On Being Yourself

There has been or will be a point in your life when you were or will be scared or ashamed of being who you are.

For most of us, this time is focused in our teenage years. Hormones are surging through our bodies like heroin in a junkie and we have no clue what to do with those hormones or more specifically how the hormones make us feel. We feel sad, we feel angry, and we feel attracted to people we weren’t attracted to before. And with all this confusion, all we want is acceptance. And this leads to a fear of being who we are. In our teenage minds, we are strange freaks that no one else could possibly understand. And therefore we seek to mask or hide our true selves or what we believe at that time to be our true selves and replace is with what you believe to be normal.

I had this feeling for a long time in my adolescence. First of all, I was a chubby kid, I grew out of that to an extent by middle school (I am still a bit on the heavy side) but I never shook off the chubby kid mentality. In addition, I had a lot of nerdy preoccupations that my peers did not share such as reading and discussing politics with my parents. In 7th or 8th grade, I finally made some friends who I felt akin to, who were strange like me. And it was at that point that I let go (as much as insecure teenagers do). I like my freak flag wave, as they say. And this continued into high school where I joined the drama club. And no matter how strange I had thought I was. I was no match for the nerdy strangeness of some in the drama club. But drama club gave me a safe space to explore who I was and be okay with who that was.

I moved into college confidant with who I was. And though some might not believe this, I joined a sorority and that further supported me in feeling safe and secure in being who I was. Of course in college part of who I was, was a girl trying to get a date and doing quite a bit of binge drinking. But no one looked down on me for that. And no one looked down on me for being enthralled with Shakespeare’s comedies or political science. And my sorority sisters appreciated my sarcastic sense of humor and the fact that I was geeky enough that I could help them fix their computers. The Greek system is not all about conformity, as the movies lead you to believe.

And then I struck out in my confident, happy to be me kind of way to law school where it seemed being me, made me friends and made some people not like me so much. I was one of those geeky law students who sat in the front row and liked to answer questions (when I wasn’t terrified or under prepared). But I was fine (most the time) with people not liking me. And I met my husband at that time and as he is my twin soul, finishing my sentence before I had even fully formulated it, I felt even more justified in being the person I had become.

However, even today there are times when I want to hide the person I am and put on a different face. In my professional life, it is not always easy to be the kind of person who has a sarcastic remark on hand and it can in fact get me into trouble with co-workers and others involved. But for the most part I am happy being me and I am not ashamed to show myself to the world.

That is why; I suppose I find it so amazing that people in this world, even older than myself still create facades behind which they hide away whoever they truly are. Is it for the same reasons I hid when I was a teenager, because they long to be accepted and believe that no one can accept them as they are? Is it be shady purposes to do damage or harm to another or de fraud?

I seem this most often via the Internet. You see people who clearly cannot be portraying their true selves. I can be identifiable by the pictures they post of themselves or the claims they make. Sometimes, I just have an instinct that what I am reading cannot possibly be a representation of a true self. And perhaps that is just the nature of the Internet. It allows people to present only what they want to present. They can hide the flaws and really who likes to showcase those? And people are able to do this same thing even offline. Somehow showing a side that doesn’t not seem authenticate and yet what is true is unknown. They are hiding something.

But still I wonder if those same things the person finds to be flaws might not be the things that people would find most endearing if they would just let it out there.

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