//becoming you

Rana, a beautiful young woman I’m proud to have as a friend, left this comment on my ‘Dear Younger Me’ letter. She said,

“Could you do a post on loving without fear of judgement and/or just being plain excited? It sounds like you were afraid to show people what you loved once upon a time too.”

I told her I could, because it’s an area I’m very familiar with. A few days later, we Skyped and discussed it face to face. I apologized for not having the post up yet – I’d written the first two sentences, but become distracted. (Happily, after seven years, I have my mother watching the KDrama most important to me, and she’s completely hooked. ‘Hooked’ means we watch three or four episodes a day, and blogging takes a back seat.) Rana told me it was fine, and not to worry. Then she asked, “It sounds painful.”

“What does?”

“Letting everyone see you like that. I mean….”

I knew what she meant. “It is painful,” I agreed, and pondered how to encourage her without sounding dismal. I decided not to bother coating the subject with sugar, and so I repeated, “It is painful. I remember when I used to keep everything to myself – people think I’m private now.” I laughed. “But, I mean, of course it’s going to hurt, because you’re opening yourself up to criticism. Not everyone is going to love what you love or agree with you on everything.”

Rana nodded. “That’s why I tend to keep most things to myself.”

“It’s easier that way. When you fall really enthusiastically in love with something and everyone knows it, you’re opening yourself up for criticism, and that usually hurts. I know personally that…the things I love mean a lot to me, and when people are harsh toward what I love and treat it badly, I feel like they’re treating me badly. It’s hard to separate the two.”

“So why did you?” Rana asked.

“I reached a point where I realized nobody knew me,” I said, remembering the years I spent shut up inside myself, watching but refusing to speak. “They didn’t know me at all. It was something my Mom said once that made me realize what I needed to change. She asked why I never talked with her about what I loved. I told her it was because she wasn’t interested. With gentle reproach, she said, ‘I’m not interested in it, but I’m interested in you’.”

It was a startling realization – that I was, without realizing it, being selfish. From that point on, I slowly began to open up. I would have a thought, and catch myself in the act of locking it back up. I had to force myself to speak my mind, but over time, it became a habit. I started to become myself. You know what? I don’t regret any of it.

I told Rana, “It’s still painful at times, to have something I love ridiculed – but just because someone else doesn’t love what I love, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop loving it. Their dislike of something won’t change how I feel about it, and I’m not going to change myself just because someone else doesn’t have the same opinion as I do.”

I get letters and emails and messages from people thanking me for being so open, for being myself, and I always tell them the same thing – I didn’t ‘become myself’ overnight. Being yourself is a habit you need to form, not a miracle. You don’t go to sleep one night and wake up as your whole, complete self the next morning. It’s something you have to allow, and it takes no small amount of bravery. I’ve seen too many people afraid to be everything they could be, and as a result, they’re the unhappiest people I’ve ever known.

So rip off the band-aid, even if the ripping takes a year or more. You weren’t created to hide away as a shadow of yourself. Nobody else can be you, so do everyone a favor, and do it right.

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20 thoughts on “//becoming you

  1. Thank you for this, Mirriam. I’ve learned how to be a bit more open and not be afraid of everyone’s opinion of me, but I know I have a long ways to go yet. You have an uncanny ability to post things like this just when I need them (or maybe God just uses you to bless me and help me at the right times. Yep. I think that’s it ^^).

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  2. I think that this is beautifully said; and I agree with it. Share your passions and your interests with your parents, friends, and family, let them get to know the real you! Because after all, Yahweh put you in the family He put you in for a reason; to strengthen and bless those people.

    Realize as you do this, there are going to be hiccups (not everyone is going to love k dramas the way you will, or 19th century poets, or rhododendrons and that’s okay) and even disagreements (remember Merry pointed out that her mother doesn’t LIKE vampires but will talk about the theological implications and LISTEN to Merry when she wants to talk about them) but share your heart anyway.

    Just because someone you love disagrees with you, that shouldn’t take away the joy of the thing that you love.*

    *Caveat: There may be some things you get *challenged* on when you share your love for them, like vampires. This is the hard part: listen to the challenge, think about what the person said that is negative about what it is you love, and then pray about it. There are things that ALL of us are drawn to that while lawful, are not the kind of things that help us grow as Christians.

    And there might be some things that are down right not healthy that when you tell someone about your interest in them, they will challenge you to let them go all together for the sake of your testimony, and for Christ.

    But please, please please know, you are a treasure. And locking yourself up inside yourself robs the rest of us of that glorious splendor.

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  3. I feel you, Mirriam. There are a lot of things I like that the people I love just don’t get. Some people even think I’m weird for liking those things. But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t love these things.

    And it doesn’t stop there. It’s more than just the things you love. It’s the things you experience. It’s the things you hate. It’s the things that make you sad or mad. It’s transparency and vulnerability in every area of life. I promise myself every day that if I think that my being transparent or vulnerable with someone might help them, then what right have I to withhold myself?

    We owe it to the world to be the truest version of ourselves.

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  4. I still struggle with this, after years and years of several types of criticism. I have no problem with being open about the stuff that I’m interested in, and in turn I feel like I’m boring people or that I’m a struggle to be around. I’m not like most people nearby to me, and the people I know in real life who identify as “the outcasts” with me are not the kind of people I should hang out with. I’m such an odd combination of crazy, mixed up emotions that I don’t know what to do with myself. I usually end up shutting down and trying to get some alone time, because I know if I try to “be myself” I’m going to get hurt. I don’t want to be around people who hurt me, but in many cases I have no choice. I’m trying my hardest to love these people, but it’s tricky when you don’t receive the same love in return.

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    1. Ouch. That sounds like a very sharp place to live.

      If I might be pokey-bold, what kind of things do you like?

      You never know, you might not be as alone in your liking them as you think, here. I mean the internet is wonderful in that it connects people who would not normally meet (and geek) over the same things and like Lewis said friendship is born when one person says to another “You too? I thought I was the only one.”

      So what unique or not main stream things perk your interest?

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  5. This post goes in my happy folder. <3

    Thank you so much for your time that Saturday and every time you stop to just chat. Every conversation sheds a little more light on life and makes it rather hopeful. You give me a new perspective and the mentality that, "Oh. Someone's been in my shoes and look at who they've become. They love themselves. I love them. I can be like that too."

    And I guess it's not just, one day, it's the right day and boom. You're you and everyone knows it. Like you said during the Skype call: "Any day you decide to open up becomes the right day."

    I feel like, now it's to the point where I really don't like a lot of things because I feel that I can't share it with someone who 'gets it' or someone will ruin it for me or I'll be labeled weird or something. I didn't realize it until just now but I guess I care a little too much about what other people think…

    Thank you for having the courage to be you. <3 (And I'm still laughing over the Key story. Honestly, I'm surprised with how well you're dealing with the fact that you walked passed him and weren't able to say hi.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This strikes a nerve in me. I’ve tried to show stuff to my parents, but it’s too easily for me to become frustrated or too shy. Especially when they can’t get into it. It’s easier for me to hide in my bubble, but “well they aren’t interested… so why waste my breath?”

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    1. You know Merry, I think it would fantastic if you would INTERVIEW YOUR MOM and *cough* post it here as a kinda ‘how to share things with your parents when your parents aren’t really interested’ cos she knocked it out of the ball park with “I’m not interested in that, but I am interested in listening to YOU.” She probably has some cool tips for sharing without MAKING YOUR PARENTS EYES GLAZE OVER or you know, bug out of their sockets.

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  7. This is so important, because for years I would hide what I loved to avoid judgement or criticism. I would even bash what I liked, and agree with people just to avoid confrontation, and now that I decided I’m not going to do that, and I’m going to be open. Some of my friends accuse me of lying and changing. I guess in a way it was lying, but I was just scared.
    Then I realized I cared way too much about what other people thought, and as long as whatever I liked wasn’t against God it was fine. His is the only opinion that matters anyways.

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    1. I would add to your very right-on thoughts Skye, if you don’t take the risk and share, you won’t find the people who think like you, the ones that are looking with someone to connect with over shared love of unusual things. Like rhododendrons or k dramas or calligraphy.

      Yeah, people might mock or tease, but the thing is keeping it to yourself 100% guarantees that you won’t find your kinda people, your tribe as it were.

      Also, I can tell you here, hanging out at Merry’s blog as often as I do, this is a place to go “Hey, anyone else know about ____________ or like ________________? Am I the only one who reads _________________?”

      As long as it honors Christ, then share your passions here! You never know who might go “THIS IS SO STINKING COOL HOW HAVE I LIVED WITHOUT KNOWING ABOUT THIS” when you share.

      I have learned more about Imperial Russia and cosplay and k dramas and Marvel story lines and gaming and MMORPGs from my friends than all my years on my own. Are we all INTENSE about the same things? No.

      But there’s enough passion we have in common to make us stick to each other as friends for life. It’s fun listening to my pals regal me with what they love. And they listen to me ramble on about early sci-fi books and Jane Austin and altered paper art and Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and writing and through the sharing what we love, we find we aren’t as different as we thought.

      So, be bold. Share. Share what you are passionate about.

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