One of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to learn was my own value in life. For a very long time, I used to think what I see in the mirror is what others see when they look at me. On a subconscious level I somehow believed those around me can smell my emotions and react to that, as if I was some open book. I lied and behaved as if others knew I was lying, I laughed and expected others to know I was happy, I bruised my knuckles on walls in mute desperation and expected a comforting hand on my shoulder to let me know I was going to be all right. Only none of that ever happened.
There are ways to know when an amateur lies – his or her behavior changes. Their body language changes. Introverts, like me, become their image – hunched back, eyes on the tip of our shoes, gliding by the walls as if we avoid everything and everyone, all this because we can’t really see ourselves through the eyes of our peers. We avoid confrontations, we avoid social interactions, we avoid even “accidental” social bumps, because we feel like frauds. It won’t matter how many achievements we have or what we’ve accomplished so far, because we have one bloody big fear to overcome: the fear we’re worthless and we’re just inches away from being publicly ousted. Took me decades to even identify this one, it’s that bad. You see, everything I’ve done well, every barrier I managed to break through, I’ve used to think it was just a lucky break. I’ve seen others believe in god’s grace, in lucky charms and favorable star alignments, but for me it was just luck. Coincidence. Only it wasn’t.
I read a lot. I think a lot. I’ve seen shit hit the fan a few times in my life, and after that passed I’ve managed to learn something – I can’t say anything is good or bad, or that the consequences of the perfect shitstorm are good or bad, since many lucky breaks turned out to be disasters in the making and many moments of terrifying fear that looked like they could be the end of me turned out to be the best helpers ever. I managed to learn this, though: you can’t tell if something’s good or bad unless you’re looking back at it after many years have passed. You know why? It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about what you choose to do with it. Things change, shit happens, but if you’re not giving up and keep asking yourself what you can do in this scenario, you’re almost always going to end up better than you used to be. I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I chose to never give up. If that’s out of the question, the next choice will be about how to react, how to ride the wave. It’s good if you’re an extrovert, it helps big time. Only I wasn’t.
There was a rather close call for me a few years back, and that was really the wake up call I needed. It’s ok to be an introvert, actually. It’s ok to not like people, well, most of them anyway. Because the people who actually care about you can be counted on the fingers of your hands. Or one of your hands. You see yourself in the mirror but instead of looking at the surface, you look deeper. Outside this circle of friends or family, nobody else does that. They have their own reflection to think about. They see what they want to see, they see through a filter that blocks out things – that filter is what we all use, it’s made of beliefs, assumptions, ideas and principles. They think feminism means the superiority of women. They use the latest gadgets and get confused when they’re asked why they’re using them. They print facebook accounts or linkedin links on their business cards and can’t understand why others don’t use those. They think everybody else is just like them. Only they aren’t.
You can’t really tell people about being different, they can’t process it. It’s like when a friend of mine was pursuing this very hot girl who told him, at one time, she was a lesbian. He was confused, she liked girls? So did he.. So what was the problem? Things get downright dirty when economics is involved. You can’t tell people depending on welfare to survive to get jobs. You can’t cut welfare unless it’s a rebellion you’re after. Life isn’t fair. The good thing in all this is, outside of those involved in your life, nobody sees the real you. You can be black, white, green, ugly as hell, but still on the way to happiness. Unless you choose somebody else’s life, that is. This was the hardest decision of my life. This was the big lesson. I have to be myself, but not the self you read in the magazines. I have a few things I can’t change – my life so far, my choices so far, my genes and my DNA. Everything else, I can change. I can choose. I’m expected to choose.
Defend your choices and nobody will care about how you appear. Defend your identity and they’ll only care about what you can do for them. Be strong and nobody will question that. Choose your life and don’t worry about what others think of your choice, your friends will understand and support you and if they don’t, they aren’t really your friends and you shouldn’t care what they think anyway.