If I can manage to post a blog a day for every weekday left this year, with a few days off for holidays, I can make 52 posts this year (see: intending on posting one blog per week this year).
I just finished reading The Courage to be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, which I can not recommend highly enough. For someone like myself, who experienced the happiest period of their childhood in the public eye, and who makes their living entertaining people, the desire to please and be liked can be debilitating. Much of my adult life has been lived in fear of letting people down. I have some cockamamie notion that I owe something to people who remember me as Mary Lennox. I've gotten a lot better. And the times where I have dipped my toe outside the box of what I think is expected of me, I've generally been rewarded with recognition for my efforts, which, of course, is a double-edged sword. The goal is to find peace and happiness outside of public recognition. But, ultimately, my living depends on the acceptance of a broad swath of people, so getting positive feedback from an audience is directly linked to my ability to put food on the table.
This is the crux of the problem. My identity is so tied to my career, that when I'm not working or entertaining people I feel useless and empty.
Lately I've been thinking about a moment in 2002 when I had discovered knitting. I was making chunky wool scarves in rich colors. I had gotten so many compliments, I began making them to sell. I had custom iron-on labels made. I was selling them on my website for $25 each. Someone I knew (I would call him a friend, but, as you are about to see, he was far from friendly) commented on my website, "Wow, times are tough, huh, Daisy?" Like, what? In retrospect, I wonder if he was saying I should charge more, in which case he easily could have reached out to me privately and said, "Hey, girl, know your worth!" But at the time, I took it to mean that it looked like my acting career was so in the dumps I had to resort to making and selling scarves. So, you know what I did? I decided to donate all the proceeds from the sale of the scarves to charity. Know your worth, indeed. Instead of just being like, "Hey, that one person with no tact doesn't get to determine how I spend my time," I was like, "One person might think I'm a loser!" Just think, I could have a thriving scarf business today.
I'm aware that I'm not, nor have I ever been, Sally Sunshine. It's not like I've devoted my life to being nice to everyone so they'll like me. It's just that I've spent a lot of my life feeling guilty for being who I am. Showing myself and then immediately worrying that I've upset someone (like some morally conflicted flasher). That's the great irony of this. I am a salty bitch. I don't have time for nonsense. I have extremely strong opinions, and I rub a lot of people the wrong way. Nowadays, those are qualities that can make a woman very successful (see Lizzo, Lindy West, Maxine Waters, et. al.), but when you become known at the age of 11 as Mary Lennox, it takes a giant cognitive leap for a lot of people to see you as an adult, let alone one who will tell you to fuck off if need be (even though Mary is basically like, "Fuck off, guys.")
The point is, I have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to hide my saltiness in order to conform to other people's idea of who I was. For many years, when I ventured to share my less-than-favorable view of the world, I was met with, "Wow, you're not Mary Lennox anymore!" But, weird science fact: I never was Mary Lennox. I was an actor playing a role. And people who actually knew me then knew I wasn't Mary Lennox. But also, Mary Lennox isn't a ray of sunshine, guys. She's angry, bitter, and lonely.
There's a reason I never wanted to play Annie. I had no interest in telling people they're never fully dressed without a smile, or that the sun would come out tomorrow. Because you know what? The sun might not come out tomorrow, and you've bet your bottom dollar on it, so now it's raining and you can't afford an umbrella, and they expect you to smile about that shit? Come on. There's a reason I played sickly orphans, y'all.
Add to that the fact that I felt the need to hide my sexuality for nearly 20 years, and you have a person who has essentially grown afraid of their own shadow.
So, I'm trying to have the courage to be disliked so that here, on the precipice of 40 (OH MY GOD, SHE'S FORTY? GROSS!), I can finally start to be who I am without standing in the shower later, thinking "I am a garbage human."
And if you don't like it, awesome.