Sunday, February 26, 2012

I've Got To Be Me

I have sat at this computer, contemplating this blog, many times before. I have written about what makes me mad, and sad, and thrilled and scared. I wondered aloud and ranted even louder. I have thrown questions to the blogosphere and in doing so, at myself.

For your part, you have listened, and consoled, and commiserated, and countered with questions of your own. We have discussed flaws and character traits, nasty neighbors and crazy kids, what feeds our soul and what pains us deeply.

And we have done it all, you and I, with truth.

One of my earliest blog posts (Oct. '09) was about honesty. Honesty with ourselves and who we are and what makes us, us. And for better or worse, and for all our attempts to change if we so desire, we are still only who we are at our core. And we must, ultimately accept that.

Back then, I posed this question to my facebook friends: "Why can't people be honest about themselves?" The overwhelming majority of the responses came back with variations on a theme: I know who I am, but I'm only willing to show a version of myself to everyone else because, fill in the blank... I don't want to be hurt, I don't want to be judged, I don't want to have to explain myself. But there is something that I've learned in my journey to self discovery. Being hurt or judged or having to explain oneself, is all on us. The other person didn't really make us feel that way. WE made us feel that way.

And why? Because, yes, their comments hit a soft spot, a flaw we see in ourselves that we were hoping no one else would notice. Now they have reinforced the bad feeling we have about ourselves. But all too often, that's where the story seems to end. We wallow in those feelings and relive the situation countless times. We don't move forward and we don't fix anything. We are the car stuck in the mud with the driver sitting inside bemoaning his fate but not doing anything about it.

As most of you know, I work at our local elementary school and almost daily I am confronted with situations in which I am asked to dispense advice. "Miss Bonnie, she called me short." "But you are short. So what is the problem." Usually that kind of response is met with a blank stare so I go on to explain. "If someone says something to you that is true, your response should be Yes. I know. If someone says something untrue, or meant to hurt your feelings like Your shirt is ugly. Just agree with them the same way Yes. I know. The point of anyone saying something nasty to you is to get a reaction. So don't give them one." [To date, that piece of advice has worked 100% of the time.]

Where am I going with all of this? I'll tell you. If we are honest with ourselves about our flaws, then we can be honest with others about them too. No need to hide. In fact, in expressing your acceptance of your own shortcomings you may just free someone else to do the same.

Just be who you are. If some people are turned off by that, then that's on them. You don't want people in your life that only like the fake version of you. And let's be "honest", you can't keep up the facade forever. In the end, the real you will come shining through... you've got to be you.

OK then, I'll go first... I'm short and right now, I'm wearing an ugly shirt ;-)

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