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the vulnerable truth

October 16, 2019 2 comments

I’ve often been labeled as too much for a variety of reasons. I’m too loud, sometimes. I have too many opinions. But mostly, I feel things right down to the marrow. It’s a blessing and a curse, because feelings are hard. (In truth, though, I think trying to mash feelings down is way harder; there’s a particular exhaustion in denying yourself, essentially. It leaves you constantly on the run.) There have been times where I’ve tried to be quieter, less, small. There have been times where I’ve tried to tamp down, well, everything.

Turns out, tiny hurricanes don’t really fit in a box. Something always gets broken. (It’s often me, but hey, I’m not dead yet.)

I’ve always had my own sense of timing. It’s generally not convenient. To start, I was born over three months early and, you know, almost died. Since then, I’m still incredibly me when it comes to when I do and say things. I’m unconventional, even if I’m weirdly traditional in some respects. As it is, I often hold things in until I absolutely can’t, and it all tumbles out in a heap. It’s never pretty, but the honest things about life rarely are.

Words, I’ve noticed, can be dangerous. Once said, you can’t reel them back in. You can’t unravel them, you can’t undo. If you feel a thing, but don’t say it out loud—it’s a shadow of a thing; it has only a nebulous kind of power. But truth always finds its legs, even when we are trying to run away from it. We’ve all been guilty of that—trying to avoid the truth, like it’s a monster, a villain. Something easily ignored.

But you cannot hide from it forever. You cannot run from your own heart, either. It’s a persistent creature, and if you sit still for a moment, you can always hear it.

I’ve come to the realization, lately, that truth is often dependent on the angle of a story–the person telling it. I’ve been the villain before, the bad guy, the too much–but that’s someone else’s version of me. Is that reflection real? Yes, maybe. We’re never just one thing in this world; no one is flat, one dimensional, uncomplicated.

I know who I am, in all my mess. Few people see it. So many folks are content with bits and pieces, filling in the gaps along the way. And that’s not criticism; it’s human nature. Humans are always difficult, even in the best of circumstances.

I remember having a conversation a couple of years ago, where I told a person that I absolutely hated X. I listed the reasons why, expressed frustration. Five minutes later in the conversation, he said, “You really like X, huh?” And wheeeew, okay. That was really the end of that date. Listening is a deeply important skill. I know what it’s like to be truly listened to, and I won’t accept anything less than intense, open interest. Because listen with every fiber of my being; it’s so important to hear and see people as they are. Without it, you can’t really appreciate someone. See, the trick isn’t to always agree with someone or to conform to a smaller version of yourself. It’s to be exactly who you are and see who runs and stays–moreover, who appreciates you and your truth, even when it clashes with theirs.

Another conversation, a few months prior to that one, maybe even a year–someone who I thought saw me thoroughly and deeply remarked that I would do well in a city. He even went so far as to say I’d flourish. And it stopped me dead in my tracks, leaving me to tilt my head sideways. You see, I love cities. I think they’re amazing and great. NYC is one of my favorite places to visit. Montreal is eight different kinds of magical.

But I hate crowds. I get overwhelmed easily sometimes and just need nature and silence. I like my space. I have been spoiled by distance, throughout the years. So, while I can navigate a city, hail a cab like a champ, and enjoy being able to eat a million different kinds of food–cities aren’t for me.

But he thought they were. It suited the version of me he’d fashioned into his head, cobbled together from pieces of me and pieces of what he needed me to be. But that’s not who I am.

I know what it’s like to be seen and appreciated, just as I am. For all my intelligence, humor, chaotic mess, nervous flailings, and deep beliefs. My truths are often sideways. You’ll never find me using a jar of pasta sauce, but I’ll eat Kraft mac and cheese out of nostalgia. I know what it’s like to be knocked down by loss, and that may make me hold on to things tightly–but only when they matter. I hate fighting, and I never do it without a damn good reason. So, when I decide to fight, it means something. (I loathe conflict, so.)

At the end of the day, I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m not even tea. I’m coffee, which is basically rocket fuel–and never decaf, because that’s essentially burnt despair. I’m not really rational in certain instances, but I can fake it when I have to. I’m impulsive, but honest even when it makes me want to die. Or crawl under the dashboard.

I’ve never been very good at staying inside the lines, but life begins outside of our comfort zones. Life flourishes when we are brave.

And at the end of the day, I know I’m not too much–for those who see me as I am.

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