Last night my beautiful baby brother graduated from high school. The ceremony was held (this is starting to sound more romantic and lavish than it was, when really we were parked on crappy bleachers surrounded by insane Garfield families throwing crackers hooting and hollering and drilling the name AISHA into my poor Grandma’s ear repeatedly, but not enough for me to miss her say, “there sure are a lot of Muslims here”) at memorial stadium, which would have been great if it was June but it’s December in Seattle so it was cold as tots. (I’m typing this on my iPhone and it autocorrected tits to tots, keepin it!) After the kids received their diplomas (blank paper in a fancy book…congratulations, you get nothing) we headed to the fountain to meet Will for pictures.
Earlier, before the ceremony, my mother and I walked to the same spot to keep warm while we waited for the 8:00 startpoint. She looked at the fountain and as though instantly flooded with memory turned to me and said, “I have a distinct memory of when you were in middle school and we came down here in the summer, and you ran down into the fountain with outstretched arms and started twirling and twirling in the water, I think it was one of your free hippy love stages…and you had this look about you like, ‘I’m a hippy, I’m so free!’ And every once and a while I’d catch you peeking out of the corner of your eye, just to make sure everyone was watching.” I laughed and told her that was typical. She responded that it’s typical of any 12 year old girl, and I shook my head and said, “No Carol, I mean of me. I still do that. I know I’m awesome, but I still keep one eye open to make sure everyone else knows it too…what’s that about?” She proceeded to say it was like that saying, if you’re awesome but no one sees it, are you really awesome? Pretty sure that saying refers to a tree, mom, but I rolled with it. If no one sees how awesome you are, are you really awesome?
I work especially (I chose especially because I think I work harder than the rest of you lazy fuckers) hard NOT to care what other people think of me. I do a fairly good job making a fool of myself in public, screwing with strangers (not to be mistaken with screwing strangers, that’s just a Sunday Drive kind of thing), and shrugging off people who don’t like me (well I assume I’d be good at it, but it’s never happened!). A big chunk of my brain is still fixated on not if people like me, but how much they like me. I’m not assuming everyone likes me, I can’t be everyone’s cup of warm hot cocoa with fresh whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles on top. I’m not concerned with the black and white: I’m looking for a degree, a measurement of affection. If I go to a party, I best be in high demand for conversation. If I change my profile pic, I want urrbody to like it. (literally, push the like button, everybody likes Facebook notifications.) If I’m cruising down the block (way cooler than the street, turn on the radio) people oughta compliment my swagger; it’s very difficult carrying such heavy baggage all day, and a girl needs a shout out. You may be starting to think I’m insecure, or if you don’t understand sarcasm a) You may think I’m a cocky slut and b) Stop reading my blog.
But I digress. I think its almost impossible not too seek affirmation of awesomeness, and if you don’t get a little ego boost everytime someone tells you you’re fantastic then you’re either clinically insane or you’re superhuman and I envy you. I should probably think less about how much people like me, and as the years go on I have learned to be my own affirmation. But I think there’s more to a compliment or acknowledgement than an ego boost: if you’re not peeking out of the corner of your eye you’re not willing to discover that there are people around you who think you’re just as awesome as you do. One of the quickest ways to build relationships is from common interest, and if you’re not open to seeing who notices how awesome you are you’re missing out. Of course not everyone is going to think a sopping wet fully clothed 12 year old girl is free loving and wonderful, in fact most people were probably concerned that my parents had abandoned me there to deal with my pre-adolescent drug addiction. (Middle school was tough for everyone, OK?) But I believed I was the most open hearted little lady to step foot in that fountain, and if there was someone else who could believe it with me I wanted to find them.
After my mother misquoted the tree aphorism, I told her that I believed the only person who decides if you’re awesome is you, and whether people hear the tree fall or not, the tree definitely fell. (I know it’s supposed to be about the tree making a sound, but that didn’t serve my point so I fudged it. If Carol can do it, so can I.) Maybe my obsession with affirmation is a little unhealthy, but I don’t go fishing for compliments and a little self-doubt hasn’t killed me; I’m a lot more secure with my awesomeness than I was a year ago, and it’s simply due to the fact that I’ve declared it (there was no formal declaration, but I’ve said it enough to myself and my mom that it has to be considered legally documented) and if I believe it someone else can too.
Lefron story short, I’ll be dancing in the fountain for the rest of my life, and if you want to join me I’ll have one eye open.