Dealing with shame
“I chase the moment that when I had it I felt alive But now that the thrill is gone, I feel dead inside I feel like everyone knows the secrets I wanna hide And every time they ask me how I'm doing, I just say "I'm fine"
Too embarrassed to share it or maybe too much pride I create my own prison, holding the keys inside Punishing myself for all of these crimes And I'm trying to convince God that I'm not a waste of His time
What's wrong with me? Am I defective? I keep on making a mess, why can't I ever get it together? Soon people gon' find out I'm not what they expected They see who I really am then I end up rejected I try to stand tall, but these knees are collapsing 'Stead of asking for help these apps'll distract me So lonely, but so many people are friending me While I post, I hope one day to be happy as I pretend to be”
2020 really happened. I watched loved ones grapple with the state of their mental health and the debilitating effects of shame. It's when you feel...small, embarrassed about where you are in life—an underachiever or just the sense of disappointing people that care about you. Ever been there?
I know this feeling. It comes when your plans just don't—pan out! You look around at your peers and they seem to be, grown-up. They have real jobs. Making real money—not invoicing clients and waiting 30 days from when the project is completed to get paid. But you dust yourself off. Get your head off others and stay in your lane. You keep dreaming, pursuing your passion—going for it.
Then shame comes knocking on your door... You know, it's been over 10 years and you're just getting started. Dude, you can't take out a mortgage on passion. Oh, sorry you're a singer, my mistake, by the way, have you seen your Spotify downloads? Ahh acting, awesome, well Mena Massoud the lead actor in Disney's 2019 Aladin, struggles to get auditions. So who are you? Yes, they like your Facebook page and it's a nice logo but wait, how old are you? Still not married—wow.
“You fly in circles around my head
While I sit on the edge of my bed
I cry, oh, what have I done again?
It's hard not to hate who I am
It's hard not to hate who I am”
Divide and conquer...
Unfortunately, we live in a world of shaming. The destructive type is subtle but accumulates with interest over time. Some call it throwing shade, some call it "I'm just saying..." or it could just be a look someone gives when you mess up. You see, shame makes you feel small. Its M.O is to divide and conquer.
First, it makes you feel alone, so you'll naturally hide emotionally (sometimes physically). Then it conquers your mind by always playing the same song—in a different key and you may not feel its effect until years later.
Back in secondary school, I was good at drawing and I wanted to be a cartoonist until I heard someone say there's no money in it. This is traditionally known as "art doesn't pay". It made me feel like I was hanging onto a child's dream, so hey—I became a graphic designer instead. Good career, but I was kind of shamed into it and in turn, I shamed others too.
There's nothing wrong with you...
When it comes to creativity, we just have come to terms with the reality that we're not that special. The tough seasons and disappointments that come on the journey are not unique to you alone.
We may not be in the same boat but I dare say, we're in the same ocean, with the same waves, currents and sharks. So, stop it—there's nothing wrong with you. Invoices will always be invoices, clients will be clients, you'll win awards, sell-out tickets, they'll love you, then you'll make mistakes, you'll be let down sometimes, no one will care—but it's okay. Nothing new here, we’ve all been there. And hey, if you haven’t—just keep rowing my friend.
Creativity requires courage; the boldness to be vulnerable with your ideas and the audacity to believe you have something worth sharing with the world. Shame will always come to drain every ounce of courage you have. It's the invisible parasite, that slowly leaches on your confidence until you lose the will to dream, imagine or create anything.
Great! Now that we've cleared that up, let's stop shaming people. Don't shame your kids into being the genius your parents tried to make you. Don't shame people into eating healthy because you've just discovered how to make a salad. Chill. Don't shame what people are doing for work because it doesn't match your expectations.
Don't shame those still pursuing their dreams because one day you might need a job. Don’ do it!
And don't shame me by not sharing this blog with someone😎
A short lyric video I made for verse one. All music credit goes to Andy Mineo
Hey, if you enjoyed this post I'd love to know what you think in the comments below. And if you want to share it...because you are an awesome human being, I will understand.