Shame on you.
What gives you the right. You? Doing something creative, something daring and honest? That’s not you. You? You didn’t earn it, that’s why. You didn’t go to school for it. Well, go on, do it, say something. Open your mouth, if you can. But you know what’ll happen. The spotlight. You know what the spotlight is, don’t you? Of course you do. So stop now. Just stop. Stop! Look, I’m trying to save you from embarrassing yourself. I’m your friend, you can trust me. Just back away. You have no idea what you’re doing. You can thank me later. Okay, fine. Step into it. And then, when every one of the rest of them who has strength enough to speak or write gives you the god’s honest, don’t come running back to me. Because they know better, that’s why. They always do. Why do you think I didn’t step into that light. You know what, fuck you. How could you do this? What are people going to say? I thought you were better than that. How could you write something like that? Or even think it in the first place? Man you are seriously deranged. What’re your parents going to say, hm? Or your friends? How is this going to look, huh? Well get out of here if you’re gonna. Look at all of the artists out there–who are YOU? There are better people in line waiting for their chance. You’re nothing. You’re too fat, too stupid, too awkward, too weird, and too inexperienced to add a single thing to anything. What do you know about life? You’re just not like everyone else, is the god’s honest truth, man. LOOK AT YOU! Shame on you. Seriously. That’s all I gotta say, I’m done.
Just shame on you.
Shame made you.
So much of our lives are influenced by shame. We’re ashamed of our bodies and our appearances. Multi-billion-dollar companies use shame as the foundation for their profits. Even more intimate institutions such as family, school, and work teaches us to be good little boys and girls, to not run around and make a mess, to not ask challenging questions for the professor, and to never, ever show up the boss, no matter how wrong he or she is.
Our reward for complying is comfort. Our reward is inclusion. Our reward is not even being cool, it’s simply being ‘in’. Toe the line, keep your head down, don’t speak your mind, and do your work, and when you’re old and retired, look at all the things you can do! Buy that car, live in that house, go to those places, live out the rest of your life. Shame-free.
So that little voice in our heads makes us ashamed of breaking from the pack but it also makes us ashamed of failure–an essential tool for creating a true art and an honest life. And most destructively, our shame spins us into a violent cycle: we’re ashamed, and then, being ashamed, we are ashamed of this shame. Then comes our culture with answers and distractions, and it’s no wonder that everyone is happy running in their little caged wheel of social media and social playacting. Being honest was never the plan to begin with.
It’s not easy, but then it’s not supposed to be. Even nature has a stake in your compliance. In human culture, when you go against the grain, you are rejected from the herd. But with nature, we are fighting against continued existence. Nature does not use shame, it doesn’t have to. It uses something far more potent—death. If you are different, you do not last long. Nature is what Schopenhauer described as the Will-to-Life—the instinct in us to procreate as much as we can. To do this, one must conform; we must get the house and the job, make babies, multiply and divide; and then, when one gets old enough, one must die and get out of the way. Life is grander than any pithy human construct such as shame–life is about Being. So when you are different, you are not doing your role, not submitting to your fate. You are an anomaly, a defect, a mutation. If you aren’t part of the solution, after all, you are part of the problem.
To be truly human, you must go past culture and nature to identify with a part of you that is daring. It’s not about being completely different in a way that defies all culture and all nature, because that is impossible. What I’m talking about here is keeping yourself true in a world of falsity, deceit, distorted images, and finally shame. As you grow up and live your life, you are taught to accept the need to change yourself into most of the masses and to deny that unique part of yourself that makes yourself different. To fight it is extremely difficult; and to stay there–to be yourself and to be proud of yourself–is a on-going journey of Self.
Once upon a time, all the polar bears were brown. Then one day, because of a genetic mutation, a white one was born. With the snow and ice the same color has her fur, this little white bear in a school of brown ones was able to catch more food from her hiding places than the others whose prey spotted them against the plain white of snow and were able to escape. This mutation, therefore, carried on her genes to her children, and her children carried it on to their children and so on. Soon, all you saw was white fur in the Arctics.
To them, you may seem a freak, a weirdo, or an abnormality; or maybe it’s something more subtle–you seem too intelligent, free-thinking, confident, and healthy for the likes of them.
To me (you remind me so much of myself), you are simply the first of a new kind of human being. You are not a mistake, you are the new direction. And the more of you there are out here, the more vast and diverse and gorgeous we’ll be as human beings. We are the future.
The old times are dying away too quick for them. For the rest of us, the real majority, it cannot come quicker. But we must be ready to meet the future with daring, with honesty, with love and compassion, and most importantly with pride in ourselves and who we are and what we’re to feel, think, say, and do.
Keep fighting shame.
You’ll soon come to a point where you can laugh at shame, or even thank it, but never let your guard down against it. Once it has bitten you (and it has bitten every one of us) its poison still runs through your veins. This is why so many have died before reaching their potential—shame maybe wasn’t too much for them, they just thought they were immune to it after fighting it. Until your last breath, shame will watch you, even and especially if you leave the herd. Shame whispers in so many timbres and languages and styles. Shame will wear you down if you’re not careful.
To fight it is to take pride in yourself. To embrace the differences within yourself.
Do not be afraid to be the only one in your group to say something or to do something that goes against the current–as long as its for the good, the truth, or the loving.
Take hold of your mantra, whatever it may be.
Think on the young, special, creative, and genius individuals who’ve been silenced by shame.
Fight it. It’s difficult to break away, to find your own genius, and to be truly fulfilled, but it can be done, and when it is done, it will free you.
We unique ones are living among the shamed and shaming mob. ‘Be your own true self’ is our mantra. You can, like us, unmake yourself from shame to recreate yourself in the images of goodness, honesty, compassion, and art..
Shame will always be lurking, waiting. But you can kill that dragon. And that first kill will remind you that you can kill it again and again.
Life is a constant battle. We must search for the truth, we must do more work and spend more money to eat healthy. We must build a resolve and a resistance against distraction, fake news, social playacting, and popular opinion.
You must prepare yourself, you must steel yourself, and you must make your way to life’s battlefields again and again.
But first you must believe in yourself. You must paint the symbol of your honesty and your truth on your shield, you must weld the design of your mind, heart, and soul to your sword’s scabbard.
Be better than typical.
Never let shame unmake you.