There Was a Fourth Chair
In 2017, I started my first year of college. Not a four-year college; I’m too cheap for that. Just a small community college in the smack dab middle of Bryan, Texas. I went to study Business because I had no idea (and still don’t know) what I wanted to do. So practically, Associate’s degree baby. I was friggin stoked to get out of my house, into a different atmosphere, and to experience college. I ended up living in an apartment with my cousin and a few girls we had met in high school. There was five of us total, and we shared one fridge. And you can imagine what kind of chaos that is. But, you guys, I had SO MUCH fun decorating this apartment. So much. More specifically, my room. BUT the excitement that ran through my bones with the idea of having to decorate my own place was invigorating. And made me feel so gosh darn mature.
Of course, in an effort to equally contribute to the living room that we shared, I brought in a table with four chairs, which was sitting in a room in my home. And when I say sitting, I mean sitting. We did not use the table. Or the chairs. At all. It sat. Please remember that part of this story.
I need to tell you one thing. We had some crazy ass neighbors. There were three apartments surrounding us that we would investigate/spy on. One apartment had a bunch of girls, the sorority-type ones that made you question if they were wearing shorts or not under their 3x t-shirt. No one ever knew. But they kept to themselves so that was fine. Another apartment were a few Indian fellas. I don’t say that racist at all, they just were, and they were actually some pretty cool guys. Well, we didn’t really interact with them at all, but they seemed cool. The third apartment that surrounded ours were ‘the neighbors.’ We would literally call them that. Those are the crazy ass ones I mentioned earlier. A bunch of rowdy, and I mean window-shaking, music-blaring, rowdy college guys. And we LOVED them. We all became best friends, and I can wave my American flag at them all and give them my gratitude for making college a wee bit more interesting. We would always go over to their house and they would come to ours and we would meet in the middle where there was a fireplace. The neighbors.
One night, we sat around the fire and were all just chatting. For a long time. I don’t remember what we talked about that night, but I know that we were outside, and I know there was a fire, and I knew that we had brought some of our living room chairs outside so there would be enough seating. At one point, some of us went inside to hang out, and one of the neighbors came in, professing that one of the chairs was currently in the fire to, and I quote, “keep it alive.” I thought it was momentarily hilarious, and then realized what he had said. I think my jaw hit the floor and walked outside to look at said burning chair, then I laughed again and I’m pretty sure I said, “how rude.” And then, well, the party went on.
The next morning, as I woke up, I threw off my covers, shot out of bed, and exclaimed (yes exclaimed) “my mom!” The realization had hit. My mom was going to be livid with me. Her precious table, which served absolutely no purpose in our home, was missing a chair because it had been ridiculously sacrificed in my fire and she was going to be livid. Livid I tell you.
It is currently 2020, and our table is back in our home, in the same spot it was before. Our sweet table mourns its fourth chair, and to this day, my mom has yet to figure out why the heck there are only three chairs. I can’t count how many times she has asked me “Gosh, wasn’t there a fourth chair? I could have sworn there was.” Yes mom; There was a fourth chair.
You may be thinking…Is she going to tell us that it’s not okay to lie to your parents? Or maybe this post is about being responsible with your assets. Or maybe, she will explain what kind of neighbors you should or shouldn’t be acquaintances with. Or how to build a replica of a chair.
I want you to peek back to my morning reaction. My biggest fear, out of all of that trauma that I’d experienced with this dang chair, was that my mom was going to be upset. I was nervous that she wasn’t going to trust me anymore, or that she’d talk to my dad and they’d tell me that they are done paying for my college. I thought she was going to think differently of me or be disappointed in me. I was afraid she was going to stop talking to me or judge me for hanging out with crazy neighbors or make me re-buy a table and chair set.
This post is for all of my friends out there who have people that they are scared to disappoint. This is for those of you who, like me, have a nudge of fear living behind every corner of every decision you make because you don’t want anyone to think less of who you are. This is for the ones who hide their talents and their personalities because of what their parents will think. This is for those who are too ashamed to talk about how they live their life because they’re afraid of not getting an approval for it. This is for all of you who are afraid of failing; not only people, but in general.
Here, let me just give you a little bit of insight on the knowledge that I’ve trained myself to believe about this subject: you are never going to get a clear shot of approval from everybody. I repeat. You are never going to get a clear shot of approval from everybody. Do you hear me, loudly and clearly, when I say that? Us as humans, we are dynamic. We are all different. We have different passions and different ambitions and different hearts. We were created that way on purpose. It’s a beautiful thing, you guys.
Yet, we second guess coloring our hair blue because our grandmas may not approve.
We question if going to college is the right thing to do, even though our parents push how important it should be.
We are afraid to go get our nails done because someone might think we’re too snooty and like to show off our money.
We don’t want to go to the gym because everybody there looks like they’ve completed the diet program already.
We are afraid to wear our cross necklaces because we don't want people to think we're Jesus freaks.
Don’t dream too big because a corporate job is more stable and your dad thinks it’s a better idea.
My thighs look ginormous in my favorite pair of jeans so I’ll probably not wear them. I would like to avoid whatever my mom has to say about how I don’t “keep up with myself”.
There’s always going to be someone who thinks that the way you are living your life is not up to par with the way they believe you should be.
And until we wrap our brains around that truth, we will live every-day being cautious of who’s watching and wondering what they may be thinking of the decisions you’re going to make. If we live our lives trying to please those around us, we are not going to be living OUR lives. Yes, people may think that they know what’s best for you, and I truly believe there’s a time and place for getting opinions from those people. BUT, if you allow their opinions of your life control how you’re living, girlfriend, your life is no longer yours. You’ve placed it in the hands of this world and you’ll follow along with it, and I can almost guarantee that you will not be satisfied in whatever the world has to say you should do.
You guys, my mom would probably be pretty upset with me if she found out about the chair, and she would tell me how I should have solved it. She’d probably be pretty upset with some of the decisions I make in my life. She would probably explain to me what she would have done in her 22nd year of life. She probably would have told me not to get my belly button pierced or my tattoo or spend 1k on an iPad because that’s irresponsible. Listen to me, I love my mom and I respect her so much. She is a very smart woman and she matters way too much to me. But, I’ve let her opinion of my life creep into my mind more than I wish to admit, and to this day, I still do. In fact, for the most part, I ask myself how my mom would react if she found out about so and so. But let me tell you, gosh darnet, if I did everything the way my mom wanted me to, I’d simply be my mom, and I’m not up for that. And if I let everybody else's opinion rule my life as well, I still wouldn't be myself fully. The truth of the matter is that I am me and you are you and we were meant to live our lives without riding on the opinions of the people that God has placed in our lives. And I beg of you to join me in letting yourself believe that.
Me, myself, and I will look at you with the biggest heart and say: I like you and I want you to do what your heart desires. Don’t rob a bank or steal a child, that’s not my point. My point is to live in the skin that God gave you and to listen to what makes your heart beat, and follow that tune. God has granted you your body with your intellect and your heart for a reason, and I ask that you don’t waste an opportunity to live abundantly as yourself because you want to make sure to please everyone around you. Nah, you’re better than that. And I am, too. You have the ability to do so. And you get to decide. Girl, I say go for it.