BE YOURSELF, THE WORLD WILL JUDGE YOU EITHER WAY
I’m a difficult person to get to know. I acknowledge that. I accept it. This is probably why I get so attached in the rare occasions that I do let people in. Some of you can probably relate. Your life, most likely, hasn’t been a walk through the park so you have a shield, and a sword, and big walls and whatnot. All meant to keep you safe from all the hurt and disappointment that lurks outside.
You have hundreds of acquaintances who smile when they see you and tell you that you should catch up sometimes or maybe you don’t really talk to people all together. The one thing you have in common is that only a select few get to know the real you. The you who was bullied in school and still feels the sting, the you who cries at pathetic chick-flicks, the you who just needs to be held every now and again. You feel like a clown, day after day, playing a pathetic part in a pathetic play you never wanted to be a part of to begin with. You don’t fit, like a piece of puzzle who got lost in a wrong box.
This is how I feel, day after day. I've been wearing a socially accepted mask ever since I can remember. This is the reason why finding people I can connect with is such a big deal. And I get excited and clingy and overwhelming.
I've given pieces of my heart to these people. Pieces of myself. My fears, my hopes and dreams, my aspirations, I have shared it all with them. Because it felt right. And I would do it again in the blink of an eye. But then, sooner or later our ideas would clash. My enthusiasm would annoy them, and we would fight with silent communication. The forlorn typing bubble, or the blueness of when they finally said what they meant.
It's those things that make me think; surely it be easier if we could hand people study sheets? Here’s a comprehensive list of who I am! The quirks! The flaws! The things I'm terribly insecure about! If only someone could read a chapter and suddenly know you completely. We want people to know us and understand everything, even though that’s not something anyone can guarantee. It’s a pretty loft order when we often struggle to even know ourselves. So, we start to explain. We defend actions with whatever logic we can pull out. We tell stories of our childhood, pinpoint moments that must have made us this way. We can’t shake this need to make sure others know there is a rhyme and reason to why we do the things we do. That it isn’t all just a frivolous mess. You want to explain yourself.
But if I've ever learned anything, it's that you don’t owe this world an explanation for who you are. You don’t owe an explanation for how you got here. And you damn sure don’t owe an explanation for who you are becoming. Your purpose in life isn't to get someone you barely know to understand your eccentricities. Your purpose is to find internal love, give external love, to be hurt, rise above it. Your purpose in life, frankly, is to find your way through it and to be yourself. Sometimes, the journey is beautiful. And sometimes, it is about just getting through this part.
This doesn't mean you’re off the hook if you behave like an asshole, simply that you don’t owe people explanations for who you are. You could spend a lifetime trying to describe all the pieces that make you up. Why you smile at that certain song. Or how you always laugh at that one lame commercial. You can like what you like. You can do the things you enjoy. Why feel the need to throw in “guilty pleasure” disclaimers? Why are we so consumed with how others perceive us? Why aren’t we as concerned with how often we are honouring our authentic selves?
Here comes the downside. Whoever you are, the world is going to judge you. Some people will just up and leave one day. After asking myself “why” for a very long time, I’ve reached the conclusion that time acts like a sieve that filters out those who weren’t worthy or willing or whatnot to be a part of yourself. Nobody comes into our life by mere coincidence so I bet even these people had a role. A role I have a hard time figuring out but I’m sure it’s there.
I’ve lost a lot of friends. Or maybe pushed away is the correct term if I’m being completely honest to myself. There are people in this world who know parts of me I’ve never shown to anybody. There are people in this world who I can read like an open book. I carry them with me everywhere I go. And I sure as hell know that they carry a piece of my heart with them. I haven’t spoken to most of these people in months, maybe years.
I love them to this very day and until the day I will give my last breath. They helped build me. I love them and they’ll never know. When they see me walking down the street and suddenly get fascinated with their phones, I love them. I love them when I’m weak and vulnerable and try to reach out but they never pick up the phone.
After a while, you just make peace with the fact that these people have to become just bittersweet memories. I no longer have the privilege to talk to them or even acknowledge their existence, but sometimes I still feel the pulse of our bond, like a wave of magic flowing through my heart.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this and I figured out that not everything in the world gets a happy ending. I won’t share my most intimate secrets with those people when I’m old and wrinkled because it’s the moments I have already lived that matter. And nobody can ever take those away from me. So I will continue to love them even if my entire being is telling me to let go already. How can I let go when I still have these memories that either hug me gently or rip me apart?
So here’s my advice for those of you who think of somebody they’ve lost at this very moment: Cherish their memory but don’t hold on too tight. It’s easy to get lost in the past and forget the present. It’s easy to forget the friends who have actually stuck with you through thick and thin. But you shouldn’t ever miss out on the now.
I’ll always have a little love for people I no longer have the privilege to talk to. My heart will break a little if theirs ever will. I’ll never tell them that, but I’ll feel it and maybe they’ll feel it too. So is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it? Perhaps I’ll never know.
We aren’t solitary creatures. We live in a society, it’s built into the word — others are there too. But they don’t have the blueprint to your success, your happiness, your sadness, your anything else. Sometimes, it’s okay to just take a breath and say, “This is who I am. That’s okay. And I don’t have to explain it.”