This is part one of a series of posts I’ll be sharing over the next two weeks or so on the ideas around who we are, what makes us ourselves, and truly digging to figure things out.
We all do this. Think of the advice, “Fake it ‘till you make it.” It’s something I think on, often, when caught in circumstances outside my control, when I want to wail and complain instead of doing something about it.
(Which is important. I re-learned that recently, and will write about that in another blog post.)
So I pretend I know what I’m doing. Pretend there aren’t roadblocks in my way, that everything will work out, that there’s nothing to the fear griping my heart. It makes taking risks easier, but can also block out those trickier aspects of life that need honest, heartfelt attention.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find a balance. And often, we lose ourselves completely while we think we’re making great strides in the right direction. It’s a gradual process, a shedding of skin as we walk forward in the sunshine, trying to reach for stars that only appear at night. But I think, as we do this, we lose much more than the negatives we’re trying to walk away from. That, in taking a self-inventory, we mistake strength or ability for something too abrasive for our new Ideal Self and thus, shed it with everything else.
My friend said to me this week, “What happened to that girl I knew in high school? You were on the ball, and even intimidated me sometimes.”
Which is a good question, and one I didn’t have an answer to.
In high school, I was sharp, witty, and sarcastic. I didn’t take shit from anyone, and I was often the loudest voice in the room. When a teacher told me I’d never get higher than a C in English class, having been absent for a month to recover from a bad fall, I told her to shut it and finished the year with a B+. I laughed and took charge and stung people with my sarcasm. Yes, I had problems, was going through my own issues, but wow, was I a spitfire.
So who was this girl, sitting at the table, shy and quiet and just taking all the shit?
And I realized that, somewhere over the past two years, I’d folded. Threw in my cards and decided to not even play the game. I was willing to take insults and yelling; I was willing to give up my voice to avoid confrontation. To be honest, I’m sick of it. Tired. Done. And that is the mistake I made.
In wanting to avoid confrontation, I’d silenced myself.