Just How Brave Are You?
“Be brave enough to be yourself.”
Someone commented that it is hard to do sometimes. It got me thinking. Shouldn’t that be the easiest part of our life? To simply be ourselves? Why would we waste the energy to be someone else or someone else’s image of what or who we should be? But I realized that in spite of my quasi-rebel attitude, I’ve fallen into this trap before.
As a child I wanted to be a veterinarian, but people said “You have to know someone to get into vet school. You shouldn’t waste your time.” Later I decided to be a professional artist and even considered being an art teacher. It had been so powerful in bringing healing into my life, but “How can you support a family on an artist or teacher’s salary?” After my suicide attempt in my early 20s, I was in an emotionally fragile state and ended up joining a church that, among other things, professed it could cure me of being gay, that it was, like an alcoholic with his booze, just a trial given to me by God. I bought it and lived the next 7+ years of my life trying to live that lie, even getting married, and then I awoke.
As a chaplain, many people have their expectations of me. I wear an earring and used to wear Crocs. I actually had a patient’s family decline future visits from me because “Chaplains don’t wear an earring and wear Crocs.” I have 7 tattooes (unless you count the 3 tats they gave me when I had radiation oncology treatments), but my patients and families can’t see those too easily. Being a minister and a parent, people automatically assume that I am (1) Christian (I’m Zen Buddhist) and that I’m (2) straight & married (neither are accurate).
Even though I’m much leaner than my former habitus, I’m still chubby. I’m embarrassed to take my shirt off because of my moobs and my panza. But that IS myself, isn’t it? Even with my extra weight, I’m more active than most people and have accomplished more physically than most people, but my man breasts & my double chin still bother me.
In a way I am being more of myself by undertaking this major adventure, and I hope to be more of myself as things go on. No, scratch that. I will be my authentic self.
What do you think? Why is it so hard to be our authentic selves? What holds you back? What do you plan on doing to live more like the real you?