I immediately disliked her.
I found her enthusiasm annoying, grating, juvenile – the world isn’t gonna’ turn out like you think it will, is what I secretly thought.
But I’ve been thinking a lot about who I am these days. And I’ve been re-thinking my previous assessments. I’m starting to realise that I don’t dislike her because she reminds me of a young, silly gullible me but because she’s actually a better version of me. She’s me, that part of me I once was, that I was supposed to grow into that I suddenly steered away from. Brakes screeching on.
She’s doing me, so much better than me.
She embraces her oddities, her strangeness, her skills, her words, without any self conscience. She’s me, but she’s not, because she’s embraced it.
A while ago I was a little different. I shared a lot more of me in public, gave into oddities, expressed more feeling. And over the years I heard people thought me too ‘whimsical’ ‘weird’ and even ‘wild’. Someone I cared for at the time emphasised this by calling me ‘flakey’. He said others, people around him saw me like this too.
‘You’re not a solid person,’ he said.
And it’s funny how words can affect you. You think they don’t, but they do. So I tried working on myself, making myself more reliable, more solid, more strong. I grew a kind of shell around me and closed up. I worked on being ‘solid’. I became quiet. Toned down my persona. Used solid-sounding words like ‘dependable’ and ‘fixtures’. I tried to be someone I thought others would want me to be.
And I suppose that’s where it began to unravel.
Changing yourself for others is the beginning of the end.
Now that I’m a little older, and I’ve met this girl, I’ve been thinking a lot of who I was before. Before I let the inadequate perceptions of others change who I was.
I didn’t need to be made to feel like I was less of a person for having those qualities.
I regret that I allowed other people to dictate who I become. I have always been a dreamer. It makes me who I am. I love my quirks, my emotions, my tenderness, my regrets, my explosions, my gratitude, my dreams and my ability to love with everything I have. I’m the girl who shaves her hair off, gives strangers her earrings in a bathroom, wears a yellow bag with red shoes, puts in blue extensions, hugs crying strangers and tries to learns ballet in her twenties. I cry a lot, laugh easily and believe in love and goodness and miracles. I have so much hope some days I don’t know how to contain it. I am in constant awe of the world.
These things make me who I am.
So I can be a bit of a dreamer and maybe to some people, who will never know me this makes me seem less solid, untrustworthy. Thats okay, that’s their problem, not mine.
When I meet that girl again, I’m going to tell her I’m proud of her, I’m proud she’s willing to stand out as who she is. It’s a rare, rare thing in the world to be yourself, I want to tell her. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, to listen too hard to what everyone else is saying and to forget who you are.
My grandmother used to say, ‘I am what I am and I don’t give a damn!’ Granted she seems to have appropriated Shakespeare but you get the point. We are who we are in distinct ways and we need to love who we are to be able to survive everything life is going to throw our way. And life is going to throw things our way.
Having a sense of self is our first source of solace when things start to go crazy.
Those people who called me flakey, weird, crazy, etc. They’re not going to be living my life.
And I think I am going to start right now.
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"The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours."