Be unapologetic for who you are, what you do, and how you live.
One of the all-time greatest shows (a close second to The Office), is Parks and Rec. Naturally, I identify as a Leslie, but also many parts Chris Traeger. The character I didn’t realize I had so many connections with until recently was…….Jerry.
For those of you who are not familiar with the show, Jerry is the unintentional comedic relief of the department. He is the butt of every joke, as he quite literally stumbles through life and can’t seem to ever do things correctly.
There is an episode where Leslie goes to Jerry’s house and accidentally ends up having breakfast with his family. In that light, he is coordinated, charismatic, outgoing, and loved. She realizes that he is so unaffected by the people around him at work – because he doesn’t care what they think. He goes about his day and focuses his energy on the people who bring him joy and love.
LIGHTBULB MOMENT. I love Jerry! In fact, I aspire to be a Jerry/Larry/Gary WHATEVER.
The point I am trying to make is that if you don’t care, others won’t either. I want to let y’all in on a secret that has literally shaped my life: NO ONE CARES. And I mean that in the utmost loving way. “What if people think I’m stupid? What if people think that looks weird? What if people think blah blah blah.” Honestly, no one is thinking about you. Because they are too busy asking those same questions to themselves. I challenge us to stop doubting ourselves and start embracing our insane weirdness.
I love working with elementary school students because they truly do not care what people think – they are Jerry’s. Then, something changes in middle school, that tends to stick around for pretty much the rest of their life: they care about fitting in, about what everyone thinks, and about how they can go unnoticed. On one hand, you should care what people think, but certainly not everyone – only those whose opinions you actively value. These are likely your family, close friends, and some of your coworkers. Not a long list. It is no coincidence that people whose opinions matter most are also the ones who aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
I purposely try to “embarrass myself” at least once a day, especially around students. These embarrassments usually entail me causing some sort of scene that involves hand jives and hair flips, ending with “Ms. Tara, how old are you?”
We laugh – our goofiness reminds us of our humanness.
One of the ways I am my truest Jerry is when it comes to make-up. I literally hate it. I don’t have the patience, skill, or desire to do my make up….ever. For the last 4 years, I got lash extensions for that reason. That was my make-up. I could just wake up, roll out of bed, and still manage to look somewhat human. I also have bed and spray tanned for the last 5 years, because that felt like another easy confidence boost.
After the New Year, something clicked and I just stopped caring. I stopped tanning. I got my lash extensions removed. What was I trying to prove? Who was I trying to prove it to? I am happy with how I look, and it pains me to see the lengths to which women go to not only feel beautiful, but also be validated by others. Don’t get me wrong, if make-up brings you joy and makes you confident, more power to you! It’s all about intentions – I was wearing make-up for the wrong reasons. Jerry wouldn’t wear make up -Jerry would be like “Oh jeez…Gail and the girls are just fine with me now!”……as he spills coffee on his shirt, but DAMN IT JERRY YOU’RE RIGHT.
Be a Jerry, in whatever way works you. Being true to who you are is super vague and pinterest-y….but do it. Define who you are, live your values, and go forth unapologetically.
Moral of the story: No one can treat you poorly without your consent. Let those people go, so you can let other people in.
You are loved. Surround yourself with people who love you, because they will embrace your Jerry. So go ahead, light yourself on fire again, Jerry. We still love you.