Growth, age, maturity and self-actualization are interesting things that I’ve examined about myself over the past few years, and in particular the last year with an extremely fine tooth pick. Through that intense examination a lot of changes took place, and one in particular that had only recently come to fruition in the past few months is that I have developed quite a vicious bite.
This could be interpreted as sexual, and while it’s largely true (just ask my exes) that I can bite pretty damn well in that realm, my point behind having a vicious bite is the ability to stand your ground and speak without filter. In other words, the absolutely critical virtue of integrity.
I’ll be honest – I lacked integrity for a long, long time in my younger years. Blame it on the bullies that told me to shut up as a kid or the people that told me that being an artist is really hard, but the fundamental responsibility was always on me – I didn’t have the courage to actually stand my ground and say no, I’m doing this my way.
In fact, every action you take is on you, regardless of what advice or information is provided to you – it’s on you to sift through that information and determine the right course of action. Yes, bad information can be given to you, whether with good or ill intent, but that is secondary to the person who initiates the resulting action – you.
But I digress, my post today is about learning to develop a vicious, and very powerful bite. Learning to stand your ground and the absolute critical importance of it in your life.
For perspective: last year was a realllllly shitty year for me. Borderline suicidal levels. It wasn’t great – but I also recognize that year as the greatest growth period I’ve ever experienced. The gut punch I took nearly blew my guts out, but boy did it teach me some harsh lessons.
And I took those lessons really, really seriously. I cleaned out my shitty closet filled with a lot of skeletons. I took care of my mental and physical state, which then eventually snowballed into being exceptionally jacked and tan now, alongside a very solid mental frame that has very, very thick skin.
In other words, I bounced from the most intense suffering I’ve felt to the most clear, focused and in-tune I’ve felt, in particular with what is important to me. I may write a post about the trip to the art museum back in May, but it reminded me of how critically important art and creativity was to me – it woke my younger self up and said “do this and never let it go again”.
I got strong. Really strong. In every area of my life, and with it came a very, very strong and sharp bite where I, with very little pressure, will put my foot down and defend what matters to me, no matter what someone thinks.
That’s integrity – the willingness to stand your ground and stay true to what is important to you. It leads to a tremendously powerful sense of self-respect and a very stable, steely resolve. I’m being blunt when I say that I am very proud of myself and the things I do – regardless of what others think. I love how I live my life, and love to share that with the people who wish to join in that sunlight.
My point – it’s important to create this integrity within you. It takes a lot of courage and bravery to stand true to what matters to you, because you will inevitably have the crabs in the bucket who will try to drag you into the bottom of the bucket and tell you the way you live your life is not proper. It’s a lot of pressure, and it’s frightening – a seed of doubt can wreck havoc on your goals.
Here’s the thing: there’s chances that sometimes the crabs can be right. Sometimes, you will make mistakes. This isn’t a wrong statement.
But integrity goes hand in hand with honesty – stand by what you see as right, and test it against the facts of reality. If it fails, see it as what it is – a result that you can learn from, and most importantly, own the mistake. Don’t live by other peoples code or rule sets – that’s their life, not yours. Entertain the ideas given to you, but reject them if they are not in line with what is working for you. Owning your life choices leads to learning what works and doesn’t work for you. Just following what is given leads to a boring, soulless person.
My life works now. Things are smooth and I’m very happy, but there will be inevitable rocky terrain and bumps on the way. I will make mistakes.
But I’ve also looked back on the actions I’ve taken over the past decade and recognized that all the major decisions I’ve made where I followed my gut and conscious action always led to the right result for me. When I followed the advice of others in these decisions, it always led to obstacles I cared not for. They were hiccups.
Follow your values. Follow what matters, and have a bite that can tear limbs off when it is being taken from you.
What I’m trying to do is be righteous. And when I say “righteous,” I don’t mean God. You know? God- Righteous. I mean just when I wake up, I know I was honest to myself.Patrice O’Neal (RIP)
Have a good one!