Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are you afraid of?

Madonna. One word conjures up so many images, opinions, and judgments. When you add two more: Halftime Show, the world goes crazy! Let me be clear right up front, I love Madonna: always have, always will. But let me tell you why she inspires me as it pertains to living a life of happiness and fulfillment.

When we join this wonderful life experience, from the moment we are conceived to the moment we take our last breaths, we are subjected to everyone else’s opinions, judgements, biases, and prejudices.  The trick is to not let those beliefs influence us. When we are young this is almost impossible. We are heavily influenced by our parents, our siblings, our friends, the media, our society, our teachers, our government and our entire global framework. They send us a plethora of messages; we filter some, but absorb others thus creating an image, an idea about ourselves—who we are and how we fit into the world around us.

We tend to cling to that constructed image of ourselves because when we step outside other people’s expectations and opinions we run the risk of being rejected. Many of us will continue believing something, or saying or doing things that others want to hear or see, just to remain within their comfortable circle of influence. We do this out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of abandonment.

What type of clothes do you wear? What type of house do you want? What type of job is acceptable? Simple questions, but deep inside our choices are typically influenced by others. As a teenager, if you wore different clothes from your friends would your peer group ridicule you, or oust you? If all your friends have big expensive houses with fashionable furnishings, would you buy a smaller home that you could actually afford and place meagre belongings in it? Would you worry about inviting your ‘better off’ friends over for coffee? Do you want to be an artist, a singer, a dancer, a writer, but feel you need to get that executive position to prove to everyone you’ve made it? It’s rare we think this deeply about the motivation behind our actions and decisions. But what is really motivating those choices is fear. When we push against the current, when we stand up for what we want and what makes us truly happy, we risk rubbing those around us the wrong way. We risk censure or possible exile from our comfortable groups, from our comfortable lives.

Enter Madonna. I am quite confident Madonna has fears. And I am sure society’s condemnation of her actions on occasion has smarted considerably. But it has never stopped her from doing what she wants to do. It has never stopped her from being who she really is. She has passion, she has vitality—and she has guts. Guts to step outside of society’s comfort zone, guts to push against other people’s opinions and judgments. She may have fears, but she doesn’t let them stop her.

A lot of the backlash I read about her performance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show stemmed around her age. At fifty-three apparently she needs to pack it all in and stop performing. Stop doing something she loves, stop engaging in something that invigorates and enlivens her. I hope at one hundred years old none of us stop doing what it is we enjoy—what it is we genuinely love.

Don’t let fear of rejection stop you dead in your tracks. Don’t let fear detract from what you want to do in life. Don’t let it influence who you want to be. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, removed from everyone else’s expectations and judgments. Get out there on your own personal stage and give this life experience the best damn show on earth: YOU! 

In gratitude,

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