“Could you let down your hair, be transparent for a while? Just a little while?”
Whenever we walk into new situations, there usually seems to be a certain demeanor we try to present to those around us. This demeanor might be one of strength, hope, suspicion, or fear. More often than not, I present a demeanor of confidence. Depending on the group I am with, this demeanor can come off as rude or, on the other hand, as welcoming. Either way, it’s still a mask I try to present to the world around me.
“Honesty is a hard attribute to find when we all want to seem like we’ve got it all figured out.
Well, let me be the first to say that I don’t have a clue.
I don’t have all the answers. Ain’t gonna pretend like I do.”
This shell of strength and confidence I’ve developed started to crack last year because I was finally willing to admit something my dad had pointed out to me: I’m afraid.
As we grow and encounter various life stages, the expectation of knowing where you are going becomes heavier. In my life, a lot of people may feel I have thrown caution to the wind because, rather than getting a job directly after graduating, I chose to do a year of service work. Coming back from that year helped me realize a lot of things. Most of those things were professional, but I also realized how much I needed time to just be. I needed time to process the question of, “Now what?” At graduation time, I couldn’t answer the question of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, nor did I want to. My skills and dreams are such a mish-mash of emotion and desire, it’s hard for me to see myself fitting in what I envision as a traditional career path. I don’t completely understand what it looks like to support myself and live in one location for years on end. I can’t imagine being tied down to a job that isn’t fulfilling or satisfying in any way. Yet, the world seems like a song on repeat, saying that jobs are rough, some dreams may never be reached, and the grass may not be greener on the other side.
“Well, I haven’t memorized all of the cute things to say, but I’m working on it.
If I quote all the lines off the top of my head, would you believe that I fully understand all these things I’ve read?”
So, yes, I am afraid. I’m afraid I won’t accomplish the personal goals I have set for myself. I’m afraid I’ll never work for the company I have looked up to for so many years. I’m afraid to let go of my confidence in exchange for feeling like another number in a lonely world.
Be that as it may, every time I fully admit and accept the powerlessness that I feel, I love myself more for who I was and who I am becoming. I’ve slowly come to realize that what I thought of as just a mask or shell may also be a part of me that has been there from the beginning. It was born out of who I believe I am innately meant to be. I’m not necessarily confident in my actions, skills, or knowledge (yet), but no one can take away my journey of growth or who I have become along the way.
“Well, I haven’t got it all figured out quite yet,
But even if it takes my whole life to get to where I need to be,
And if I should fall to the bottom of the end, I’ll be one step back to you.”
It’s easy for so many people, myself included, to get lost in the expectations placed upon us by ourselves and those around us. They could be expectations to follow the status quo, or to defy what has been planned for you. My choices have been influenced by a little bit of both. Where I used to conform to a decision made by those I was surrounded by, I am now trying to affirm the reality of not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow—the hardest part of which may be finding ways to love myself and those around me in spite of my uncertainty and fear.
I have been taught and loved so well, and perhaps some of my confidence comes from the certainty of wanting to give that back to others. I hope that as you continue on your journey, you can learn to see how beautiful you are, even in your moments of indecision and confusion.
“I’m tryin’ to find my way. Oh, I’m tryin’ to find my way,
Tryin’ to find my way.”
—Christina, TWLOHA Spring 2014 Intern