Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Don't Apologize For Who You Are
From the earliest memories I can recall in my childhood I always felt a bit "offbeat" or "quirky" compared to other people, whether it be other children or adults. And as I got older I knew in the deepest part of my soul that I liked that quirky girl. I liked that part of myself that would quip an occasional crowd winning joke (and the many jokes that were complete misses). I adored that girl who instinctively responded to animals and was more comfortable alone than with others. I got a kick out of this person who had always been spiritual, who'd always been inexplicably fascinated with storms, who had preferred nighttime over daytime and winter over summer. From the beginning I loved her. If I could have I would have "hugged her and pet her and squeezed her and called her George."
The thing is... most of my adult life has not been a reflection of that instinctual love I once had for myself.
From the time I can remember forming a sentence on paper I have loved to write. Like most little writers as a child I loved writing stories - both in and out of school. In the first grade my class was instructed to write a fictional short story on why someone might be thankful on Thanksgiving. Much like Ralph on A Christmas Story I was excited to get to work and I wrote a story that came to me that I felt really good about. A +++++ However, the teacher didn't quite share my optimism about the piece. She announced to the whole class that my paper had read "like it was written by someone smoking pot". Of course I didn't know exactly what pot was, but I knew it was an illegal drug associated with negative stigma at the very least. The thunder of the laughter of the whole class followed and the teacher's message was quite clear. Maybe I had thought I'd written something interesting and engaging, but the world wouldn't agree, so I should just keep my creations to myself. You'll shoot your eye out, kid. And so I kept that one light inside (my love for writing) buried deep within. I still always wrote, but only ever shared anything with a very small handful of friends or my sister.
As I grew older and time marched on into middle school, high school and beyond various life experiences drove that message even deeper. The "real" you is just too "out there". Keep that part well hidden, only show the "normal" parts that everyone might be comfortable with. And then, gradually further down the spiral that message morphed into something bigger and uglier. The "real" you, or any other part of you, isn't worth knowing or loving. She isn't worth anything.
Does any of this sound familiar? After years of believing this about myself (and making life altering decisions based on that belief) I've come to realize something. It's a load of "hokum" (as Big Bang Theory's character, Sheldon, would say). It's simply not true.
Many years after the first grade incident I realized that what the teacher back then had meant as a humiliating insult could actually be taken as a compliment. What do most people do when they are stoned (besides eat)? They sit around and get philosophical and introspective! So in a really weird way she was saying I was thinking much too deeply for a first grader. OK, I'll take it!
My friends, not only is the "real you" worth knowing... being and embracing the "real you" is worth EVERYTHING. Feel that now and BELIEVE that now. That belief will seriously affect every decision in your life. It will affect the way you relate to your dog, your best friend, spouse, partner, cat, co-worker or anyone else connected to you. Don't apologize for who you are. Believe the real you is worth knowing and loving. Because, chances are, from your earliest memories of life you already knew this to be true anyway.
Namaste and Big Squeezes,
Deanna L. Moore