Vicariously MeAugust 12, 2014
Someone asked me a few years ago, what goal I've reached or am currently working on that has taken the most focus and energy I've ever given. My response was immediate: being myself. Goodness! Up until that point I hadn't quite realized it to that magnitude, but yes, that was and is it. The effort of trying ... working at ... deliberately focusing on being myself, as the quote says — "in a world that is constantly trying to make you (me) something else" helps me to sleep better at night now than I did in years when I didn't realize that it simply doesn't come natural to all of us. I don't know how many hours of my life waned away with me trying to plot and plan how to be more like someone else — part of it out of being a people-pleaser and part of it out of a feeling of inadequacy.
My mom and other adults who were close to me told me to be myself when I was a girl. But, isn't that what most adults tell children? They said it, but they also side-eyed some of my less than sweet "self" tendencies. And sometimes, when I was my most authentic self, the response was not what I expected. So, I would adjust. I adjusted my favorite color. I adjusted my walk. I adjusted my tone of voice (until my older brother asked me about it one day and embarrassed me into going back to normal) ... my college major. I adjusted and readjusted my self as necessary based on the world's response until I was a semblance of me. It worked well enough for a while. There were brief outbursts, times that I now understand as my real feelings ... my real self slipping out. In those times, I became more tightly raveled. And then one day, a Sunday to be exact, something broke. Rejection is very frequently the impetus for greater. Perspective.
I believe every emotion I had ever beat down, every self doubt, every regret came to the surface that day. I cried that day and for days after because ... well, I guess, it was just necessary. And I talked to just one friend who told me all of it had been long overdue. Then she said: go forward. Hm. I thought her extremely insensitive. I mean, I was literally exhausted from what I perceived sorrow and hopelessness. It was not. I had emptied out and was at once free of things I didn't even know had me held up in my life.
And I started becoming me.
That statement sounds so flowery but it was work. It, is work. Some things (and people) fell away, and I had to practice searching myself for an authentic response to people, places and things before knee-jerk reactions/responses. I second guessed myself and my voice, and sometimes I looked back. In those times, I realized that God will allow you a moment with a person, place or thing to help you reconcile why you left. And every time, I say thank God for "forward."