It’s so easy to look at something as insightful or inspiring, and respond “Preach!”, as though we’re confirming an absolute, rather than looking at it as what it really is; an opinion soaked in a lifetime of personal circumstance, culture, and outside influence. I’m afraid of those words which seem too good to be true; too smooth; too ‘one-size-fits-all’.
That’s not to say the words and sentiments, aren’t good, right in some instances, and always well-meaning, but are they truths?
For some, perhaps, some of the time, or at a specific moment in time voicing with piercing clarity the thing needed to be said or heard, but we stray from truth into subjective experience, with a fine veil of grey, deepening undetectably, between fact and feeling, between experience and preciseness.
I took it upon myself to examine then-me and now-me, and see whether there’s a continuum, of self-ness, to open my mind to the idea that perhaps then-me was as good (or not) as now-me is, but was confronted by circumstances beyond my control, which compiled the negatives and labelled them time and time again as truth, reinforcing them through ignorant behaviour, despite any efforts directed towards the opposite.
Perhaps I wasn’t so bad after all.
I could never believe I was as good as the best that was thought of me, even though I knew that ‘best’ was told ardently, with love, from a few sources who labelled it “Truth” and so, in their eyes, according to their subjective opinion and the sum of their experiences, it was.
It was never a ‘truth’ I could accept. My perspective was veiled, my vision damaged by impact of the constant shredding of my much younger self.
It’s easy, as an adult, to stick your middle finger up at those who publicly criticize you. To be your own, brave, beautiful self, dance to the beat of your own drum, and cry behind closed doors at the wounds rejection never fails to inflict. But as a child? Impossible. We look to those around us for “truth”. We interpret the world through their older/wiser/better eyes, for we know little except that we know nothing.
Our world begins, and all we know is what we feel. As we develop, we learn to incorporate the views and opinions of others. We interpret their behaviours and our brains find patterns which (rightly or wrongly) make some kind of sense of experience.
Perhaps the traits people value in me now and the characteristics I’m learning to appreciate and like about myself were there all along. I changed, after all, determined that I would alter my behaviour until I was one of those ‘nice people everybody liked’, until I could be said to have a personality people warmed to and wanted to be around, until I could sparkle, just a little bit at the edges.
I worked hard. I changed, or so I thought, from old-me to new-me, trying to generate distance between the two halves of self. Faking it, untruthfully portraying to have been a nice person all along. Finding delight and the boost of my efforts working. I became a reasonably kind, compassionate, caring person, who people liked to be around.
A liar. An impostor. A cheat.
A pretender to the title of anything sparkly, brightshiny or good.
That was the person people wanted to see, that was a version of “truth”, a cliche personality, a person who can’t say no, a “people’s person” someone who can be controlled, someone who is seemingly all the way in the light, a person without darkness, a beautiful lie.
I feel more in the grey than ever. This time, though, it’s a grey which promises to lighten as time goes by. A grey which swirls with confusion, new thoughts, and sparks of possibility. A grey which holds hope.
Who am I now? I have no idea, yet in the midst of my grey, and my wondering, I can affirm two things, absolutely, without any need to resort to subjectivity or opinion.
Nothing is black and white,
We’re all a mixture. 🌹