Sometimes I feel like our instincts steer us in the wrong direction and the times we really make headway in our life is when we ignore them and do the opposite. When someone pulls away from you, your instinct is to grab onto them tighter. When you’re feeling excluded, you pout and become someone that people don’t want to include. When you need some attention and you spend an immeasurable amount of energy into getting that attention, someone walks into the room next to you and effortlessly takes the air out of the room. Scream at the top of your lungs about how happy you are and everyone wonders what unhappiness made you feel the need to make a scene. Tell everyone how much you don’t care what people think and it’s all you’ve talked about all day.
I don’t think anyone is immune to this, I think some people are better at bluffing. We have to bluff in order to survive. But imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if you ran into your ex with his new girlfriend and you said, “F**k, it’s really hard seeing you together.” I don’t know if it would bring you any closer to what you want, but I feel like something good has to come out of lining up your feelings with your actions. We can distract people from the truth for a matter of time, but they’ll never really respect you for it.
People feel it when you’re trying too hard, even if you think you’re doing a great job of covering it up. And we assume that it’s off limits to just say what we’re really thinking, but I don’t think it should be. Most of the people who look at you with shock and horror are wishing they were brave enough to say it first. And someone has to be the first with anything, so why shouldn’t it be you? I see people, women mostly for some reason, who have all this stuff bottled up inside and when they decide to “find their voice” they’re like a loose canon just vomiting everything they never said.
I’ve been told by more than a couple people, “Honesty is fine, but you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking, Erin. It’s a little much, not everyone wants to hear it.” And they are entitled to their opinion (sort of), and maybe sometimes I don’t have to announce how many people I’ve slept with and that I spent thirty minutes taking pictures of myself on Photo Booth so that I could tweet a casual “candid” shot that I will pretend someone else took of me. Maybe. But I know that I won’t be sitting at a civilized luncheon with my old lady friends some day when I suddenly have a nervous breakdown and feel the need to scream at them all the horrible shit people have talked about them over the years. I will have my composure, because I let out steam along the way.
It’s important to know that there is a difference between listening to your instinct and listening to your gut. Your gut knows everything. But your gut isn’t cocky. It isn’t loud. It doesn’t force you to listen to it. It subtly lets you know what’s right, and then it gets quiet while you figure it out the hard way. Your instincts are trained habits that you created somewhere along the way. And they are usually just what you’re comfortable with. And some of us are comfortable being unhappy, being taken advantage of, being walked all over, ignored, overlooked, under respected, being made to settle. Your gut tells you the truth, it tells you when something is off. It tells you what no one else will. When you’re walking down the aisle in a wedding dress and looking at the faces of two hundred people expecting you to become Mrs. WhatsHisName and your gut is telling you to run but your instinct is telling you to follow through with it, you’re going to listen to your instinct. It’s the easy path. But three years later when you’ve got a baby on your hip and your husband comes home smelling like someone else’s perfume, your gut is gonna be saying, “I told you so.”
Go against what you usually do. Your friends don’t know anything. They don’t want to be held accountable for giving you risky advice. And all the greatest outcomes were born out of taking a risk. Divert your path. Have little mini nervous breakdowns along the way, so you never end up having one in a white padded room somewhere. Embarrass yourself. Scare yourself. Listen to your gut. That bitch is always onto something.
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