“Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”– From the movie “what a girl wants
In high school I had some seriously big bangs. In the late eighties and early nineties, the more you destroyed the ozone with Aqua Net, the better the hair. It would take me hours (seriously) to tease my hair just right, and apply just the right amount of blue eye shadow and eyeliner before I headed out the door. And I hated it, but for a high school girl, fitting in was more important than expressing who I really was. It’s like those warnings that they put on prescriptions, “your doctor has decided that the benefits of taking this medication outweigh the risks and side effects.” I was willing to deal with the dissonance inside to avoid dissonance outside.
Like a cat that decides it likes water, or the lion that lays down with the lamb, everyone of us is a unique being with a specific purpose and we are part of a cosmic design (however you want to attribute that, spiritually). As Douglas Brooks said, “You are the point the universe is trying to make.” We all know what it feels like to let go and truly be ourselves. Usually we reserve ‘letting go’ for when we’re around family; the people who love us unconditionally. We schlep around in our pajamas without makeup, we cry when we feel like crying, we fart with reckless abandon, and we let go of that clenching that we feel when we put on a facade for the rest of the world.
We live in a world where we’re scared to death of judgement and conflict, and yet it’s impossible to protect ourselves from it, so why do we expend so much energy doing it?
Around the time I left my hometown and moved to Atlanta to start a new life (15+ years ago), I decided that I would reinvent myself as myself. In other words, I’d felt I’d established such a solid alter ego that I couldn’t shake it until I went where no one knew me. So, I made a promise that I would never again hide who I was or try to conform to a persona that wasn’t me. And I don’t. I decided I didn’t care anymore about what people thought about who I was on the outside, if they didn’t want to know who I was on the inside. I became a honey badger. I wear pajamas to CVS if I have to run and get something. Don’t care. I wear whatever I find interesting and it’s often weird. Don’t care. I say what I’m feeling (unless of course it would be hurtful to someone).
I make no apologies for being different. I’ve had a friend actually say to me, “You are so weird,” to which I reply, “Thank you. Normal is boring.” The point isn’t that I’m an amazing free spirit now, because I’m far from it. The point is that it I had invested SO much energy into becoming someone else to avoid pain, I created more pain. When I let that go, I was free. I freed myself from myself.
Be yourself, everyone else is taken.