You scare me.
If college has taught me anything— besides how to get ready in five minutes even with an agonizing hangover— it’s that people scare the shit out of me.
And by “scared” I don’t mean to the same caliber of snakes, spiders, or the creepy clown at the snot-nosed preschooler’s birthday party. This breed of “scared” doesn’t evoke a blood-curdling scream or send me running for the hills, but rather, the opposite. The fear that I experience in college materializes as a dull ache in the pit of my stomach. It comes and it goes, and sometimes it causes me to stop dead in my tracks.
People scare the shit out of me.
I’ve grazed the surface of this subject many times, often opting to swiftly jerk my hand away from it like a hot stove. “Oh Katy, don’t talk about the subject of pleasing other people,” an internal voice warns. “It’s not empowering. It’s not sexy. It makes you look weak.”
Here’s the deal: I can wear the mask of “look at me! independent woman! comfortable in my own skin! doesn’t care what anyone thinks!”
I can place it triumphantly over my face, secure it with a ribbon behind my head and convince myself that I’m not even for a second concerned with others’ opinions of me. I can post photos and videos online, provoking strangers to believe that I am not afraid of anything. I can throw back a perfectly-groomed head of hair and laugh in public, wear thoughtfully-curated outfits and radiate an air of confidence with every graceful step.
But what happens when the mask falls? What happens when the facade crumbles?
What happens when I’m too exhausted to keep up the act?
As some say, when cracks form, that’s how the light gets in. For me, however, it instills a sensation similar to how I’d imagine it’d feel to be slammed by a truck traveling at 90 miles per hour.
People— and what they think— scares the shit out of me.
No matter how much I try, I do care. I choose my words wisely, rolling them around in my mouth like a breath mint before speaking. “Do I sound smart? Do I sound confident? Am I funny enough? Am I being too blunt?” By the time the words materialize after all of this silent contemplation, I’m not even sure if they belong to me anymore.
Do I even mean half the things I say? Or am I just saying them because they’re what is expected of me? Because they’re what people want to hear?
Some days I push back, convincing myself that everything I do is in fact done with personal intention. I close my eyes and imagine every word I say and action performed branded with the glossy black ink of a “PROPERTY OF KATY” stamp.
But then I find myself in a humid, crowded room, beer foam sloshing under my feet, bass ringing in my ears as I hear myself say, “ugh this party is awesome!” leaning towards a boy who— in his current state of intoxication— probably couldn’t distinguish me from a sweet potato… Was the party “awesome”? Eh, not really. You know what’s awesome? Standing at the top of the Eiffel Tower overlooking all of Paris. Watching your Mom kick cancer’s ass. Getting an A on a test you spent all night studying for. All things that I’ve experienced, yet I choose to articulate “ugh, this party is awesome.” Hah.
It’s like the wrong guy leaning in, about to kiss you. You could either take it head-on or pull a Rihanna at the 2016 VMA’s and turn away. Poor Drake.
There’s one voice in your head exclaiming, “Mayday! Mayday! This isn’t right! SOS!” while another is saying “Eh, relax, it’ll be over in like 15 seconds and then you can tell all your friends about it tomorrow if he’s cute.” I imagine the first voice is the-overprotective-Mother-type in a turtleneck and pearls while the other is wearing sunglasses, smoking a cigarette in a trench coat.
I often find myself living my life in autopilot strictly because I’m scared of upsetting the balance. I don’t want to rock the boat. I don’t want to give anyone reason to talk about me.
I've ruined myself for a lot of people who aren't even worth it.
But then there’s Taylor Swift.
Her recent single “Look What You Made Me Do” upset the balance. It provoked people to accuse the songwriter of “turning cold,” “acting petty,” and “giving women a bad name.” The years of writing songs about love stories, slammin’ screen doors and wild dreams slipped quietly out the door. All that remains is a diamond-clad young woman, addressing her past demons and wielding a fiery sword at those who have wronged her.
People say that Taylor’s changed. Sure, she might’ve. (“The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause she’s dead.") But then again, perhaps Taylor’s “new fire” has been there the whole time, simmering somewhere deep down, but she was too busy pleasing everyone to rip off the mask.
You might not agree with her methods, but newsflash: it shouldn’t concern you anyway. We have more critical things to be debating about than Taylor Swift’s bathtub full of diamonds, alright? Let her be.
We can’t let the judgment of others extinguish our flame.
Maybe it’s about time that we start saying what we mean.
Maybe it’s about time we start doing what we want to do.
Maybe it’s about time we take that darn mask off.
Who were you before you they broke you?
Before the thought of disappointing them forced your hand?
Be. that. person.
10/10/2017 04:36:22 pm
What a beautiful and perfectly written post. Thank you for everything you've done for me because of your infulence on my life these past couple of years xo
10/10/2017 04:38:10 pm
10/10/2017 04:41:37 pm
I always read this with your voice in my head. Absolutely loved it, you always speak the truth Katy.. that being said, now I'm going to sip my tea and read one of r.h. sins books ♥️
10/10/2017 05:23:02 pm
Really enjoyed this post Katy! It's easy to become fixated on others perception of you, and difficult to not let that influence your actions and words. It's definitely something I've stuggled with for a long time (especially as a business student where image is taught to be so important). This post is so honest, and even though you're 'scared' there's no reason to change who you are - which is seemingly a very reflective and considerate woman. Reading this made me think of the quote "I'd rather be honest than impressive". Thanks for writing these posts and reminding me that there's many of us who experience these underlying issues. Kudos to you for acknowledging your fear and trying to do something to fix it - You go girl!
10/10/2017 05:41:15 pm
I absolutely loved this post. Was really wise, mature and strong. I loved it. Rip the mask off. No one ever was happy trying to please others. Please yourself by doing whaterver you want and saying what you actually think.
10/10/2017 07:03:22 pm
I feel every word in this post
10/10/2017 07:26:40 pm
My family plays this Who Knows (enter family member here) for every birthday dinner. A couple of years ago, it was my Aunts turn and she was asked what age she would go back to if she could choose. My cousins and I all chose between 18-25. She answered 33. When asked why, she explained that by then, you have shit figured out, you're not so in your head, and you're just more comfortable being you. Since then, I've started looking forward to being in my 30s cause the thought of not obsessing over every little thing and just living sounds awesome. Much love to you, Katy!
10/10/2017 09:04:04 pm
Amazing, Katy 💕 Thank you so much for this.
10/11/2017 01:10:03 am
Couldnt have said it better! ♡
10/11/2017 05:58:14 am
I enjoyed and related to every word you typed up! Keep being awesome❤️
10/14/2017 06:09:45 am
Thank you Katy ! That’s all that I can say. This post was what I needed today.
I love the way you look at things and how you're able to articulate them. Keep being honest and facing that fear of people. I'm sure people say you're inspiring all the time, that's because you have a way of connecting with people and communicating truths about this human condition we all live with. I hope I will be able to grow into a writer as strong and insightful as you are. We can all tell how hard you work, especially considering how busy college is (trust me, I know). Mostly I guess I just want to say thank you!
11/14/2017 07:22:50 pm
I loved this. I feel the same way but just never knew how to explain. :)
12/4/2017 03:11:39 pm
This is amazing!
Hi Katy, as always, very on point. I love reading your posts because I feel like they resonate so well with the pained voice of our generation. To be honest, you were the inspiration behind me starting my own peronal blog, and it would mean THE WORLD to me if you took a second to read one of the posts because I feel like you'd understand my point of view so well <3
“We can’t let the judgment of others extinguish our flame.”
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