“Do you feel like you can be fully yourself?”, the shrink asked me this week. “No,” I said shaking my head. I’ve tried to think back since that conversation when I did feel like I was really myself, and I couldn’t come up with an answer.
Sure, there are friends where I can be myself. Where I can say the wrong things, and we just laugh, where I can make blond comments or make a sarcastic remark, and it’s all ok. Friends that I can go on adventures with, go climbing and cook meals together.
But am I fully myself? No. I constantly feel like I’m holding back. Watching what I should say or should do. Afraid to jump out, stand out and be ‘abnormal.’ It’s a fear that’s deeply rooted in my core after years of not fitting in and belonging.
Part of me rebelled against this which and I refused to wear anything fashionable when I was a teenager. It resulted in a lot of black, got and skater clothing — something that I still prefer to this day.
But I think the real shift came when I entered the workforce. See, in school, you’re expected to become one of the pack, but here are a lot of groups you can ‘belong’ to and there’s always some group where you sort of belong to. But when you get a ‘grown-up job,’ you’re suddenly expected to behave like everyone else.
We say we embrace and love diversity. That we love that everyone is different. And to some extent that is true, as long as the people close to use behave in the way we expect them to behave: normal.
So when the shrink asked me if I feel like I can be myself, I said no. Because being yourself comes with a dose of self-confidence I don’t yet have. But I hope that I will find it soon. I hope you all do. Because we don’t need more normal people. We need more people who are themselves without apology. Because those people will make the world a better, more beautiful place.