I love staring into space and thinking. It is one of my very favorite things, but I couldn’t admit that before last year. I used to see the time I laid in bed to mentally comb through issues both frivolous and existential as the hallmark of a lazy person. I called it wasting time. I felt shame about it.
Then, this time last year, I was teaching a class at a university and also working a full time job. I was deprived of time to think. I felt scattered and overwhelmed.
I felt a hell of a lot less like myself.
I’ve written about being the woman I always wanted to be, but there’s also accepting the woman that I am. I am short and that’s something that won’t change. I have curly hair and although I can straighten my hair via chemicals or a blowout for less than $50 (thank you Dominican salons and DryBar), I was born with curly hair.
I am short. My hair is curly. And in 2015, I finally admitted to myself that I am a person who needs to spend hours doing nothing but thinking.
But, somehow admitting that was hard.
I’m in the process of some re-evaluation of the direction of my career and in re-evaluating I’ve realized, I hate administration. Details are not my strong suit, but big thinking I love, hence all that staring into space.
Organization is just as much a skill and talent as writing and if someone says to me, I hate writing, I don’t look at them like they’re a lazy good for nothing. So, why for years have I felt ashamed of myself and thought I saw shame in the eyes of others when I told them: I hate organizing?
Maybe because being yourself is an act of courage and most of us lose our nerve.
In my elementary school in the suburbs of Maryland, the teachers would roll out rickety metal carts with projectors on it and the movie reels would flicker out images of Free To Be You and Me, a 1970s television special and album with Marlo Thomas and Friends (like Harry Belafonte and Alan Alda and Rosey Grier) telling you that you were free to be the person you were: a boy who liked dolls or someone who needed a good cry. You could be a multitude of things in the world as long as they were true to who you were.
The message was created for children with small words to convey the meaning and simple songs for sing-alongs. But, when I watched scenes with my boyfriend a couple weeks ago (no rickety metal stand or film flickering only the occasional buffering from YouTube) and watched Roberta Flack and Michael Jackson sing, “We don’t have to change at all,” seems like Marlo Thomas was planting a message in children that could be re-activated the whole of their lives.
“You mean, I can be me and that’s okay?” I might have asked sitting cross-legged on the carpet in second grade.
And it’s a question that I can ask myself now, that I probably should ask myself more often. I could ask it when I’m getting dressed, when I’m writing, when I’m planning the next phase of my life.
“You mean, being me is a good thing?” Yes, all-grown-up Camille, it is.