The Big 150: 6, Self - What’s something you’ve let go that once meant the world to you?
Hmm, what *is* something I’ve let go that once meant the world to me? Are all of these questions just meant to be doozies? Seriously. To be fair, I’m a little put off by anything meaning “the world” to me.
It makes me think of every schmoozy Hallmark/Lifetime movie where the hunky dude is all like, “I love you so much. You’re my WORLD.” That’s a lot of pressure, hunky dude. I don’t want to be your world. I want you to have your own little world of interests and quirks and then I can have my own little world of interests and quirks, and then our interesting, quirky worlds can hold hands, form an alliance, conquer our enemies, and float through the universe together, bouncing from star to star like a game of hopscotch. The minute I become entirely your world, hunky dude, I start to think that maybe there’s something a bit off with ya (not to be confused with 'off with your head' as I am not the Queen of Hearts).
Okay, so hunky Hallmark/Lifetime dude aside, I think something I’ve let go of that used to mean a lot to me (and seems to mean a lot to a whole lot of people - and justifiably so! I’m not here to dump on anyone else.. this is my Big 150, remember?) is a need to hyper-define or self-identify. I think it’s helpful at first and when you’re young in order to understand where you fit in with different groups or subsections of society, but I think it can potentially be pretty harmful, actually, because identifying wholeheartedly with a group can often come with a set of assumptions people will make about you as part of that group even if you don’t tick every box or share every belief.
Politics seems like the easiest example to give (*collective sigh*). Because the US operates as a two-party system, the overwhelming majority of the country is registered either Democrat or Republican. Against many a person’s attempt to persuade me, I registered as Independent at 18 years of age and have kept it up ever since. In previous elections over the last 15 years, I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Why is this relevant? (Can we please not talk about politics? Don’t worry, friend, I get it. We’re all most done with politics.) It’s relevant because although people could jump to conclusions about my views based on whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat, it’s a little trickier to parse out how I feel about things without a polarizing political identification. I like not voting for just one party and voting for the candidate who speaks to me the most in any given election (aka who I think will actually do the best job). That being said, people lead busy lives and our brains can only absorb and process so much information, so when people vote along party lines, I don’t believe it’s because of laziness or anything like that. I believe it’s because they identify with what the party broadly represents - even if a certain candidate doesn’t 100% fall in line with his/her party affiliation.
Ok, let’s get away from politics. Let’s look at something maybe a broader audience can relate to: sports! I am a Philadelphia fan, which is an identity I still hold onto and enjoy because it’s not just the teams I support, it’s my home city and it's an attitude. No one likes us, we don’t care. Am I a crazy Philadelphia fan who will cause problems just for the sake of causing problems? No, but most other Philadelphia fans I personally know also don’t cause problems just for the hell of it. Most of us just want to love and support our city and our teams and enjoy the wins, but that doesn’t mean we’ll take crap from anyone, either.
Is there a lesson in here? What was the original question? Oh yes, something important that I’ve let go. Well clearly I haven’t let go of my allegiance to Philadelphia, but I don’t anticipate that’s something that will happen anytime soon. Philadelphia vs. Everybody.
Okay, so here's the lesson-- When you let go of your need to strictly define yourself as part of a group, you can define yourself however you want to with whatever characteristics feel the most authentic to you. It’s how knowing what you personally believe can allow you the freedom to vote for whichever candidate you think would be best for a job or allow you to be the type of sports fan who just really wants to enjoy the game with loved ones. Let it all go. See what happens!
To laughing at politicians and their slippery words, and, obviously, Go Birds,
ICYMI: The Big 150