I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I stopped being proud of myself.
For the big things, for the little things. For all the things, really. I lost touch with the side of myself that revelled in the joy of making progress, with meeting a goal, even with overcoming a fear of something. Small victories or large, they were all lost on me in a way. Because at some point, being “proud of myself” became synonymous with “bragging”. And “bragging” was something that insufferable assholes did. I was hell bent on never being “one of those” people. I never, ever wanted to get to a point where anyone could ever say that I was arrogant, or full of myself, or… gasp, a bitch.
Once I joined social media, that fearful, suffocating thought process only intensified. I would scroll through other people’s feeds and see example after example of people showing off, the ultimate displays of materialism running rampant, and that deeply ingrained need in me to “stay grounded” swelled up until I shrunk down to nothing. I did it online, and I did it more importantly in real life. My self-deprecation became habitual and cutting, I began preemptively and unnecessarily explaining myself when I felt even the tiniest inkling to share good news with friends, and worse yet… my inner monologue sounded worse than any middle-school bully’s most dreadful diatribe. “Who do you think you are?” became a mantra I didn’t want but couldn’t shake.
And then came 2020. The world hit pause and so did I. It was time to finally unpack the uncomfortable and painful truths of all of my belief systems, including this one. Who did I think I was?
I was a woman who had been indoctrinated with the belief that to be proud of myself out loud was boastful and wrong. That it made other people uncomfortable when I succeeded. That I was “a lot to handle” because of who I was as a person and what I had accomplished. That in order to be loved, there were pieces of me I had to put on mute. That I could never embody my wholeness because in doing so I would be “intimidating”, or “threatening”, or “unpalatable”. That if I spoke openly about what made me feel pride in myself and my journey, I was living from ego. So I let mine disappear. I don’t ever want to make anyone feel bad. I have never
intentionally hurt anyone. Except… myself.
None of those things I believed are true. And yet I had fashioned my whole life, all of my relationship dynamics after that erroneous perspective.
I wanted so badly to be loving and to be loved back, that I was willing – not to compromise – but to sacrifice all that I was, because I believed I had to. I was afraid to shine. And I felt shame when I did. The shame of shining created in me was potent and powerful, so much so that it felt like if I didn’t find a way to release it, the soul of me would, at some point, die. One day, the pain it created would swallow me whole, and the person I was meant to be, who was always struggling to burst through to the surface would be gone forever. And the idea of that scared me more than losing any friends did.
With the mandatory pause of last year, I found the courage to reintroduce myself to the real me – the me I lived with every day and kept silencing for other people’s comfort. The me, unattached from the endless external programming I’d been downloading for far too long. And a miraculous thing happened…
When I stopped apologizing for who I was, for what I had achieved, for my life and how I lived it… When I stopped apologizing for how I dreamt, and what I thought, and what I needed from people in my life, everything changed. With a BOOM.
I realized very quickly how many dead plants I had been watering. How many people I had allowed to gather in my life who only further validated that bad tape that had been on a loop in my head since I was a teenager because it benefited them for me to shrink; for me to play unsure, and keep quiet, and not ask for anything, to be humble to a default, to pass credit where it wasn’t due, to be “too sweet” to say a word when boundaries were missing and lines were crossed. Nah. That tape – Those people – That thinking – All of it had to go. And it did.
The truth is not everyone is for me, and I’m not for everyone. And that’s okay. But bending and molding yourself to be everything to everyone and not ruffle any feathers is a surefire way to make your unique individual light get snuffed the fuck out. I know “flexing” means something completely different nowadays. Social media makes it easy as pie to be, quite literally, anyone you want online whether it’s real or not. You can put your best foot forward, and you can show off your expensive shoes while you’re at it, whether you really own them or not, whether you really like them or not, and no one is the wiser. That’s a whole other can of worms. But what if we decided (even if it’s just for one day at first) to stop pretending to be who we aren’t, and start embodying who we are? To acknowledge what we’ve worked hard to create? To stop pretending we know nothing when we actually know a lot? To feel proud of ourselves, IN REAL LIFE? To stop spending more time curating our feeds than we do our actual lives, and start showcasing and “flexing” our authenticity? Don’t you want to stop playing small? I do. I’m over it.
Listen, if who you are and what you’ve achieved makes some people uncomfortable (and trust me, it WILL)… so what? Other people’s reactions to you and your life have more to do with them – and their deeply buried shit – than you. So if anyone’s gonna call you “arrogant” or “intimidating” or… gasp, a “bitch”, because you no longer participate in pretending you haven’t done shit, and you ain’t shit, maybe that’s on them. There’s a huge chasm between acknowledging the truth of your existence, and being an arrogant asshole. So please. Don’t edit yourself like an instagram photo and filter yourself to get people to “like” you. Be who you are. Be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you bust your ass to build and create. Acknowledge when you’ve achieved a dream so you can keep moving forward and have beautiful new ones, no matter what they are. Take up space. There’s no need to shrink to “fit”. You deserve to be here. You deserve to create a life you’re proud of no matter what it looks like and no matter what anyone says about it. Define your own awesome and “flex” that on the
world. Be proud of who are and who you choose to become, on your own terms. Some people won’t like you and that’s okay. At least you’ll know without a shadow of a doubt, the ones who DO, like the real YOU – in all your imperfect, hardworking, go-getter, glory. Keep go-gettin’ em.
And do it out loud.
Actress. Writer. Dedicated dog mom and coffee enthusiast. Tina Majorino began her career in the spotlight when she was a little girl and has been known for her roles in When a Man Loves a Woman; Corrina, Corrina, Napoleon Dynamite and Veronica Mars, among others. Tina is also a writer. She began creating scripts when she was young and has only developed her love and talent through her life experience. When she’s not working, Tina’s life revolves around her role as a dedicated dog mom and coffee enthusiast.