To The Emperor’s Cheering Crowd

Dear Cheering Crowd,

I want to talk to you about something. I want to talk about self-confidence. I found some the other day and wore it like a hat. It was all very exciting, but I thought it would last longer. It was that crappy kind of self-confidence. The low quality kind of self-confidence. It’s H&M quality confidence. You know what I’m talking about. You get it, it looks great, feels pretty decent, then falls apart. So then you’ve just got the same old stuff to sort through, and it doesn’t make you feel particularly attractive, or special. It makes you feel like a slob. And then you hide inside a big sweater with a hole in the elbow that desperately needs to be washed because last time you wore it you spilled melted sorbet on yourself. Why melted sorbet? Was it because you were savoring it? No, it’s because it was too cold to eat sorbet so you melted it into sugar soup and drank it. That was really attractive. Good thing you spend so much time alone.

So, with these shreds of self-confidence being totally unusable, you do the whole Emperor’s New Clothes schtick. You pretend you’re wearing your self-confidence but you’re metaphorically naked.You try and cover up with the closest thing you have to leopard print and hope to jesus that people think it’s either cool or ironic. You go out, you make self-deprecating noises which are as close to an honest conversation as you can get, and then you smile until you can go to bed. When you wake up you eat the left over mac and cheese that you showed everyone pictures of the night before. Does anyone really care about mac and cheese? No. Did you need to flaunt your culinary prowess? Yes, because without that reaffirmation that you have desirable qualities you might crumble like that Stilton you used… badly. And, in the end, people look up from the pictures you’re distracting them with and see that you’re naked. You’re naked and wishing you had melted sorbet to warm you up.

And the worst part about all of it was that it kind of works. You got attention, and that was nice. But was it the attention you want? Probs not. Was it from that dwindling number of people that you actually want to think you’re fantastic? Hells to the no. So you come to resent the people who aren’t compassionately telling you to shut up. You’re hopping around and waiting for someone to point to you and say “have some self-respect and put some damn clothes on.” Even people you admire don’t say anything. Even if they did you’d brush it off because nobody’s going to argue with you. You’ll just insist you’re wearing clothes, or you’ll admit you’re naked and not going to so much as cover it with a fig leaf. And sure, being naked is beautiful. It’s honest. It’s raw. People love that crap. But if you could do it over you’d have only let a few people see you that way. It’s a little late now.

We were talking about self-confidence. Here is what I know. I know there’s a tailored, exquisitely stitched, flattering, modest confidence. I know it’s somewhere, made for me, but how I can afford it is beyond me. And I don’t want help. I don’t want someone to buy it for me. I want to earn it.

A final thought; if you want to earn my respect then don’t compliment me on my tattered rags of an ego. Don’t spare my feelings by averting your eyes when I’ve got nothing on at all. We both know what’s going on. And, really, you think I can’t see what you’re wearing? We can go shopping for confidence together if you want, and maybe get some frozen yoghurt afterwards.

Actually, one more thing. Occasionally I meet someone who makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in the fanciest mink money could by. Warm, secure, and with enough self-worth to buy a small island. I’m sure they don’t have the slightest idea, but I wanted to thank them publicly regardless.

Love Lili


2 thoughts on “To The Emperor’s Cheering Crowd

    • Thank you. That’s nice of you to say, and also got me to reread this piece. January was a transformative month, so it was a refreshing reminder of where I’ve been this year.

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