overcoming the fear of being myself
In the not-so-distant past, I was very afraid of meeting people. It took multiple synchronistic events plus persistence from @andycroll for me to agree to my first meetup with a friend from cyberspace.
It has been three years. Only three years, I would say. I am still an introvert, I am still fearful of public speaking, crowds still drain me, I still seek a corner to hide in when I go to events, but I am no longer afraid of meeting people.
It was really hard in the beginning, I would stutter, be really unsure of myself, how I look, how I speak, how I gave my answers, whether I sounded stupid, whether if I had met people’s expectations.
If you have been a common friend or twitter follower of @skinnylatte and me, you may have come across our online banter which makes us sound like we’re totally at ease with each other. Or that we’re flirting with each other. It depends how well you know each of us. 😉
However, you should have seen how awkward we were when we first had coffee. Not her, because she’s used to this shit by then. Though it really helped that there was an inexplicable thread of familarity which existed between us from the second time we met. Not the first, not sure why, but by the second time I felt like we have had been friends forever.
By the time I met people like @jasonong, I was recounting my life to him like nobody’s business. Our first conversation lasted more than five hours in one sitting, I swear.
It took me probably a hundred meetings in between, but I am used to this now. I no longer feel awkward meeting someone I barely know, I am comfortable telling my story, I am equally comfortable listening to your story.
But if you had asked me three years ago if I had envisioned myself this way – I would have secretly, passive agressively, laughed in your face.
Lately, I have been ruminating over myself, wondering how much of myself I can truly be. I seem to go backwards and forward, swinging left and right, one moment I am proud to be my quirky self, the next split second I am wondering if I am an embarrasment to myself.
That is the problem. Why should I even think of myself as an embarassment? Why should I apologise that I am really not like anyone of you?
I typically have an opinion and I shouldn’t be sorry for it. But I had been consistently apologising when I try to speak my mind. It is like I am commiting a crime because either I have a different perspective from you, or I have a different way of doing things from you. I keep apologising for my unique differences as a human being. That sounds ridiculous in writing but not so ridiculous when we consider how much we, as a human race try not to rock the boat, especially with social groups.
I am afraid of sticking out like a sore thumb.
I am afraid you’ll laugh at my opinion.
I am afraid you’ll think less of me if I tell you honestly how I really feel about something.
I am afraid you’ll mock at me if I tell you I believe in reincarnation and astrology.
I am afraid you’ll judge my capabilities if I tell you I had suffered from clinical dysthemia.
I am afraid of what you’ll think if I tell you I really believe in rainbows and unicorns.
But yesterday, triggered by a chain of synchronistic events, I came to a conclusion – I really do not want to pretend to be someone I am not. Why should I hide myself so much? Why should I feel sorry for being myself?
Who, has the power to decide I am less of a human being than you?
Nobody but myself.
I don’t want to live in a world whereby I am constantly afraid to be myself – if I have to give up on a world which has certain criteria whether it will certify you as a human being, I would.
I’m tired of constantly seeking validation. I didn’t even want to validate myself. In all honesty, I have been the one thinking less of myself.
I think life is incredibly short. I can’t imagine going on for the next 3, 5, 10, 50 years trying to cover up parts of myself.
I have had moments of lucid joy before and they all have some things in common. These are moments when I was not afraid to be myself and when I simply surrender to the wonders of the universe. Moments when I am no longer afraid of how people think or react. Or when I allow myself to fall and hurt myself.
I am the happiest when I have faith, in both myself and in people. I am at my best when I channel my inner self and strength to freely create.
Thirty-one years of life, I have never looked back at one moment and thought to myself – gee I shouldn’t have been so stupid and foolish. In fact I think I am always rewarded when I am foolish.
What is the big deal about being embarassed anyway? Nobody dies from embarassment. In the end we just want to satisfy our egos.
I’ll gladly give up my ego in exchange for being myself.
When I had my first surfing wipeout I was truly scared. Nth time later, I simply allowed myself to let go and enjoy the experience. I know I will surface if I simply had faith.
When I had my first job interview more than a decade I was really nervous. Nth job interviews later + the inner knowing that I don’t need anyone to give me a job, I wanted them to want to work with me, there is a difference – my last few interviews were simply storytelling sessions.
It is always scary at the beginning. There is always loss and pain to take. But it is like, do you want to go through a painful surgery and get rid of a tumor once and for all, or do you want to slowly disintegrate and die? New plants can only grow if you pull out the weeds.
It is okay if people think that I am crazy. It is not okay if I am not comfortable with my own insanity. I can deal with losing people because they think less of me, that’s fine, I don’t think I want them around anyway. I cannot deal with myself thinking less of myself.
I have always believed if I am truly earnest and sincere in being myself and what I do, things will naturally fall into place for me. Each time I see a cliff in front of me, I hem and haw for a while but I have always chosen to jump. Each time I have discovered I am capable of growing much larger wings.
I am working towards a world which values empathy and authenticity. I need to demonstrate those values to myself first. When I made that realization, though it has waxed and waned, I have felt a sense of inner peace I haven’t felt for a long, long time.
It will just be like making a new habit. It will be difficult at first, I may forget and I may fail a few times, I may swing back and forth, but eventually it will simply be a natural extension of me.
If I come to you one day in panic about being myself, do me a favour and point me to my own blog post, thank you. 😉