I find it funny that all my life I have been given the sage advice to “be myself.” It makes sense. Except… Society says I am not thin enough, too loud, too soft, too sensitive, too much butt, not enough boobs, my hair isn’t the right color, I dyed it wrong, my love of books should be more cultivated, I read too much serious stuff, my clothes don’t fit tight enough, I shouldn’t wear that, my make-up is wrong, my eyeliner isn’t perfect, and my sheets don’t match the color scheme of the bedroom… Wow!
I can’t even be myself with my therapist. I went to my appointments yesterday dressed in yoga clothes (I was going to go to a class after all of my appointments–it didn’t happen) and I felt disgusting. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough to be the best patient in the world. I have avoided telling him things because it is too difficult and I am worried about whether or not my current struggle makes me a statistical failure.
I majored in Psychology and English in college. I wanted to be a health journalist. I even got a Masters in Public Health. I know about statistics. It is my fear that I will be just a statistic of mental illness. I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and wanted to be that person with problems that was outside the scope of normal failings and survive mental illness.
I nearly died two years ago from anorexia. I was at the point that I was readying myself and my family for my death. The fact that I survived puts me in an outlier category. I definitely have put in more than 10,000 hours of recovery time and pushing myself to be well.
However, the one thing that I have yet to figure out is how to “be myself.” It sounds so wonderful. The genie in Aladdin just buzzes around Aladdin’s head as a bee, encouraging him to “Beee yourssself.” Even Aladdin dismissed the idea. He was trying to woo a princess and he was a mere “street rat.” We are all street rats. We are all wooing society that judges us on how many horses and peacocks we have in our entourage.
I have a beat up SUV full of used books and a dog that wants to be carried because he is terrified of other people. My entourage is more like a mobile yard sale with a “please help me” sign than a signal of strength and endurance in modern society.
I schlepp through each day, hoping that something will happen that will make me know who I am and what it means to “be myself.” I have learned from school and jobs that I am too much trouble and not enough happiness, a little too much crazy and not enough of a worthwhile person.
No one has been able to tear these thoughts from my mind. I view myself as a worthless, pent-up, and dismal person. I am not the fun one (although I am good at making jokes), or the one to call on a bad day (I might be unable to help because of my own bad days). I had a friend avoid telling me she got married because I was going through a rough time. I never felt like a more worthless and despotic emotional friend than in that moment.
“Be myself.” The world consistently puts us down and tells us that we are not good enough, but tells us in the next breath that true freedom comes from being ourselves. Thanks, world.
If we were to truly sit down and ponder our good qualities, not naysaying them with others’ viewpoints, then maybe… just maybe… we could accept who we are and be ourselves. We are amazing, just as we are. How do we see that though when the world jumps down our throats with ideas as to how to apply eyeliner and eyeshadow so your eyes pop, but you can also avoid running make-up if you cry? Wait. No crying.
I was told to embrace myself. I am still figuring me out. All I know is that I want to write and that I love to be brutally honest. Also, I love really serious and dark books. I am a serious and dark person. I enjoy a laugh, but I really am a sensitive person who cries a LOT. And that’s okay. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be serious. It’s okay to watch depressing movies over and over again, following them with a comedic stand-up routine. It’s okay.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you wear the right clothes, make-up, read the perfect books, can talk about the politics of the day, knew whether or not the Kardashians wore magenta to their cousin’s best friend’s destination wedding, or if your sheets match the decor in your bedroom… What matters is how satisfied you are with your life and if you can sleep in those sheets without waking up at 2 am to make a run to Wal-Mart to redecorate your entire room.
Life is hard enough without trying to placate photoshopped magazines and pinterest pages. Try to be honest with who you are and try to make peace with the way that God made you. He doesn’t make mistakes. Your mistake is thinking that He did.