Saturday, October 31, 2009
Letting Me Be Myself
How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. – Gabrielle Bonheur 'Coco' ChanelIf we are told something again and again, it can become true. It can seep into our subconscious and take hold there as an indisputable fact. It doesn't even matter if we know it's not true. I was bullied in high school by people who were close to me: not physical violence just harsh, twisted whispers. I heard them so often I took them to heart. Repetition in advertising and political propaganda works the same way. Even if we see through the manipulative messages, it's hard not to be affected by them. Inventions and interpretations become fact, as immutable as the sun rising in the east. I once believed a whole gamut of 'truths' about myself, most of them instilled in me by my family from childhood. Some were good, some weren't. As I grew up and became an adult, I realised there were no such truths. I still struggle to rid myself of some of them. People often cite their family as a reason for not pursuing their dreams. If we turn our back on our families, if we reject their comments and criticisms we risk being rejected ourselves. It's hard to confront – let alone argue with – people whom we love and who have nurtured us. It's even harder to comprehend that they don't always have our best interests at heart but rather their own. Too often, what we are told by our parents, siblings and closest friends – again and again – becomes what we tell ourselves. Over time, it also becomes the way others define us and how we define ourselves. Re-defining oneself can be hard. In my case, it felt impossible. In the end, it was utterly liberating. Living only on my own terms turned my world upside down. The woeful, discouraging, critical voices continued to harp on – even louder when I started to ignore them completely – but they were countered by an intoxicating rush of happiness and freedom, a real sense that I could do and be anything.The relief was absolute.