To be nobody but yourself in a world
that’s doing its best to make you somebody else,
is to fight the hardest battle you’re very going to fight.
~e. e. cummings
authentic: 1. true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character is sincere and authentic with no pretensions
After my daughter was born, I was standing one day outside the nursery looking at her. There she was lying side by side with the 50+ other children who’d be born that day, and none of them looked anything alike. It dawned on me then that it didn’t matter to her or me, for all she knew was to be was exactly who and what she had just been born to be. But soon she began to grow and learn like all children, and it wasn’t long before she could walk and talk as well as listen to what was being said around her. Sadly one day she heard someone make fun of her birthmark, and it hurt her feelings. Then there was the salesman at a shoe store who made a big deal about her little feet that turned in a bit too much. When he sent us to another store for “corrective” shoes, again her little sensitive feelings got hurt from the perception that she was not “normal.” And on and on stories like that go, not just for her, but for all of us. Our defining moments are certainly not all the same as hers, but similar incidents began way, way back there to make all of us have doubts and fears that we were somehow not as we should be. And then our school days began, and belittling voices became an almost daily thing. Moreover with every advancing year, the voices of derision and mockery multiplied, growing louder and more demanding. The rest is her story to tell, and I’ll leave that up to her to do so when and if she gets ready some day.
But I can give you a look at how it went for me. It started with the reality that I am quite a bit taller than most girls/women, and so I was called a giant and made fun of as such. I wear glasses and I was called the unflattering moniker, “4” eyes; I have lots and lots of freckles and was teased about having the uncomely brown “spots;” I used to be extremely skinny and was called names like stick girl and so on. So how did I cope with things like these and more that hurt my feelings, and how did I attempt to “fit in.” Well, in the beginning I tried anything and everything to change who I was based solely on superficial aspects. For it didn’t matter one iota to the mockers that I’m intelligent or that I’m sensitive or that I’m creative or that I’m compassionate/caring or that I’m fun-loving and have a great sense of humor and so on. Simply put, I handed myself over to a self-inflicted betrayal as well as forfeiting my power to grow into all that I was meant to be and giving up my freedom to the “they,” that mysterious, mystically misguiding, detrimentally defining “they.” How did I do it? By slumping down in chairs so as not to appear so tall, by taking my glasses off and hiding them in my pocket while I struggled to see, by buying gallons of lotions that supposedly removed freckles, by wearing clothes that made me look less thin and then eventually by eating too much so as not to be too thin any longer. And I became very shy and withdrawn so as keep myself from being open to ridicule for saying something the “they” deemed silly or not “cool.” In other words I changed my façade and neglected things, far, far more important things that made me uniquely me. It wasn’t a version of me; it was simply a deception, a falsehood, a lie!!!
To be continued…
See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion. ~Isaiah 41:29 ✝
**Left photo above is my daughter; right photo is myself at about the same age.