To many people, I am a conundrum.
To those that don’t know me that well I appear strong, forthright and confident on the one hand, full of opinion and gusto especially when I am passionate about something.
And then there are times when I can appear as a child – tearful, fearful, anxious about the world around me.
And then I can overshare the world around me – too much information, too much angst, too much excitement.
For years, I have struggled with these sides of my personality – so opposite, so conflicted, so seemingly at war with each other. ALL.THE.TIME!
For years, I have sought to find the middle way, the happy medium that would have me be poised, graceful, unflappable, less opinionated, less passionate, less volatile, less neurotic, less fragile.
Less. Less. Less.
Less than who I really am.
We all seek to be a better version of ourselves.
I don’t know why that is.
Is it just a need to be constantly moving forward?
Is it because the media has done an excellent job in its goal of convincing us that we are less as people and that if we just buy this one product, or dress this one way, or do this one thing, we will be better?
But better than who?
Better than our neighbour, our siblings, our family, people we don’t even know?
Whatever the reason, I, like many others – so many others – have been at war with myself for the longest time.
I have sought for so long to be a beige, washed out version of myself, invisible, calm, bland, unobtrusive, inoffensive.
Feeling emotions and displaying passion at such an intense level is frightening to so many, threatening even, perhaps. And people have not hesitated to tell me so.
Yesterday was such a moment.
A woman felt the need to tell me how I catastrophise, how I play the “victim” and throw around words like attack and abuse. The implication being, of course, in essence, that I am attention-seeking; using situations to make things out to be worse than they really are, to garner support, to elicit sympathy.
And she couldn’t wait to tell me.
Once the sting had tempered a bit and I had stemmed the tears (yes, her words hurt and no-one likes to be thought of as an inauthentic rampant drama queen) I thought about what she said.
Do I catastrophise? Probably.
Am I attention-seeking? Maybe a little bit.
Do I make situations out to be worse than they really are to elicit sympathy? This is never my intention.
But then something happened.
I thought, “So what?”
So what if I am that person?
Am I an awful person? No.
Am I a hateful person, vindictive? No.
Am I kind? Yes, mostly.
Am I passionate about causes, about my family, about my immediate community? Without question.
Here’s the thing.
Let’s just imagine that you and I are all these things that people tell us we are.
So fucking what?
It isn’t anyone’s right to tell us how awful we are as people, to point out to us all the flaws they think we possess. And that’s the point, isn’t it? This is their opinion of us. This is a reflection of how they see the world and how they think people should be. This really has nothing to do with you and me.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to be better people. But when I say better, I really mean kinder.
We are surrounded by people who are at odds with our own versions of how we think the world, and the people that inhabit it, should be.
But we are also surrounded by people who align with those versions too. We call those people our friends.
We don’t HAVE to tell people what we think about them. That is a choice.
We can just walk away.
We don’t need to be unkind to prove a point.
So they aren’t the kind of people we necessarily want to associate with. Simply walk away.
And as cliched as it may sound, try to walk away with all the love in your heart you can muster for that person.
Believe me, my friend, they are fighting as big a battle as you are. They don’t – WE don’t – need anyone to tell us all of our flaws. The world we live in today sees to it that there is no bigger critic of who we are as people than ourselves.
Kindness, to others, to ourselves, is a choice.
We have that choice. Others around us have that choice.
We live in a world that bangs on about our rights to voice our opinion.
I call bullshit!
We have a right to an opinion, but if that opinion is going to cause hurt and conflict to another person by directly attacking them, then no, you don’t have a right to voice that opinion, even if you feel that the other person really really deserves to be told.
You do have the right to simply not engage, and walk away. Just walk away.
Wish them well on their way and move on.
Yes, I am a conundrum.
Yes, I am confusing – passionate adult on the one hand, frightening at times with the voracity with which I display that passion, and a timid insecure child on the other, fearful and greatly disturbed by the world in which she currently resides.
But those that are close to me, know that whilst I am all those things and more, this is what makes me who I am and they accept me because of these things, not despite them.
My inner circle is small, very small, but I am lucky enough to have those few people who work to build me up when I am down, who hold my hand and guide me when the world seems so scary that I feel things are far worse than they probably really are. They are my light, not the person who would cut me down at the knees, keeping me in that dark place.
Recently, in the past couple of years, I have found myself questioning more and more the kinds of people I would like to fill my life. And more and more my answer is simply:
Those that are kind, and that would build me up rather than tear me down.
I hope that for you too. I wish for you to find people who build you up, who are your guiding light, who are there for you when you need them. I wish for you the ability to walk away, with your own loving kindness, from those who would seek to tear you down, to point out to you all that is wrong with you.
Because there is NOTHING wrong with YOU! You are simply not their cup of tea, not the right fit for them. I say it again:
You are perfect and there is nothing wrong with you.
For no one has the right to do that to another human being, to tear them down, to make them feel less than who they inherently are. The world is too full of that right now. Too full of rights, and opinions, and slashing down of other human beings.
The world needs more kindness, to ourselves and to others.
Be kind to yourself, and to others, and the world will be a better place for it.