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Tiny Revolutions №31: The Thing About Bob
you don't have to change 😎
Hi, I’m Sara, and this is Tiny Revolutions, a weekly dispatch of personal writing and links about the art of becoming who you are. Reply anytime, I love to hear from you.
One of my favorite ex-boyfriends is a guy I’ll call Bob. Bob was an eccentric character, at least by California standards. He chain-smoked Marlboro Reds and listened to old school country singers like Waylon Jennings and George Jones and had a giant Chevy SUV that he didn’t drive so much as barreled through the streets. An engineer by trade, his main job was construction, but in his spare time he was building a flamethrower that he had nicknamed “Real Problems.” I think it’s fair to say that Bob was pissed most of the time.
When I first met him I thought he was a curiosity in a “this fucking guy!” kind of way, but once I got past his intimidating exterior, I discovered that Bob was actually a beautiful soul. He read good literature and loved animals and was very principled in his way. He didn’t like phonies or pretension and he didn’t stick around when those types of people were present. Plus he used to make me the best fried egg sandwiches I’ve had to this day.
What I liked about Bob was something that I’ve realized is incredibly rare in this world: his purity. Not on the chemical level -- god knows his blood was approximately 50% Jack Daniels -- but on a level of being.
Because the thing about Bob was that he was purely, unapologetically himself 100% of the time. He never did anything he didn’t want to do, and while he had no qualms about telling you something you really didn’t want to hear, he never lied to you either. It made him so much easier to deal with most other guys I’d dated. You just always knew where he stood, and that meant you were either down or you weren’t. It was so simple! (Eventually I was not down for reasons you can probably guess, but that’s another story.)
I’ve been thinking about Bob a lot lately because I’ve been thinking about the idea of personal transformation a lot lately. If you’ve been reading this newsletter for a while, you know I’ve had a bunch of insights recently that have me making some big changes. I think it’s fair to call what I’m going through a personal transformation.
But what strikes me as interesting is that what I’m going through is not really a “transformation” per se, but more of an uncovering. As in the changes I’m making are not about me becoming a different person, but becoming a person whose actions are more fully aligned with my nature.
Maybe this is completely obvious, but I think it’s worth pointing out because, to me at least, the idea of uncovering oneself seems like a much more appealing endeavor than the idea of transforming oneself. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much over the idea of transformation. It sounds both exhausting and doomed to failure.
And yet, when we talk about self-improvement, so often it’s couched in those terms. We want to become fitter, happier, more productive, whatever. It’s like the subtext of most of what we buy into or engage with is “hey loser, get up off your ass and finally become someone worthy!”
But if we operate from the premise that we’re essentially worthy just by virtue of being who we are, it’s easier to see that we don’t need to become someone different. The more valuable exercise is to strip away the things that don’t serve or feed us in some way to make room for the things that do. And that is truly where things get real, deep, and meaningful. Because isn’t that what we’re after? To lead a life that matters to us?
As for Bob, he may have had lots of other issues (spoiler: he did), but one thing he figured out long before I did is that there’s no point in trying to make yourself into someone else. That the real work is to just be yourself and let the world engage accordingly. And for that I’ll always be grateful.
On to a few things I found worth sharing this week.
Speaking of being yourself…
Edith Zimmerman writes a great newsletter with comics that are both entertaining and thought provoking, and I highly recommend it. I especially loved this edition about how taking up running has taught her about letting go of expectations.
Cool post from the “mildly interesting” subreddit, which is exactly what it sounds like (and also pretty fun to scroll through when you’re mildly bored). Some librarians put together a list of sensitive subjects so people don’t have to ask them — just more evidence that whatever you’re going through, you’re never really alone.
A Tiny Assignment
Is there a part of yourself that you tend to hide because you worry it makes you too weird? Show it to someone. See how it feels.
p.s. I had a great conversation with a Tiny Revolutions reader last week that made me want to have more conversations with Tiny Revolutions readers! Y’all are an amazing bunch. Let me know if you’d be interested in connecting via phone sometime — we can talk about whatever! Just reply to this message and we’ll set something up.
p.p.s. Thanks for reading and sharing! This newsletter has nearly doubled in subscribers in the last few months. I appreciate your support!