The Courage to Be Yourself
Wednesday September 4, 2019
Yesterday, I watched my almost 18-month-old dance her heart out to some VBS songs, and I mean literally her heart out. She was full on squat-clapping (she made this move up, so impressive), swinging her arms around and over her head, stomping her feet, flapping her little hands - totally lost in the music, blissfully unaware of how she might appear to a bystander. The preciousness of it all made my heart simultaneously soar and ache (sigh, motherhood, right?).
I want so much to preserve this pure, unadulterated ability to be herself, to express all the things she feels through her words and in her body, uninhibited by fear, insecurity, self-doubt. I feel it again when I see her in the Nest Cam this morning, repeatedly giving each of her stuffed animals huge kisses and hugs, unabashedly announcing, “MMWAH!” with every kiss and, “HUG!” with every squeeze. She’s such a tenderhearted one, and I worry that mockery on the playground will one day squash this precious gift of sensitivity.
It’s so darn hard to be ourselves. The thing that seems like it should be the most natural thing in the world is anything but that. It’s taken 29 years for me to begin challenging that voice in my head that dictates my shoulds and shouldn’ts, to stop succumbing to the one that tells me I’m too this and not enough that, that it’s better to be tougher, less sensitive, to hustle harder, care less. Our society grooms us to constantly strive for better, faster, stronger - an endless go on the rat wheel - but my soul is craving more play, more wonder, more laughter, more truth.
I remember seeing a viral photo of a street full of people in South Korea, and literally 75% of the women wore variations of the same outfit, down to the color of their shoes. I laughed in disbelief then, but I realize now that the same desire to belong, to be validated by our peers, is in all of us. But to build a life on the pursuit of approval, of acceptance based on a shadow or facade of our true selves, is a tragedy. As I slowly exercise the courage to simply be me, the upkeep of that former life seems exhausting and futile, the loneliness overwhelming.
If, like me, you’re learning to be more of your truest self, embracing even the parts that you wish were different, I’m with you, sister. I’ll be over here observing fewer trends, learning what makes my soul come alive, unapologetically feeling all the things my HSP-self feels, and cheering you on :)
to more squat-clapping,