George Bernard Shaw said – Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.
I was in hiding for years; I tried with all my might to summon strength enough to pull myself up and into the light of life, but I always seemed to remain imprisoned within the shadows of my heart; at least I thought I was. I realized one day everyone could see me. The invisible walls I thought concealed and contained me were nothing more than an illusion of my own making. My vision tainted by the very mask I’d been using to hide.
Throughout my life I’ve tried on various masks, some were to hide from fear, some from pain, some from memories. None of them ever fit just right, but I slipped each one over my soul, disregarding the discomfort. I became used to it. I convinced myself I donned each mask for the sake of someone else. I fooled myself into thinking I could never be without one.
Horace Mann – Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.
I feared what would be thought of me if the ones I loved knew all my truths, my fears, and my failures, real or perceived. I didn’t want them to see who I was because I had somehow forgotten my real self, I’d buried her beneath unrealistic, self-imposed responsibilities and expectations. I was crushed beneath the ideals of who I thought I was supposed to be. I don’t know how much I missed, how much of me I robbed from those I loved while pretending to be more or less of who I actually was.
Now, I think back on it and I’m not certain what it was I actually feared. I knew they would not stop loving me, but the little voice that so often whispers words only we can hear, told me they would think I was weak. It told me I had to hide, no one could know of my secret shames even though deep down I knew I’d nothing to be ashamed of. But that little voice told me to hide it all, so I hid.
Japanese proverb – Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.
I tried to hide from my family and my friends, but the one I tried the hardest to hide from was myself. I didn’t want to face what I saw as flaws and inadequacies. I turned away from myself so I would not be forced to look upon what I thought were my failures. I thought if I stayed hidden and just played the role of the person I imagined I was supposed to be it would make it all easier. I was wrong.
Confucius – Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
The person I pretended to be was stronger and braver and smarter than I thought I was. The fake self I presented to the world fooled no one but me. The fear and the doubt I didn’t want anyone to see, that I didn’t want to feel, was always right there beneath the surface of my faulty facade. It was the dark that dimmed the light in my eyes. I was wrong to think I needed to hide who I was and how I felt. It took me a long time to realize and recognize my only true fault was trying to hide who I was.
Robert Louis Stevenson – To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.
It turned out I was human, and it was actually okay to be human. I found my strength in what I thought was weakness. I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I found faith in myself through my fading doubt. I still struggle, but I believe in myself more than I ever thought was possible.
My flowing tears were healing rivers and my broken heart mended my soul. There was a time I thought I needed to hold back the flood, that it would somehow drown me, I found instead, releasing it allowed me to breathe again. What I thought was heartbreak was heartache that simply needed nurturing.
Siren Kierkegaard – There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming.
Sometimes, I still hear that awful little voice telling me I’m not worthy of even myself. I no longer listen, I choose not to listen and I choose to be who I truly am. I admit to sometimes smiling when I do not feel like smiling, I say I’m okay when I may not really be, but I catch myself. I refuse to allow myself to find comfort beneath those masks even though sometimes, for a moment, they offer a sense of security.
I am on a journey, as we all are, a journey of discovery and change that began the moment we breathed our first breath and will only end when we’ve breathed our last. I am discovering who I am. I am someone who can ask for help and not feel as though I’ve admitted to failure in doing so. I am someone who sheds tears that must be shed without feeling weak. I am someone who cannot do it all alone. I am someone who knows more than she once did, someone who looks forward to what the future may hold instead of fearing it or letting the past dictate where it might lead.
I am someone . . . simply me.
As George Eliot once said, It is never too late to become what you might have been.
Crystal R. Cook