. ethics battle was showing up. Mainly, Facebook and Twitter. Stuff like, That person bugs me, but I don't want to unfollow them because they're important and I like that they follow me. And what if I unfollow a bunch of people and I end up isolating myself that way?! What if I start unfollowing people and my social world starts to slowly close in on me, until I'm nothing but a shut-in, a hermit, a social loser with no friends? What if I unfollow that person whose updates I can't stand and I miss out on opportunities? Or hurt their feelings. Or sever what could be an important relationship.
Yeah. It's crazy how gross this stuff is once it's uncovered or said out loud.
Some of it comes from a place of good, because it stems from empathy or the desire not to hurt other people's feelings. I defer to that when it comes to people following me - I wanna follow them back because I don't want to hurt their feelings, even though in the long-run they're making my feeds and networks miserable. And for a long time I felt like, since I was getting better at being more kind and mature and not immediately telling people what a bunch of assholes they were being when they bugged me and the rest of their followers with their negative, manipulating, braggy, or just plain annoying updates, that I was making progress and that was enough for now. But now that I'm really careful about my energy and the things that trip it from positive to negative, I've noticed an immediate energy shift when it comes to certain people in my feed. And I get resentful, when it's the same people who keep plying that energy from good, happy, "I love everyone on the internets!" vibes to "God, why are you such an asshole all the time?!"
So enough was enough. And I realized a few things -
1) Why is it always the abstract "what if" that gets me? And why is it always a future fear that comes up first? Why can't it be a "What if this ends up being the best decision I ever made in my entire life, and it opens up a bunch of doors that I wouldn't have even noticed were there before because I was too busy giving so much attention to this person?"
2) When did I get so fucking wussed-out over what other people think?
3) If peeps have been in my network this long and I have yet to gain value from their presence...it's time to hit the bricks.
So I didn't go to the exclusive event. I heard it was great, and the people who went seemed to really enjoy themselves, and that's genuinely awesome. But I felt so at peace with my decision that it's probably going to be a standing one for anything else that purports itself as "exclusive" or "VIP"...(besides, if you're only going to invite certain people, why not just call it a private party instead of designing it as a deliberate event that those not invited know about and then are made to feel badly about it? That stuff bugs me to the max. Also, has anyone else noticed that VIP lounges are super fucking boring?)
And I've started to weed out my feeds. Sometimes it's personal - if noticing you in my feed continually triggers that less-than-fresh feeling, (in the words of Patti Stanger) ya out! - and sometimes it's just a matter of whether or not there's true value there, for either of us. And I still feel weird about this, because it goes against long-held habits and thinking processes and that automatic fear/what-if reflex. But once I've cleared even a little bit of space in my feeds, I feel so much better. Like I like Twitter again. And that Facebook isn't like high school all over again, where I'm forced to socialize with certain toxic people because we're all stuck in this singular space together. Also, because my feed isn't so heavy with the negative, now it has much more room for updates I want front and center (mainly updates about magistical unicorns and screen shots from the movie "Magic Mike.")
So yeah. Next up? My how-to on creating lasting world peace! I think I really got it in the bag this time, everybody. The plan includes Oprah, Hilary Clinton's Pinterest board, Aziz Ansari's Twitter Feed, and a world-wide pizza party if we meet our peace goal.