You think you know me after reading this blog for years, and you're probably right. There's a lot more about myself you might see in my words than I can in the mirror... but lately I've been having to learn that as often as people tell you not to defend who you are, it will take them less than a second to turn around and make you do just that.
Luckily, I've been on a new path of self-discovery. Over three years ago, I figured out who I was. Now, I'm figuring out not only how to deepen that person, but how to live as that person in a world that doesn't really want individuality, no matter how many times it says it does.
I've talked about being unapologetically you, but I forgot that constantly saying sorry isn't the only way you do yourself a disservice. Always being angry and offended because you have to defend who you are every day is another way to quickly squash your self-esteem and progress.
Since I'm trying with all my tiny might to stop letting people give me shit for being who I am, let me remind you of exactly what people are telling me to hide from the world.
I am observant. This is often confused with being "ultra sensitive," but I suppose that's the price I have to pay for always noticing the small things. I can sense people's moods, hear changes in their voices, know what they really mean and try to play off as a joke, and see the glances they exchange. For a long time, I thought I was being an asshole and just projecting my wild imagination on people. However, I recently realized that people simply don't like to get caught. They like to be able to get away with shifty behavior. Most people live their lives by being secret assholes; some are even 007-level bastards... so when I call them out on their behavior, they turn the tables on me for diversion. It's okay. I get it now!
I have high expectations. There's some bullshit, pink, curly-cued meme floating around the Internet about "not being high maintenance, just having high expectations..." but the two are not interchangeable in any way, so it's when the latter occurs that I have to defend my expectations. But hey, these things should honestly be common practice – I'm just not afraid to continually say so: I expect people to treat other people kindly; I expect people not be racist/sexist/etc. assholes because it's the incorrect reaction to other humans; I expect people to understand one another as being mere mortals with many flaws; I expect other people to put in as much as I do, and to ease up when one of us can't. I expect a lot, but I also believe in the ability of everyone to meet those expectations.
I am vulnerable. I have always chosen my vulnerability, though I've often had to defend that choice. I believe in being open, in saying sorry, in crying, in letting people in. I choose all of that because it makes me stronger than everyone else. I have walls upon walls of steel-like strength from all those times people took advantage of my vulnerability, but if I'm crying, I often have to defend those tears like they are some sign of weakness. I wish people knew the courage it takes to be an open nerve, but it's yet another thing unworthy of defense funds.
I am different. I have invisible disabilities. I care so, so much about everything and everyone because I have a heart full of compassion. I am able to do a lot of stuff other people cannot, but also limited in many other "everyday" ways. I love things most people deem unimportant. I need time, love, and a home, but not a house. I need loyalty in a way that can drive most people away... and even if it's all weird or out of place to others, it's what lies within me. All of the big and little things that piece together my odd little puzzle should never be put up for negotiation, so I'm tired of finding myself in the midst of a battle for whether there is a "rightness" in being me.
There it is, dudes and dudettes. I know the project of "myself" will always be an evolving, living, breathing thing, but even on the days when my features become inconvenient, I couldn't and wouldn't have it any other way. And just like I said I would stop saying sorry so much, I'm going to stop defending just being Rachel as well. I will change as we all do with time, but it will never be at the suggestion from an outsider that who I am inside just isn't good enough.
Hoping everyone finds the courage to let go of the anger and give into the joy of just being yourself. I know it'll take some time for me, but I also know I can do it.
P.S. If you've been missing me, I blog (anonymously) on the regular about my new job. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the link!