I just finished reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck!. My version would probably called "The Subtle Art of Not Fitting In." They may sound different but they aren’t. I often did not fit in because I did not buy into all those ridiculous unwritten rules about “how one should wear this, not that”, “think this, not that”... you get the picture.
I grew up during the era of “Girls can’t do that!” or “You can’t do that, you’re a girl!” and “Well, it’s different for girls” Believe you me, I did not take this lying down (I know this is not correct grammar - don’t worry I followed the rules that DID matter while growing up and I still stick to that practice in my adult life). I HATE double standards and I HATE being told what I can and cannot do. I also HATE that so many women are taught to tone down their brilliance. The world is a better place when everyone can contribute at their full capacity and can express themselves at their full ambition level. Thank you, Mark Manson. He explains so brilliantly how we tend to follow societal rules without even thinking about it.
My friend, Lisabel, recommended I read this book because we are working on a project together. She is a very successful artist in Montreal and we are collaborating to write her story. During a recent conversation Lisabel tells me “Celine, you have to read this book. It basically describes my philosophy on life.” Being a writer, I do my research. I had come across the book before but my pile of books to read is high and I am trying to be selective about what I add to it. I must admit that I am very happy that Lisabel asked me to read this one.
Turns out, I have also had this philosophy most of my life. Unfortunately, sometimes our resistance to social influence takes a backseat as we get exhausted by the constant fighting. And, when you spend a lifetime being told you are wrong - you start questioning yourself, and even when you still believe you are right - you just start following the crowd because it just is easier. Easier until one day you wake up and realize “This is not me! I am not happy following the masses." I feel like a fraud when I simply follow the sometimes ridiculous, unwritten rules around anything and everything. Not to mention that they seem to multiply like baby bunnies. Let's make it STOP!!!
I spent the majority of my life as an outcast and to be honest, that is where I am most comfortable. That is the honest me. I am not a rebel and I am not trying to hurt anyone, I am not protesting against any particular entity. I am an outcast simply because I choose to live the life that feels right for me. My views are rarely the popular view. I don’t buy into all the media and crazy stories about this one and that one. I try to focus on the things that are important to and for me and my family.
I leave the rat race to those who enjoy it… or feel like that is what they must do. I do not believe in competing against one another. I think we could benefit more from working together. The biggest empires have proven this fact. Large companies only exist when people collaborate together. Ray Dalio talks about this in his book, Principals. We might elaborate on this subject some other time.
In the end, reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck! has driven home the importance of being one’s self. We often lose ourselves in trying to fit in. In doing so, we sometimes forget what is important in the end. The core message in this book is that we should always remember the important things in our lives, not worry about the things that do not truly affect us as a person, and just be the best that we can be while being honest with ourselves and everyone around us.
I would love to read your comments, so please share your thoughts below.
I recently started volunteering with an amazing theater program for kids. The work I do with them allows me to let my creativity flow, but the side effect of this is that my mind wanders around like a gypsy. I am new at this theater stuff. I volunteer here because I love what this program (K2K) is about and I enjoy working with the people that are running this program (love you Jenn and Brian).
So, while I was working on set painting the following words came into my mind “it doesn’t have to be perfect, it only needs to look perfect.” I realized at that moment that being and looking perfect were very different. Being perfect meant that you could look at it from any angle, any perspective and it would remain flawless BUT simply looking perfect meant that it only had to seem perfect from a certain angle.
Funny how an epiphany can it you when you least expect it, anyway - as I was painting I was reminding myself that it did not have to be perfect, it only needed to look perfect from the audience’s perspective. This thought sent my mind wandering to a past relationship where my partner was obsessed with appearances. He always wanted to give a certain impression despite the fact that it was totally false. And boom! I realized many people live this way.
This was an “OMG!” moment for me because I could never understand this. With me, what you see is what you get. Sometimes people make up stories about what they think they see, but I am quite transparent (have always been). Most people are not used to this, so they assume there is more to it - there’s another story behind it. They have a hard time believing that I have built my life myself. Many believe that some man had to have been responsible for the material goods I own such as my house and my car. NO! I did this myself despite the parasitic relationships, despite the blood suckers… anyway. That is a story for another day. Had I been less trusting I would be further ahead on that aspect but live and learn, as they say.
This realization saddened me because I can only imagine the emptiness one must feel living an illusion all the time. It would be like biting into an apple that looks crispy and fresh on the outside but that is completely rotten on the inside. The first reaction is spitting out your bite (rejection), the second reaction is disappointment because you were so looking forward to this juicy, crunchy apple. But worst, after such an experience you will have trouble trusting the apples again. You might even get completely turned off by apples. And then you miss out on all the good, healthy, juicy, crunchy apples. You miss out on the pleasure of biting into the apple and enjoying the flavours, the health benefits, and so much more. All because of ONE bad apple. Wow! Not sure where this came from… but I hope you get the point.
I have seen too many people mistrust good honest people, miss out on relationships that could have been life changing (in a good way) for them. I have seen honest people not get certain jobs because of the people hiring assumed that the resumé was falsified.
When we live with the mentality that “it just has to look perfect”, we create a world full of deceit and disappointment not only for ourselves but for everyone around. Sometimes that reach expands beyond your own circle and affects people that really deserve to be trusted. But worse, you will never fill the void with illusions. To fill the void, you must have a healthy core - it has to be more than just an appearance.
Showing our true colors is scary, but nothing feels better than being our true self. I have never been able to live any other way and, yes, I have felt rejection, disappointment, and many other unpleasant things but then I always knew where I stood with the people around me. This also allowed me to choose my friends more wisely and surround myself with people that accepted me for me and NOT for someone they THOUGHT I was.
Pain is temporary. The benefits of being our true self are permanent. The well-being that accompany being authentic open up a world of possibilities because when people trust you, they also open up to you.
If you build a house of cards, no matter how much you try to disguise it, it will remain a house of cards. If you want a house that will stand the test of time, you have to build a solid foundation.
Life is not a theater, illusions can only work for so long. The actors get tired and stumble and then the gig is up. To live a truly fulfilling life, it does not have to be perfect nor does it have to look perfect. Sometimes our flaws are also our greatest assets. Be true to yourself and others will love you even more for it.
Believe in yourself and others will follow.
Too many subjects are sugar-coated and censored in order to avoid offending others, but I believe that we sometimes need to hear it straight up in order to have an educated view.
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