Careful

There’s this song by Billie Eilish that I consider to be masterful, it’s dark and gritty and not at all what pop music has become. The premise is a monster under the bed and somewhere in the lyrics is a warning, “careful.” We need to be careful with ourselves. I need to be more cautious with myself because when I’m not, I am that monster under the bed. Eilish has another song interspersed with quotes from The Office, a show from which I’d like to borrow a scene to introduce what it is I need to be careful about.

A question I don’t think I’ve heard outside the tone of indigence but if I may ask this politely, to both myself and my readers, softening the traditional accusatory blow the way Michael Scott did with Toby during his exit interview at Dunder Mifflin. Suddenly, Michael couldn’t ask, ‘who do you think you are?’ in his planned manner of contempt with surprise guest Holly present. He clumsily changed his tone as I am now, asking, who do you think you are?

In the age of social media with platforms like Instagram, it is shockingly easy for average people to carve out an image of themselves that they deem fit for the public to see. We have become our own PR representatives, we are all our own celebrities. We do our own public representation. How do we keep that star power up in real life? Does what we say and do match up with our last post? Probably not. Screens are flat and human beings have depth. We are more than a filtered snapshot in time. Our stories are longer than a caption. Perhaps we should focus more on the PR we do for ourselves in real life, instead of what we create on social. What is the impression we leave on others? I can speak for no one but myself and honestly, if I were my PR person, I would fire me. I would fire me for representing myself inadequately. The critiques I have for myself should not outweigh the compliments. No one hires a PR to broadcast their flaws so why do I do that to myself? I am a work in progress as is everyone else but complaining about how I feel a lack of progression helps no one. Great things take time. There is good and there is bad. Do not lose focus. Stand in the light rather than the shadows. Talk to yourself as if you are someone you love. I know these things, I preach these things, I need to live these things fully, regardless of my mood. Feelings change with the wind. So what if I’m late? So what if I forgot to make a call, need to get the dog groomed and I am hours behind on writing? Mistakes do not alter identity. The unfortunate parts of life, the struggles, the everyday frustrations do not determine our worth. Who we are effects people. What we say matters. Our focus can change the mood of the room. People will interpret things in their own perspective but we provide the material for which they will interpret, be it consciously or subconsciously. I am not always pleased with the notes people walk away with on me and that is my fault. At least it’s my fault when I’m too pessimistic to share praise and all I do at the dinner table is list things I hate. How could I be upset if people view me as negative after that? In that instance I was but that is not who I am. That is not what I believe. Why do I insist on representing myself poorly? From what I’ve heard, people don’t see the flaws I see. From what I’ve heard, people see hope in me. I should show them that more often. The world needs more hope and less hate. My excuses for the need to vent are coming to an end, even around those who know me too well. If I’m not truly invested in the negativity I put into the atmosphere, why pollute the environment? Others shouldn’t breathe that in. So what if I want to complain? I also want junk food far too often and I tell myself no because that’s not what’s best for my body. Then I go eat chicken and pretend it’s a churro. Since I’m insistent on doing what’s best for my body, I need to tighten up the restrictions on my mind.

What we believe, we become.-Michael Jackson

By perpetuating the negative aspects that I waste my time thinking about, my audience, those I do life with and those who cross my path, have no choice but to think I am a sad sack because at my worst that is how I behave. That is not the truth. Lying is my least favorite sin so why on earth would I be so foolish as to lie about myself? Instead of staging a meeting and saying, “you’re fired” to my PR person, it might be a better move to first discuss my performance. The formal warning would go something like this:

“Ms. Rose, you’ve done amazingly well in recent months branching out on your employment search, it’s clear you’re really pushing yourself to become,” is what I would say to me in this daydream where I would sit across a long, mahogany table from myself, scanning through the reports in a Manila folder. Becoming is the phase I’m in. “What, I have concern with is not necessarily your future because quite frankly, that looks impactful. I’m concerned with the delays you’re creating. The unnecessary blockades being put up by negative self-talk. We can’t have that. According to your records,” a page in the folder turns, “that does not line up with the evidence. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense. The proof I have here, proof of you using your talents with words of course but also your investment in integrity, building compassion, and generosity to others. You saw a need recently with someone you’ve never spoken to and without a second thought-“

“Don’t mention my good deeds please,” I would say to me. “I do them out of love, not for acknowledgment.” The other version of myself smiles, closes the thick folder and drops it onto the table.

“If you’re so concerned with what’s mentioned about you, can we both agree that you habitually speaking what you lack should not be on your lips?”

“We can. What I have or what I don’t have is not who I am.”

“Agreed. It’s refreshing to hear you say that. It seems what looked to be a termination for false representation needed to be no more than a formal warning.” Relief fills my chest. “That is if we can agree you will be kinder to yourself from here on out. Not doing so is a disservice to yourself Ms. Rose but also, the world.”

“That world? I don’t-

“This is not my opinion Ms. Rose, these are the facts. Can we agree that the representation you provide yourself will improve? Chances like this don’t come around often.”

“Yes, we can agree. I will represent myself according to my identity.”

“Excellent. Meeting adjourned. Now get to work.”

Mistakes do not alter identity.-Genevieve Rose

Who we are is not in what we do or the labels we wear. Who we are is not our background, social class or gender. Those are circumstantial facets of life. I believe I am a child of God. I chose that. I embrace by divine adoption. By doing so I know my identity. Careful. Pay attention to that first part of my identity declaration. It begins with ‘I believe’ meaning, regardless of what you see around you or what presents itself in the mirror, what do you believe about yourself? There are those who don’t even believe in the existence of God let alone tie their identity to Him. Yet I believe I am His child. Ephesians 2:10; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This is the truth of my soul. May my actions catch up. May my impressions be gracious, may my words encourage, may my actions speak louder than what I say. May I become what I believe. Amen. I am and will be, a work in progress but as long as He is working on me, all is well with my soul.

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