The image below hit me as I was reading it.
My definition of success is loving yourself, believing in yourself, and taking actions to get yourself to your passion and purpose. I never thought I would find such a raw source of beauty, happiness, and purpose inside myself. I have often relied on others for acceptance, guidance, and love. This was in absence of any or all of those in myself. I persevered, I learned, I dealt, and I hid from everyone my true self. One of my close friends once said to me, “I’ve known you for years, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of who you are.” I took it as a compliment.
There is a relentless doubt to let yourself be known when you have hidden your true self for so long. It is safe to be hidden. There is no threat of bullying, no torment, no expectation of others (in regard to yourself), and no disappointment by your peers because you smile, do your work, and move on. All of the preceding have to do with your expectations of others being there for you. The true glimpses they get from you, if any, are fleeting. And you survive.
I was not happy. I was insulated. I was in a hamster wheel, of my own creation, and I was doing what I spent the last 3 years doing. I thought I would spend the rest of my life doing it.
I unexpectedly found someone that believed in me, and more importantly, I LET them, gradually. At the beginning, I had my usual coyness, and sarcastic deflection. To their credit, they persisted, and to mine so did I, with questions. It wasn’t a sudden reveal; it was a gradual awakening. I slowly loosened my clutch on my heart and soul, and let myself out in tiny glimpses. I grew to believe I was worth it, I could talk to people, I could help people and actually be noticed for doing so without it being narcissistic.
Then I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, those closest to me should know the “real” me. I wasn’t coy, I didn’t sarcastically deflect, and I listened to why they believed in me. The reinforced concrete in front on my heart and soul started to erode away, and constant personal growth that allowed it to flourish into a garden. I started to change, and be vulnerable to let people in, little by little.
I wasn’t crippled by the vulnerability, which has always been my inherent fear. I was free. Free of the chains I had put on myself to be perfect and to uphold a standard that was not only unrealistic, but also quite damaging. The barrier was gone, and let my friends and family in, even if it’s just a little at a time.