a.k.a: A tale of Introspection
“What happens when you don’t like being you?”
The question may sound brutal, but it’s a good occasion for a reality check. Some of us don’t like who we are, and we turn to others to define us. Meanwhile, they don’t know themselves either, and what they let you see is a poor version they’ve put together from copying traits of other people.
I never fully realized the importance of that term until now.
During the Covid-19 quarantine I wrote a novel titled “Unescorted”. The story revolves around Tegan, a young adult who freshly graduated from high school and enrolled into university. The plot unfolds on how she adapts to her new life, and more importantly, how she tries to fit in and enlarge her social circle. Being an only child, her top goal is to find the ultimate best friend.
It’s the first novel I’ve completed since I started writing. I had even uploaded the chapters here and on Wattpad. However, as I was editing, I wasn’t completely convinced so I took them down. It felt as if something was missing from the story, and a huge detail at that. What could it possibly be? I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Four months after I considered the story done, I went through a particular experience that made me realize what the novel was lacking: character. Maybe I should add that Tegan couldn’t blend in because, truthfully, she didn’t really like herself?
Bam! I caught the revelation. I think this song expresses her feelings so well:
In my personal life, ever since I was little, I heard a lot that I was too different, too quirk. Personality-wise and creativity-wise, I couldn’t fit in the same box as other kids so I felt lonely. As I grew up, when I interacted with others, my thoughts were often way ahead of time. Some people were uncomfortable around me, some were intimidated. Some found me weird, and others, interesting; but afterwards, the “newish”, entertaining impression I gave them faded. My ideas were considered creative but too far-fetched or bizarre, and many at times they were tossed aside. I’ve been misrepresented and my words misinterpreted on various occasions. “That’s not who I am”, “That’s not what I meant”: I’ve felt the urge to explain myself many times. I began accepting that maybe, they were right and that there was something wrong with me. I didn’t know what to do with all that imagination I had inside me. I kept it to myself because I didn’t want to hear those distorted perceptions about me anymore. It caused me to create a façade, a patched-up personality made of “socially accepted traits” that would adhere to “other people’s standards”. I wouldn’t speak my mind even when I felt wronged, or I wouldn’t voice my opinion or ideas, because I’d seen too many times that people didn’t take them into consideration.This went on for years.
However, one day I got to know a preacher and motivational speaker called Cindy Trimm. She often talks about how to live authentically and how to put the talents that God has given us to use. I can’t ever finish to describe the huge impact she had on me. I began to accept myself more and live more authentically without being “others-dependent”. I got a bit better, but recently went through a relapse due to certain interpersonal conflicts. They made me question myself again: “Why am I the way I am?”, “Why can’t I be more like others?”.
Then, the recent experience I mentioned earlier made me realize this: “No matter how hard you try to fix yourself, you can’t get everybody to like you. Stop sabotaging yourself as if you’re the worst human being out there, when you’re not even a criminal. The others you consider so highly at your own expense also have flaws. Moreover, people have the right to like or dislike you; in the same way, you also have the right to like or dislike them”.
Of course, it’s wrong to be too self-centered or pompous. Besides, nobody is perfect, and it’s also important to be open to receive correction or learn from others. However, when you depend so much on external points of views that you’re not yourself anymore, then there’s a problem. There is a fine line between being open-minded and being too conscious of other people’s opinions, or between being a considerate person or a pushover.
It took me years to learn to know myself, my good points, my weak points, what I have to let go or what I have to improve. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to stop wasting time on that never-ending cycle of fixing and refixing myself to blend in. I’m going to put my talents to use and make a positive impact on this world. Keeping that in mind, in the years to come, I hope the future me will look back and tell me that I did a good job.
This makes me recall a great analogy I heard (though I can’t remember where exactly): as far as social relations are concerned, we are like numbers on a dice. To some people, we are number one. To others, we are number six. Those numbers are different facets seen from different perspectives and circumstances. What I learnt from that metaphor: people’s opinions are extremely versatile, they change their minds as easily as sea waves crash on a shore.The important thing is not the numbers, but the dice.
I hope that, just like in this last song, we find the answer we need and we make peace with ourselves.
What about you? Have you ever experienced a similar situation? How did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments below!💖
Now to end on a warmer note:😊