I have written often about how I admire Lady Gaga for being brave enough to be her genuine self, as reflected in my articles Why I Like Lady Gaga So Much and Lady Gaga Does It Again! Now I want to share some of my own history and experiences in this regard.
I remember being a junior in high school and seeing some people, mostly girls but also some guys, begin wearing what is called a pucca shell necklace. It would seem ridiculous today, but it was kind of cool back then. I was a shy teenager, so the thought of getting one was a little daunting. I was already starting to be a workout guy, so what would my workout buddies say about it? I was nervous about people’s reactions. Despite these misgivings, off to the mall I went to look for one. After choosing the one I liked, I remember briefly walking away from the counter to think more about whether or not to actually buy one. I wanted to, but I also worried a lot about potentially being ridiculed. I remember then saying to myself, “If you aren’t willing to do things like this, you will forever confine yourself to being defined by others. No, I’m not going to allow that to happen. I’m going to be strong enough to live my life my way, whatever that is, and let the chips fall where they may.”
So I bought the necklace and wore it to school the next day.
And yes, I took some crap for it. One guy even said I looked like a fag, and I just told him to go f*ck himself.
Ever since then, I have been living my life (mostly) my way. I continue to work out every day in the gym, even though most of my friends don’t exercise much and don’t really get it. I have also become an accomplished baker, which would seem to be at odds with the whole macho workout thing. But so what? I learned to bake as a child from my mom, and I continue to find it creative, interesting, and enjoyable. When I used to drink alcohol, my beverage of choice was a Cosmopolitan, which is considered by many a “girlie” drink. So what, I like sweeter drinks, and still think whiskey tastes like medicine. And last, but not least, I listen to Lady Gaga, of all things. My metalhead friends from high school just can’t understand how I can have her Fame CD right next to my Black Sabbath Volume 4 CD. I don’t know, I just like both. Should I need to explain why?
In how I conduct and present myself, I’m not at all saying that I’m the bravest person around, by any means. I’d kind of like to wear cooler eyeglasses, and maybe more upscale clothes, but I hesitate because I know most of my family and friends don’t seem to value such things and, again, I worry about being criticized. So I still have some boundaries that I have been unable to push through.
You might choose to ask yourself, are you being your genuine self as often and fully as possible? Or do you allow friends and society to limit the true and complete expression of yourself?
When I am confronted with whether or not to push myself outside the boundaries that are set for me (or, I suppose, that I set for myself), I force myself to think, what’s the alternative? To live someone else’s life, and live a lie? That seems like a really lousy and sad way to spend the only life I will ever have.