Me Duele Tonto

Little known fact: I am a huge Shakira fan. (Okay, okay, so it’s a very well-known fact.) And one of my favorite songs (La Tortura) is entirely in Spanish. As an ignorant American who took Spanish for years and years in school and then immediately forgot most of it, I can’t really tell what’s being said, but it’s a beautiful song. And so, it was when I was happily listening to it one day that I realized that I did understand some of it. In fact, I understood the following lyrics:

Ay amor me duele tanto

It means, as you may have already deduced from your own 6 years of rudimentary Spanish, “love hurts so much,” or quite literally, “love makes me feel so much.”

And do you know what I thought it said when I listened to it? “Me duele tonto” AKA “I feel foolish.” (which may not even be grammatically correct, because again, ignorance). So, I was definitely wrong, and you may be thinking that there is now no reason for this blog post due to one simple Google search for song lyrics. (Well, this got awkward fast.)

But here’s the rub! “Tonto” also means “stupid.” And I’m like, Eureka! That’s it! That’s my entire life rolled into a nutshell of a nutshell. That’s my autobiography title, a simple double meaning conveniently couched in another language. Thanks, Shakira!

Because that’s my entire problem. Every time I feel stupid, I also feel foolish. They’re inextricably linked for me, as they are in Spanish.

Seriously, I want to avoid any situation ever where I feel like there’s a chance I could look stupid. (This is also known as any situation ever because there’s really no way to know everything about everything, and so I look stupid when I try, but I definitely try.)

And so, I self-sabotage a lot because I can’t seem to overcome the idea that if I ask questions or if I seem like I don’t know something, I’m automatically stupid, and therefore, I feel foolish. Quite literally, feeling stupid is synonymous with being stupid in Spanish and in my own head.

So, how do you overcome this? How do you tell yourself that it’s okay to seem stupid AND foolish? Well, as one of my other favorite women (J.K. Rowling) once said, “I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?” I’d like to think “stupid” could be substituted for “fat” in this quote.

Because there’s a million ways to look or feel stupid. But asking questions so you don’t make mistakes, no matter how “dumb” they sound to your own ears, does not mean you are stupid (tonto). And that also means that you shouldn’t feel (tonto) foolish, either.

Music I Grew Up On

What do Shakira, Avril Lavigne, and Alanis Morrisette have in common?

They’ve all been on my Ipod since around the 7th grade. And even though my headphones have changed (drastically), I am still listening to them and relating to them, on some level. Sort of.

Like, take today, for instance. I guess I really wanted to take a trip down memory lane because I turned on some Avril Lavigne. Way before her marriage to Sum41 band member or Nickelback frontman. I went back all the way to her first album “Let Go” and even her second album “Under My Skin.”

And at first I laughed hysterically at the fact that I remembered all of the words and where I was when I was belting them out about 10 years ago.

But especially while listening to “Under My Skin,” I was cringing too. Because a lot of the lyrics were really dark and angsty.

And I get it, teenagers sort of have that reputation, and I was a great sample representative of that stereotype, but I was simply relieved to realize that I no longer had those feelings anymore when I listened to the album today. I mean, I could definitely recognize what it felt like to feel like that. I could definitely remember why I could relate to what she was saying at some point in my life. But not anymore.

And sure, Avril definitely raised me. So, did Alanis. And Shakira. And certainly, Amy Lee from Evanescence, now that I think of it. These women raised me to grow up to become this really sassy, still angsty, dancey woman through their heartfelt lyrics and iconic tracks.

But now? I don’t have to listen to that music to feel like my feelings are being validated. And I think that’s maturity at work. Being able to listen to a song without feeling like someone stole my personal diary and is singing my feelings is a tremendous step in the right direction toward adulthood. (But that certainly doesn’t mean I can’t sink into a bubbling bath of pity every now and again by pressing play.)

The point is now I can start focusing on what I want to say instead of someone else singing it through my speakers. But the music I grew up on certainly gave me the courage to say it in the first place.