I make no secret of the fact that I love Janet Jackson: OMFG ILOVEJANETDAMITAJOJACKSON! OMG!
I think she is one of the most amazing human beings. EVER. I know it’s excruciatingly melodramatic for some of you to bear it, but my eyes water up just typing about her. I admire her for her heart more than anything else, and I have never been a fan who liked her only when she was skinny. I continue to contend with my own eating and body issues (though they trouble me less than in years past, thankfully), so I have never been in a position to judge her on that front. In fact, her new book, “True You” (a self-help book about compassion-for-the-self and attaining-balance-through-setting-sensible-goals), makes me feel even more attuned to her as an artist: All this time when millions of people have thought her stunningly beautiful, she has seen only her “flaws.”
That blows my mind completely out of the water.
But it is EXACTLY the same conversation I’ve been having with myself and with many of the people closest to me over the years. How many times over the decades have I said, “I don’t like (insert perceived flaw),” only to have someone gasp or say incredulously, “But you’re amazing as you are?” It doesn’t matter what someone else tells you, if you don’t believe it. That’s why one of my meditations is: “I am so happy and grateful that I am maintaining or improving, as well as learning to see and appreciate, the beauty in me that so many others already exalt, and that I am humbly luxuriating in that Gift.”
Of all the many quotes I highlighted in Janet’s book, this is the one that sticks out the most for me: “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Comparisons are almost always harmful. Comparisons mean there’s a winner and loser – and you’re the one who winds up feeling like a loser.”
I really can’t think of a single instance during my past struggles with Anorexia or Dysmorphia, or my current struggles with feelings of inadequacy in Adult Entertainment, that didn’t grow out of comparison. But I also have to pat myself on the back in retrospect: There have been many situations where I recognized that contests, auditions, competitions, and/or pageants would have done nothing but fuel a fire that was already burning hot enough, so I have mostly avoided them. I don’t win in those types of scenarios: My esteem doesn’t hold under that type of pressure. I am best when I do what I enjoy within its own context. I am most beautiful when I’m allowed to nurture my own sense of presence and style. I fail miserably almost every time I have to “win.” I hate winning. I love excelling. I flourish when I’m allowed to express my “true you,” and I generally get aggressive, defensive, belligerent, or pessimistic when I have to do something that will be judged against something or someone else. It’s one of the reasons that I have never played sports, despite being athletic. It’s the reason I detest gyms, despite being a trainer who works out with a trainer. It’s the reason I am quite content NOT to get nominated for video/escorting/blogging awards – God forbid I should “lose” publicly. I am very happy to leave awards to those with the audacity to sell themselves on Twitter for votes.
I loathe that type of activity. It doesn’t motivate me. It makes me feel inadequate, I cease to try, I don’t “win,” it reinforces why I didn’t want to do whatever it was in the first place, and then I’m left feeling bitter.
That’s why I have to remind myself from time to time, in various ways, that I don’t want or need to “win.” I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from a job well done (whatever I might be doing), and I prefer enjoying the intrinsic value of accomplishment (which cannot be taken), rather than getting accolades from others (which cannot be maintained).
I hope you have discovered, or on the path to discovering, your “true you.” I hope I’m getting closer to that, too. Thank you, Janet, for reminding me to continue growing. (See the response to this in Part 2 and Part 3).