We go through life seeking to be understood, slowly shedding each layer of protection as we grow bolder in our journey towards finding that elusive state of comfort between the fire that rages within, and the composure expressed without. It’s a dance for two often mimicked by one, but the band continues to play, whether you have a partner or not. The show must go on. But in all your shedding and expressing there is a small space that you protect fiercely. A space so well hidden that only the most deliberate of efforts coupled with the most determined of insights is able to unlock. It is that little treasure that defines the gravity of being who we are.
But, like gravity, not everything we attract is attractive, nor good for us. Space junk and stray rocks pound us at times and leave defining scars to add to the unique tale of who we are. The uniqueness of our tale is not enough to sustain our desire to be unique, to stand out from the crowd. Instead, uniqueness comes with the threat of isolation, and so we set out in search of one similarly damaged or suitably seasoned. It’s an irony that serves us well. The brave struggle to define a space that adds to the collage of this world, while seeking the embrace of one who understands and appreciates the cost of such a colourful contribution. We were built to connect.
For some that connection is realised in the form of a kindred spirit, or a soulmate. For most, it is the mere idea of the same that gives them enough reason to abandon the search, believing that the familiarity they may have found is in fact the companionship that they sought. Anything more than a compromised pleasure demands a commitment of transparency that most are incapable of. Not from lack of ability but from pure fear. A fear so great that the mere contemplation of such abandon leaves them paralysed with even more fear.
An abandon of who we are in favour of who we are willing to present to the world has curtailed the dreams of many. The humiliation we suffer at the hands of our own bitter ridicule creates that hoard of pain that we protect so fiercely and often hide so well that we forget that it’s there. The learned behaviours that protect it remain ingrained in our being always ready to be summoned, but the purpose of such defenses is easily forgotten, until we eventually defend on instinct and attack blindly anyone that strikes close to the core that we have chosen to define who we are. But we have forgotten what lies within, and so we loiter through this world pretending to be resolute and principled in our fight for the oppressed or the noble cause of preservation knowing that it resonates with us in some way but never really knowing why. And in this way we find ourselves focused on living a life aimed at leaving a legacy rather than being understood.
I believe that among the great death bed regrets will be the realisation that we never truly showed the world who we are. It will be a moment of angst that will tear at that core that we hid so well, but even then, with eyes firmly fixed on the inevitable, fear will prevent many from being discovered. The ridicule we heaped on ourselves for what should have been bumps in the road turned them into unassailable mountains and pits of quicksand. Then we associated that ridicule with the mockery of others. To deflect attention away from our own shame we shamed another instead. It was always better to expose our flaws in others so that they would not get a chance to witness the same flaw in us. It’s a flawless strategy, except for the one paying attention.
The one that is honest with themselves will see their flaws echoed in others, and rather than use it as a point of ridicule and deflection, they draw on it to understand and support. Reverse engineering our shame and disappointment makes us powerful, while neglecting it makes us weak. The gravity of who we are is not defined by the shame we hide within. We can never be defined by that which remains hidden. So in the absence of that full disclosure we remain undiscovered, while ensuring that the image we sell of ourselves is all that will be embraced by those around us. It is unsurprising then that even the boldest embrace often doesn’t fill the void. How can it fill the void when it isn’t allowed to reach it?
No one will ever know the true gravity of being you. At times, that may be a comfort to you, but when it matters most it will leave you wanting, unfulfilled, and bitter, ailing from unexplained diseases that you’ll dismiss as being a natural end to a difficult life, because there is no shortage of others like you that will seek to validate your weakness. You will draw a superficial comfort from that, but deep inside, in that niche where you stashed your shame, you will feel the roots of your fear take hold one last time as you struggle to take in the air that you took for granted all your life. The gravity of being you will only weigh you down if you choose to be defined by the fickle expectations of those around you. If you were not living up to the expectations of others, you would never have reason to ridicule yourself in the face of their mockery.