Almost every Barbie movie that I have seen boils down to one important lesson: “Just be yourself.”
This is preached to my daughter and millions of other views through Barbie movies, Disney movies (even the non-princess ones), PBS kids shows, Nickelodeon shows, the old ABC after-school specials. Everything was about “being yourself.”
And I believe in this concept. I believe in not following the crowd when the crowd is harmful or holding unreasonable or inhumane expectations. I would hope that if I were alive in the Holocaust that I would have been someone who would have worked with smuggling Jews out of hostile territory or would have hidden people in my home or found a way to hide people. I would hope that I would not have been one of the Germans who would have stood to the side and laughed or said nothing. Because in the silence, one is still complicit in wrong-doing.
But the other consistent message that I hear on television, on in the halls of my school, or as I people-watch is the statement that people expect to be accepted for who they are.
Good! I believe in self-advocacy and standing up for one’s self and one’s personal foibles, eccentricities, and personality quirks.
However (yes, the comma-but combination comes into play here), sometimes, change needs to happen, especially when the foibles, eccentricities, and insecurities are toxic to relationships.
Now, before you nail me to the cross of your ire, allow me to explain….
I am insecure. Duh. However, my insecurities that I currently possess are NOTHING in comparison the woman I was ten years ago. I drove people crazy with my need for reassurance. Yes, for those of you who know me, you are probably thinking, And you’re different? Oh, yeah!!!! I am not nearly as bad as I used to be. And I would do the whole “You need to accept me for who I am!” bit.
But, at the same time, I was insisting that my husband change his personality to suit my foibles (love that word…it sounds like something to do with clowns or happiness..only it’s not).
I hear this part all the time. “You have to accept me for who I am! And, in order to do that, you have to change!”
Excuse me? Hello Mr./Ms./Mrs. Pot, may I introduce you to Kettle-Black?
Change is necessary. If I was still the person I was during my adolescence, I would be a nightmare of emotions and miseries and over-dramaticisms (Yes, I really have changed…cut me some slack here and accept me!). If I was still the teacher I was twenty years ago, I would be surrounded with papers while making assignments that were a little unreasonable because I wasn’t taking into consideration the students’ other classes. If….if…if…if
But I’m not that person anymore because…duh..I changed. But the catalyst for that change was someone finally taking up the courage to demand that I change or I would have to experience consequences which were unacceptable to me. And it was hard. Very hard. Not to mention painful, saddening, and humiliating. However, in the end, I am much more satisfied with the person I am today as opposed to looking in a mirror streaked with the mistakes of my past.
But if my mirror is all wonky and such, what about everyone else’s? Surely every person has gone through a point where he/she has been forced to examine and scrutinize all the emotional stretch marks on one’s skin and say, “Enough is enough; time to change. This is…unacceptable.”
I believe in acceptance. I believe that we, as humans, are fraught with flaws and personality quirks that annoy the heck out of everyone including themselves. I believe that any pedestal I may climb is going to be sagging and cracked and broken in many places. And I accept that they are there and I am willing to change and fix as many of those broken parts that exist. But I also know that I will never fix everything. And I have to okay with that, but with that okay-ness, I must also be willing to apologize and make amends for the problems and pain I cause because of my foibles and eccentricities and flaws (oh my!).
For example, I will use my dog because my dog does not read my blog (Thank God that he doesn’t have opposable thumbs or I would be in for it). My dog, Loki, barks at EVERYTHING. A leaf falls….bark bark bark! A person walks out of his/her house, even though he knows them…bark! bark! bark! Someone two doors down farts….BARK! BARK! BARK! An airplane flies overheard…BARK! BARK! BARK! You bet the idea…if not…I’ll tape it for you and send you a copy. Just send me money for shipping and handling and the cassettes….
Now, my neighbors politely complained about the noise my dog makes…which is totally understandable because sometimes he punctuates the barking with a howl or two. Yeah….lots of fun…and by that I mean…NOT!
I could have told my neighbors that they needed to accept me and my dog because my dog needs to warm up his vocal cords and practice his off-key singing daily. Or, I could accept that my dog is a HUGE ANNOYANCE (but he is my beloved huge annoyance) and…bring him in at night. My neighbors accept that I work during the day and that the dog is best outside so that he would not destroy the house. They are gracious in their acceptance that he will bark when the kids play because, if anything, my dog’s barking also announces when strangers are coming into the cul-de-sac which is nice because my dog is also HUGE (and annoying at times) which scares away the strangers who are coming into the cul-de-sac.
But, at night, once the sun is setting, the dog is in the house for the night because his cacophony will not stop because the sun has set and my neighbors have children ranging in age from 1 to 14 and their kids would like to sleep.
My dog won’t change because when people scold him, he just puts his ears down, looks embarrassed and then starts barking once we are out of eyesight. So I had to change.
Sometimes, I can’t change or I won’t change because the change will not work or the person is asking too much of me or the person’s requests are for me to change so that he/she will not have to. Students do this to me when they want me to change from being a teacher who teaches everyday to being a teacher who lets them sleep, play, and party everyday. Yeah, they’re just going to have to accept that I am not that kind of a teacher. Students who find that unacceptable change their classes and go to a different teacher. BYE! Those are circumstances when I had to “be myself.”
But people should not tell me that I have to accept their toxic personality flaws which are harmful to me, my family, the person’s family, the people around them. If that’s the case, then that person can talk to my dog. If they can get a word in edge-wise while he barks at them nonstop.
BARK! BARK! BARK!