Like No One is Watching; Like Everyone is Watching

Here’s a paradox for you: We feel the most secluded from the world when we’re in our cars, and yet we are surrounded by windows. Maybe you’ve gotten into your car and tried balancing your checkbook or have taken a selfie…with the whole world watching. (At least the entire parking lot.) You’ll notice pretty quickly that there’s always an audience.

And then, we’ve all had a time where we’ve stepped into our car, turned the key in the ignition, and blasted our favorite song from the radio. We’re feeling good, and most importantly, we’re alone. So, it feels like the perfect time to transform into the best karaoke-singing, high-note hitting, grooving and moving, actor or actress in a music video.

And I have to agree it does feel good.

I truly don’t know what comes over me on my ride home, but I find myself uncontrollably belting out my favorite songs. And you know what? I try to make sure the windows are rolled down to get the full effect of it all. (You know, so my hair can whip around and go in my mouth, and I can choke a little bit on the chorus).

But there’s something else that I’ve been doing rather subconsciously on my rides home besides singing along to my favorite tunes: I’ve been turning down the music when I pull up to a stop light. Actually, I shut it down altogether. And for what? So that the person in the car next to me doesn’t confuse my singing with a cat dying? So that the person in the car next to me doesn’t find out that I have no shame when it comes to Shakira? So that the person in the car next to me isn’t annoyed while we’re both waiting for the light to change?

Why? Because we’re all supposed to “dance like no one’s watching,” right? It’s been beaten into our brains that we need to act “normal” when other people are around. We can’t let anyone else see how we act when we’re really alone. Essentially, we can never be ourselves because it’s “embarrassing.” Even when we’re in the relative privacy of our cars. And sometimes, even when we’re in the relative privacy of our own lives.

Because that’s the point. No matter where you are, you’re waiting for someone to watch you or judge you, consciously or subconsciously. Even if you don’t realize it, you may be turning down the dial on yourself only to accommodate someone else.

And do you know what I say to that? Act like no one is watching, so you can be truly you. And act like everyone is watching because it doesn’t matter if they are.

You can have it both ways. And at the end of the day, you’ll wonder why you ever thought you couldn’t.

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