Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who do I think I am?

So I've been talking about fear and how I've let it hold me back.  What I'm slowly beginning to realize is just how much of who I think I am has been shaped, in some way, by fear.  The way I dress, the decisions I make for myself and my girls, the ways I spend my time.  The people I spend my time with.  All of those things are determined by my fear of not fitting in or living up to expectations or disappointing people I love.  Or being thought strange by people who's opinion I couldn't care less about.

I have an image of myself.  That image represents who I think I am.  And when I want to do something, I consider that image and try to figure out whether someone like "her" would do something like "that."  Would she wear colorful clothes that show some cleavage?  Would she wear clothes that show off her curves?  That might attract attention?  Or would she wear loose fitting clothes that hide the figure she doesn't think is good enough to show off?  Would she go out with the smart, cute, funny, interesting guy who gives her butterflies but happens to be quite a bit younger than her?  Or would she stick with the safe guy who looks good on paper, who would please her family, but bores her to tears?  Would she get the tattoo she's wanted for years or does she decide not to because her teenage daughter thinks it's weird for a mom to get a tattoo?

Like a lot of people, as I was growing up, I conformed to other people's expectations of me. It was like someone built a box of expectations and I jumped right in and stayed there too long.  So long, in fact, that I forgot who I really am.  Living an unauthentic life is painful.  And exhausting.  It's easier to just accept it and adapt.  And somewhere along the way I started thinking that the life other people wanted for me was the life I wanted for myself.  It was easier that way.

Lately I've been thinking about The Matrix when Neo first meets with Morpheus.  And Morpheus offers him a choice:  "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."  Or, in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy sees that the Wizard is just a man hiding behind a curtain.  I took the red pill.  I see Wonderland.  I know that there's no big, scary Wizard of Oz that we have to obey.  I'm out of the box and there's no going back.

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