The Risqué We Take
Is there any other species on the entire planet that worries about not being perceived as authentic?
It wasn’t even that thought that led me to realize how absurd it was to feel this way: a fear of people thinking I am not a genuine person. All I had to do was look back on the friends I made when I felt like I was being myself versus those I made when I was trying to fit into a mold and the conclusion is clear. I’ve made way better friends since I started being myself. And yet, I’m still not so sure I’ve fully realized myself. Which is great news because that just means there are more genuine friends out there for me to attract. The only thing is, in order to find them, I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to put myself out there as someone who entertains obscure ideas because those are what interest me.
I was conditioned to think that putting myself out there meant I was being fake. I always hated that insult possibly more than I hated being called a ‘moron’. It made me always question whether I was coming across the way I intended and, more often than not, I would overcorrect. When you perceive yourself in a critical way, its difficult for people to be around you. They may start doing that same thing to themselves and nobody wants to feel that way. We project out how we feel. Its no wonder I was not able to get close to people because I wasn’t letting them in out of fear that my true self was not good enough.
I’d wager that most of the time, when we do what we love, there will be some folks that don’t like what we are doing. It may run counter to their thinking or they may actually see something within you that they don’t like about themselves. The fact that you just casually flaunt a side of you that they keep hidden (maybe without even realizing it) can cause bitterness. There’s no guarantee they will be the bitter one, though. They will attempt to make you bitter by bringing you down with insults or betrayal. It is very important to not let other people’s insecurities weigh you down in that sense.
Whats worse is that if you do allow the naysayers to get under your skin, they can alter your trajectory in life. We are led by what motivates and excites us or we can be led by people that judge us. Either way, we move toward what we think will bring us happiness. If belonging is the most important aspect of life, we will do whatever it takes to be associated with a group. However, a lot of us may not have the time to look for a group that we feel a real connection with because we’ve been led to believe we have to work for a retirement fund to which we might not even make it.
The group that believes that myth will all hang out together and because they are putting their life on hold for a future that isn’t guaranteed, they will be jealous of those that take early risks for potentially huge pay outs. Instead of sitting idly by, they will continue to remind you of the risks you are taking. They will perpetuate fear because they have nothing better to do outside of office hours than spread the fear they feel when considering an uncertain future. It is their choice that security in the future is more important than living a fulfilled life in the present, and God bless them for that, they could turn out to be right. But at the same time they are right about which circumstances led them to happiness, so too can the person who found happiness in living for the day and not tomorrow.
Something within me does not want to have a public persona. I write under a pen name but its not that difficult to find my real name. I don’t want to be ridiculed for my opinions but that fear forces me to miss out on the incredible relationships that I could develop out of people knowing me fully. The only way they can know me completely is if I give them permission. I have to allow people to see my dark side in order for them to know me.
This is why I’ve been exposing my past in these posts. At first I thought it was for a cathartic practice, but it turns out that knowing myself allows others to know me. The real me. Even this fear I am talking about is part of it. I recognize that putting it in writing makes it concrete and something I have to contend with from now on. If you wanted to really bring me down, all you’d have to say is that I’m a fake bitch and I’d probably end up crying myself to sleep. I honestly am already kind of laughing about it because I realize how insignificant the person that used to call me that is now.
Its much more comfortable to remain the same person you were yesterday so that everyone around you can feel like they know you. But chances are they only know one side of you. The fear of judgement paralyzes us. It forces us to forego those things that bring us joy and cast them away as guilty pleasures that we can only indulge in when no one is looking. We go to great lengths to hide the parts of us that make us happy and that is just about the saddest part.
We all have secrets and we must be careful with whom we share them or not feel betrayed when our trust is broken. I lean more in the direction of trust fully and allow them to break your heart. Not only does this provide me with an eternal well of creative imagination (the best artists have tormented hearts, don’t they?) but it also allows me to practice the subtle art of not giving a fuck. If I were to live in fear of betrayal that never manifested, I’ll have wasted an entire life worrying. If, instead, I trust with an open heart that the world is good then I am more likely to find that good, even if it is through a process of elimination.
Ultimately, that dumb fuck that used to tell me I was fake was seeing something in me that he didn’t like. He saw authenticity and pure bliss and he wanted that for himself. He could not stand to be in my presence when I was in that state so he tried to bludgeon it out of me and it worked. But now I have forgiven myself for allowing someone else to determine what was real for me. Stay bound by the opinions of others or allow your true self to guide you, that is the risk we take.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Originally written in Collective Journaling at The Stoa