A note for those of you who have grown, changed, or opened up about who you really are and feel nervous about owning all of that during Thanksgiving (or in life, in general). Read on.
Ever heard of the ‘crab mentality’? If not, Google it
. The gist of the ‘crab mentality’ is that if a bunch of crabs are in a pot or a bucket and one is climbing up and trying to get out, the crabs at the bottom of the bucket will grab onto the rising crab and pull it back down into the bottom of the bucket. This example is typically used to demonstrate the perceived threat to the ‘collective’
, the group, the ‘tribe’ when a member decides to try to free itself from constraints or rise above to another level
I can’t speak for what the crabs are ACTUALLY doing (maybe they’re just blindly grabbing at anything within reach? any crustacean experts out there?), but I CAN speak for humans, and I will say that I have witnessed and experienced this phenomenon first-hand. Sometimes, humans see someone who has changed, who is doing something differently than before, differently than they’re used to, and they feel threatened.
Perhaps, most commonly, this happens when someone has improved their lives, is being more authentic, is following their dreams… They’re assumed to be fake, phony, fraudulent, bypassing… call it what you want, but most importantly, people try to remind this person that ALL OF US really know who they are, and that it is THEY who are confused. They’re lost. There’s no way this is authentic. All those years this person was the (fill in the blank), so there’s no way that they’re ACTUALLY whatever they’re claiming to be now.
I’ve experienced this, and I’m sure I’ve been a sad, low-life crab to someone at some low point of my own life. I was the party girl, the single friend who could always come out, the person who wanted (and could) drink you under the table, the ‘chill girl’ who was laid back and never complained, the overachiever, the ‘guy’s girl’, the ‘perfectionist’, the ‘good girl’, the innocent do-no-wronger, the ‘I can do it on my own, don’t need help’ girl, the ‘fixer’, the (so many fill-in-the-blanks depending on who you are/were in my life).
And knowing other people thought this made it really scary at first to tell people the truth of how I felt inside, to go after my dreams, to a complete 180 on my career path, to change my lifestyle, to move across the country, to do so many things that feel AMAZING and so freaking aligned with my soul, giving me much greater peace than I can consciously ever remember feeling. It wasn’t always easy…getting ‘ghosted’ or losing friends who read my vulnerable truth and ceased all plans and communications with me. Who saw these feelings as me being a phony person, a wanna-be spirit junkie, just going through a phase. [Ouch, talk about needing to be 100% freaking committed to yourself in order to make it through.]
So many people are afraid to truly go after their dreams, that they try to squash, sabotage, and bring down those who have. Looking at those who have made the decision to live life differently and having that reminder of someone who is courageous + strong + an independent thinker can be painful for some, so they’d rather try to bring them down, to say “If I can’t have it, neither can you” or “I’m going to prove that this person hasn’t really changed, can’t really successfully follow their dreams, is putting on an act, etc.” or anything along those lines.
Many people don’t necessarily don’t want to put in the time and energy and effort and commitment required to TRULY change, that leads others to not believe that someone else can / has / deserves to. When they see someone who is SO freaking committed to living their best life, it’s much easier to rush to point fingers and claw them down back into the bottom of the bucket. Many of us would much rather live in a world of crabs that all commiserate at the bottom of the bucket about ‘how life is’ and how we really wish someone would let us out of the bucket and how unfair it is that we’re in this bucket and yada yada yada…
And there we sit, swimming in our collective filth of commiseration. I remember back when I was working in my corporate job, a good friend of mine once telling me something along the lines of “Don’t take this the wrong way, but every time I hang out with you and your friends from work, I feel like ALL you guys talk about is how much you hate work.” (One of many wake-up calls that led to my shift… Was it really that obvious we were all so miserable?!) Instead of transforming our jealousy into motivation or curiosity, instead of appreciating that people grow and change, instead of figuring out if maybe we want to try climbing out of the bucket and where we’d rather be and getting creative on how to make that happen… we just tug at those who are already doing it.
But I can also see a layer deeper. I can see that these crabs at the bottom are really, really afraid. They’re not lazy, they’re not evil, they’re not ‘bad’. They just haven’t figured out how to get the courage and clarity to envision and go after their dreams. Maybe they don’t believe they deserve any better. There is a part of them deep down inside that wants exactly what the ‘rising crab’ is going after, but they’re afraid. I know this because I used to sit at the bottom of the bucket, too, and at times, as my bar for growth rises, I find myself sitting at the bottom, feeling stuck.
An important thing to realize in all of this, is that those who are climbing aren’t necessarily fearless, they have just decided not to lead with fear, but to lead with love and faith and trust in the Divine that they will be abundantly supported as they climb and explore life elsewhere, outside of this bucket. They may NOT know for sure if life is better out of the bucket, but they certainly are willing to bet that it’s got to be better than ‘this’ because they’ve tried ‘this’, and they know they hate it. So rather than waiting for someone to free them from the bucket, they are freeing themselves.
So, yes, I am scared a lot of the time. I’m not 100% sure of how things will turn out. I am not perfect. Everything hasn’t worked out exactly as I imagined it in my mind. But I knew that ‘this’ was not for me, so I had to try some version of the infinite ‘thats’ out in the world. But regardless:
I will not stop climbing + exploring + going against the grain,
I will not apologize for my free spirit,
for my ability to see how things could be different and/or better,
for my demand to THRIVE + to be happy,
for my authentic + vulnerable expression,
for my truth (in case it makes you look bad / angry / threatened / confused)…
I will especially not apologize for how passionate I am for what I do and identify with any labels along the lines of crazy, manic, or that I’ve ‘gone off the deep end’ or ‘lost it’. I don’t ‘need to see someone’.*
This fire has been out for too long, and it feels great to have it burning bright again.
Even if all of this this means that I am left misunderstood, disliked, seen as a threat or a phony.
Can you relate?
To those who have ever been told, implicitly or explicitly, that they are ‘too much’ and/or ‘not enough’, I say:
Those are simply two sides of the s(h)ame coin; both are attempts to make someone “other”, inhuman, to shame their complex truth.
Just because you won’t play by the rules that other are prisoners to (and maybe don’t even realize they are) that does not give them the right to tell you how to live your life.
Living a life that challenges the status quo scares people.
Maybe deep down inside, these people are afraid to change; you and I both know it feels easier to stay right where we are.
People like us who live passionate lives are a reminder that there’s another way to live, to be, to do…
We are the living embodiment of the dreams others have that they said were reckless, stupid, irresponsible, unreasonable, or unrealistic.
And you know, they’re right about one thing: dreams AREN’T always easy or without bumps in the road.
We didn’t choose the easy path that’s well-traveled. We may not “have it all together”. We may not have the “perks and benefits”. We may do things that upset or confuse or scare others. But to that I say:
At least we are alive.
We have woken up, and we have decided to create and own our lives, not resent them. Not blame ‘the others’ and everything around us for it.
I grew tired of being the ‘good girl’, of trying to appear that I have it all together. Have you grown tired, too?
Are you tired of waiting with bated breath for their smiles, their nods, their words of approval…?
Are you tired of letting your emotions and sense of self hang on every word that leaves their lips…?
Are your tired of letting someone else ‘set the bar’ for your life…?
Are you tired of contorting yourself and your life to everyone else’s liking…?
Are you just plain tired of the bullshit…?!
I see you, I hear you…
To the other humans out there who are in the process of coming home to themselves, I say: THANK YOU! Welcome! You’re most definitely not alone, even thought it feels like you are sometimes. One day, it (i.e., what you’re being called to do from deep within against reason or logic) will all make sense, even if it doesn’t right now. The world rarely appreciates or celebrates or recognizes revolution or innovation until it’s over or until they’ve benefitted from it or you do something they consider respectable or impressive or until you make a lot of money or until they read an old article or textbook and say “I can’t believe people ever lived like / did that!!”
And last, but certainly not least, say it with me – “I will not apologize for who I am or who I am becoming.”
A-ho, and Happy Thanksgiving <3 I’m grateful for all of you showing up to do the work.
*To be clear, I’ve ‘seen someone’ many times, and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. My issue is when people try to proclaim your passion as a mental illness or a problem and not what it is…which is passion.