A while ago I took one of those personality quizzes that promises to sum up your entire internal character at the end of ten questions, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it did, in fact, seem to know me. Has that ever happened to you? I feel like I enter into those the same way I play 20 questions, with the sole intent of stumping.
I thought I was more complicated, I guess.
What I found to be especially interesting in my 5 point wrap up, was the observation: “Has a strong desire to be known.”
It was as perplexing as it was accurate. You are right, strange internet personality breaker downer, I do have a strong desire to be known. Only, I hadn’t realized it was a personality trait as much as it was an inherent human emotion.
Don’t we all have this desire?
It can’t just be me.
But when I asked my spirit sister how she felt about baring her heart to the world, she inhaled sharper than a brand new knife blade. Apparently, where one would feel stifled should their hearts not be allowed to bleed openly and audaciously, another would feel exposed in the same situation.
Yet, I wasn’t willing to accept that answer. Because even if it’s easier for one, harder for another, don’t we all need to feel connected to someone? Don’t we all long for someplace to belong? Aren’t we all searching for the labels in this world that would settle our minds and satisfy our persistent query of “where do I fit in?”
Or is it just me?
I believe that it’s all women, if not all people. I believe there are some among us who share our truths as easily as we share our disdain for doing the dishes, and others who guard their hearts the way a lioness looks after her young; but that underneath it all-the TMI or the armor-we are all women searching for a tribe.
Here’s where I think we mess it up: we pick up the wrong labels and squeeze into the wrong groups, and end up feeling like a hypocrite, a fraud, or in the end, rejected.
An example I am certain anyone can understand: moms. Moms draw lines. We have systematically constructed sandboxes of types of parenting behavior, ready and willing to use any means necessary to keep like with like and push different out. Because of this, because of the cultural norm of defining ourselves based on whether or not we would be caught dead serving kraft macaroni and cheese to our children (everyone knows velveeta shells in cheese is more delicious, duh), or if we nursed our babies until they were headed off to kindergarten, or what we do for a living and where we do it…mothers have been coerced into accepting identities whether or not they fit.
And if they don’t, they’re the outcasts. The misfits. The outsiders.
Can I encourage you that that is exactly where we are meant to be? Different! Unique! Wonderfully and perfectly weird!
I’m begging that the sharp corners of every box designed to confine a specific type of person, be bent, softened, and stretched to encircle a whole people. Or better yet, completely dissolved so that there is no box, no circle, no lines, no in or outs.
How do we do that? By allowing ourselves to be known.
Not known as in vegan or not. Not known as in working mom or stay at home mom. Known as in, here are my mistakes, here is my shame, here is where the enemy has been feeding me lies and I’ve been gobbling them up and holding them in, here is the corner of my room that I purposely angled out of my selfie, here is the pimple that I gooped cover up on, here is my toddler whose tantrums make me cry as often as she does, here is my marriage that feels like it’s crumbling, here is the mask I’ve been hiding behind, here is the blame I’ve been casting on others, here is the personality I’ve been pretending to embody…
Here is what I believe will make you not want to be in my life…
The walls we build to keep ourselves safe, keep others out. The comfort zone we live in, to avoid the risk of rejection or failure, allows the devil to live comfortably in our zone.
I believe women are tired, exhausted by who they should be. I believe the cloak of fitting in to a particular group is heavy and dark. I believe that women are simultaneously afraid of not belonging and desperate to be known for real. Not just to relate to another based on a love of shopping, but to be accepted by another despite the fact that things are bought in an attempt to fill a hole left void by an unfulfilling marriage. Not only to connect through the shared enjoyment of working out, but to be loved through the secret struggle with anorexia and body dysmorphia.
I am desperate to be known because I crave knowing that someone else is as desperate to be known in all of their messy truths. When one of us steps forward and bares her soul, she empowers someone else to do the same-I am desperate for that.
And that cannot just be me.
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