Sitting here listening to Rhapsody. Currently on my playlist is a LOT of Lady Gaga, Alanis Morissette, and Adele. It’s a little difficult to explain my newfound fascination with Gaga. This is another one of those, “Well, everybody hates her, she must be cool,” things, I’m afraid. Harry Potter ended up being my absolute all-time favorite children’s stories, and I suspect the only reason I ever read them is because certain groups in the States decided JK Rowling was evil.
Being the perverse individual that I am, I had to read them for myself. I’ve never been good at taking someone else’s word for it, and when I stopped stifling that part of my personality, well, all hell broke loose. All of a sudden, I was researching religion, politics, and pop culture, and I found I was disagreeing with my former view on just about everything.
If you find this disturbing, believe me, it’s nothing compared to how I felt when it first started happening. Harry Potter may have been the beginning of my conscious changes to what I’d believed, but something never quite felt right in my spirit. Gaga isn’t exactly spiritual, but not too long ago, I did some research [idiot!] and found that although her music and videos are pretty weird and borderline offensive even for my newly opened mind, in her interviews, she makes sense. You can tell she has a purpose beyond seeking attention, and that’s what I like about her.
I suspect she’s so over the top because her target audience is the outcast in all of us. That whole Outcast thing resonates with me on a level that’s deep and wide. I think we all have varying degrees of it, but I never really felt like I belonged where I am. I live in a pretty small town in the Midwest, so I’m Bible Belt in Geography, but West Coast in spirit. Sad but true.
The thing is, I always have been. I spent almost 15 years trying to stuff my square self into a round hole and it nearly destroyed my spirit. Sometimes I wonder how things would have been different if I’d never tried to be something I wasn’t, but I can’t complain too much. I have an amazing family and a wonderful husband [who thankfully decided that my 180 degree turnaround on just about everything wasn’t a deal breaker].
If nothing else, at least now I know a little more about who I am. I’m fast approaching 40, so I guess it’s about damn time I figured it out. For a while, I was grieving and had a lot of anger. I felt lied to and betrayed. I was trying to find the exact opposite of everything I’d once believed and embracing that, just because it was opposite. It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the right way to go about things, so I just chilled and decided to wait until the grieving process was over.
I’m not quite there yet, but I’m not so angry anymore.
So back to Gaga. From the outside, it looks like she pulls the stunts she pulls for the attention, and I’d say at least part of it is. I mean, if we’re honest, we all want attention and validation. She can get people to look at her if she’s weird, and for her, it doesn’t seem to matter much if the attention is positive or negative.
For me, I’m more of a positive attention type. I don’t like confrontation or a lot of drama in my outward life. I don’t do the typical female back-stabbing catty bitch thing. Don’t get me wrong, I feel some of that invisible rivalry that all women seem to have with each other, but I don’t like the way it makes me feel, so when the bitch in me looks at another woman and compares her size to mine, or her hair to mine, or whatever, I do acknowledge whatever I’m feeling [in other words, if I’m thinner, cuter, or whatever, I feel smug for a minute…or if she’s cuter, I feel a pang of jealousy] and move on.
Nobody talks about that in public, but I suspect there’s not a woman alive who doesn’t feel that at least part of the time. I have the capacity to be vindictive and mean, selfish and bitchy, obnoxious and argumentative, and there are times when I give in to those parts of my personality. But I’m also capable of being compassionate and kind, self-sacrificing and loving, peaceful and conciliatory. I am darkness and light, and there are days when I am more dark than light.
But ordinarily, I try to focus on the light. I work at being kind, at choosing mercy, compassion and love over being mean and choosing judgment, cruelty, and hate. I don’t always succeed. Not too long ago I was mad enough I wanted to beat the living hell out of someone [whether physically or just verbally…didn’t really matter]. They’d taken advantage of my kindness and betrayed my trust and then blamed me for the whole situation.
In all honesty, I’m still stinging a little. I haven’t quite let go and forgiven them yet. But what I remembered yesterday is that no one comes into your life without a reason. There’s a lesson to be learned, and sometimes those lessons suck. I realized that part of my motivation in being kind was to make myself feel better. I expected the person to be so grateful that I had chosen to be merciful that they would then do what I expected them to.
All I wanted was for them to get better, to deal with an addiction and get over their dysfunction, but what I realized was that this is what I would do if I were in the situation. I’ve already learned about addiction…I know the consequences [and was fortunate enough NOT to have to learn that one the hard way] so I expected the person to learn the same lesson…and right NOW. But the time may not be right for them. I don’t like watching people self-destruct, but even though I genuinely wanted what I saw as best for them, it’s not my place to decide. I became wrapped up in their drama and took some of the burden on myself to try to ‘fix it’. I only wanted to help, but in the process, I forgot to take into consideration whether or not they wanted help.
For me, it’s entirely too easy to take on drama from others and because I care about people, I want to help them deal with their issues. The problem is, a lot of people don’t want to get over their stuff, especially if they find their identity in their crazy. I do that sometimes, too. This is my crazy and here I am, writing about it [although I AM trying to figure it out so I can deal with it and get over it.]
I’ve struggled for years with finding the strength to drag myself out of chronic depression, lack of motivation, constant self-doubt, self-loathing, and a plethora of other neuroses, and there are times when that’s how I identify myself. Maybe that’s part of the reason some of this garbage still lingers. Hmmm.
I’ve managed to conquer some of my issues, but some of them still kick my ass. I know for someone who doesn’t have the problem of wanting something but not quite having what it takes to drag themselves up by the boot straps and go for it, I have to be a hot steaming mess to look at. I would be a trigger for anyone who has managed to fight their way out of difficult circumstances and “make something of themselves” because I’ve had a relatively easy life, and yet I struggle every day to find the willingness to give it another shot to reach my dreams.
And maybe that’s why I like Gaga, and JK Rowling, because they’ve managed to live their dreams, and at least in Rowling’s case, against the odds. Gaga was willing to completely reinvent herself to get what she wanted, and in the process, found a calling to rally the outcast in all of us. To say, “If I can be this weird and over-the-top and still be successful, maybe you’re not as effed up as you think.” In her public antics, I find myself. The Shelbi who wants to be who she really is, and damn the consequences. For someone who cares entirely too much what people think of her, Gaga is an inspiration. I can tell she wants to be liked, but I really think it’s more important to her to be a beacon to the outcasts. To say out loud and proud, “Be who you are, not what people expect.”
I guess my mission for now is to learn how to be who I am, my most authentic self, and stop worrying whether or not you’re going to like me, love me, hate me, or be ashamed of me, and maybe, in my own small way, encourage others to do the same.