When I get sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead.
– Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
*WARNING: This essay contains excessive use of the word awesome.
Last year, a friend introduced me to the show, How I Met Your Mother. If you haven’t seen it, you really should stop everything you’re doing and give it a look. Well, wait…maybe finish reading my blog, and then give it a look! I was a late bloomer to this show. It has been airing since 2005, and it is really quite hilarious. To give you a super light, quick snapshot; it is narrated through a voice-over from the year 2030, by one of the main characters, Ted. He is telling stories to his children about time spent in his mid-30s in New York, with his four best friends. Each episode is a new story and the ultimate tale will be about how Ted met the kids’ mother. They are muddling through much of the stuff those in their 30s do; dating, relationships, marriage, jobs, children, happiness. One of those friends, Barney Stinson, delivered the words that provided the motivation for this essay.
Now, Barney is a bit of an opportunistic, manipulative guy. He always wears suits, is a bit of a womanizer, and loves to create sticky situations for his friends and watch them flounder around as they try to escape. Though Barney delivers words regularly that are highly entertaining, inspiring is not a word that you would probably attach to Barney. However, after watching the episode where he gave the advice above, it actually did really get me thinking.
It is pretty much a theme throughout the show that Barney thinks he, himself, is awesome. And, he is fully comfortable with telling others just exactly how awesome he is.
How many people truly feel comfortable saying that with the same authentic belief as Barney?
I am awesome.
Feels a little weird. Unless I’m joking around, I’m not totally comfortable saying these words out loud. How about you? Could you at least think it, privately, to yourself? Maybe…sometimes?
But wait, this is our life. Don’t we want it to be awesome? If we are sad, wouldn’t we rather be awesome instead? When we feel awesome, we should want to share it.
What does AWESOME look like?
Our ideas of awesome will probably all look very different, and I would imagine very little like Barney’s idea of awesome. But, we should probably figure out what awesome looks like for ourselves. Even if you are feeling awesome now, what’s making you feel that way? Is it something inside you? Is it something external? How do you keep it or get more?
It’s hard to want something, to aim for something, or even keep something, if you can’t define it. Figuring this all out is not something that will happen in one moment, and it is not a stagnant definition. It is likely a dynamic, shifting, growing definition…we change and our awesome might change with us. It’s a moving target. Challenging. But, that’s ok. It is a way of living, a life pursuit. It’s an exciting mission to seek our awesome.
Though all this is certainly food for thought, it is not my call to action today.
A Call to Action
What Barney’s words really got me thinking about were the things we do that hinder this charge, this mission to find our own awesome; and I decided it has to stop.
First, we need to get rid of the yardsticks many of us carry around to compare our awesome against. Some of this comes from how we were raised or our social groups, even media’s different definitions of awesome. Some of it is just internal beliefs we may have created about how an awesome life should look. Now parts of this may be wrapped up in our morals and our core beliefs. Those pieces are different, and each of us must figure out for ourselves those things that are most sacred to us. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the beliefs that we may have about how we think things should be, or how things should go, or how we should behave.
These yardsticks serve no purpose. We cannot and should not be comparing our awesome to anyone else’s. It doesn’t matter what awesome looks like, it only matters how it feels. And what makes me feel awesome is going to be different than what makes you feel awesome. So measuring this against others has no place. Comparison actually keeps us from finding our own personal definition of awesome. So, how do we get rid of these yardsticks? We must begin with acceptance. The very first step in throwing out these yardsticks is to stop judging others as they work to find their awesome.
We must not be awesome squelchers.
I am not proud to admit it, but I believe I have definitely squelched some awesome. Unfortunately, it can be part of our conversational patterns with others and can unknowingly become a habit of thought. “Can you believe…”, or “I can’t believe so and so…(insert any number of behaviors: quit their job to do _______, moved without a job, left the city and moved to a small town, went backpacking through Africa and stayed, took their kid out of school, or left work to travel, fell in love too quickly, is dating someone too young, too old, or too_______, is having a baby, or decided not to have babies….you get the point).
If people are UNHAPPY from these circumstances, sure we can help them out and share an opinion. That’s what friends do. But, if the only thing wrong is how WE feel ABOUT hearing that news, or how it doesn’t fit into how WE would do things, well then that’s another story. That would be awesome squelching.
This also goes for the “I told you…” thoughts that can sometimes creep in even if we were able to keep our thoughts to ourselves the first time. Whether a person’s actions lead to a happily ever after, or it leads to someone being laid out in bad shape, these are people’s pursuits at awesome. They were brave. They were not sitting on the sidelines, they were living. And no matter how it turns out, they tried and they are learning.
So to all my friends and family whose awesome I may have squelched, I truly am sorry.
This is my charge moving forward: If any thought creeps into my mind of the awesome squelching variety, I’m aiming to cease it, block it! It will not enter my brain! No more! Fin!
Well…..actually, as I’ve said before, thought elimination is not my strong suit. SO, more realistically, I’m going to aim to at least just let those kinds of thoughts pass right through my brain without comment. I’m not even going to judge myself for the thoughts popping up. I think it’s normal. I am just going to make a concerted effort to no longer give those thoughts credence or voice. I may not be immediately successful with this, but it is my goal and what I am truly going to work towards achieving.
It’s hard enough to find our awesome, let alone be brave enough to act our awesome. When we meet someone, or when we ourselves have reached a place where we are feeling bold enough to DO something differently, and try something new; when we are reaching for our own home-grown variety of awesome, let’s help each other out and support one another.
We need to take judgement out of the equation. We will only be able to find our own way if we consciously refrain from judging our own selves; and we can only truly achieve that when we stop judging the dreams of others.
So, next time we meet someone beaming in their bravery, let’s watch our thoughts and words and try to aim for something like….
Yes, you go be your awesome self!