The fear of being real is very real. Why bother being someone when you think that you are not good enough for others? Being fake is also scary – what if they eventually strip away the veneer and figure out that you may not be all that they’ve believed you were?
This fear goes deeper than reluctance to reveal beliefs and ideologies, gender identity, sexual orientation, intelligence or education level to a critical audience. This fear is older – ancient – cutting at the core of whether or not you value who you are. And, who are you, anyway?
We often hear that if we love ourselves, we will attract people who love us for who we are. The reality is that we cross paths with all kinds of people, even if we love ourselves through and through.
It may be more accurate to say that if we love ourselves, we attract and keep relationships where we are loved, while appropriately distancing ourselves from those who hurt us. But even this feels incomplete…. I can name a number of people who loved and cared for me when I completely hated myself, and feel gratitude for these kind souls then and now. Some people come in and try to teach us that we are lovable and that love is possible. So, who does one really need to be to be loved?
We don’t really know who we are until other people come along and show us how we feel about ourselves through our relationships. They mirror back to us all our antics and machinations, and reflect any and all heartfelt movements. We see, we react, and we boil inside when we know that we have allowed ourselves to be false.
At first, relationships mostly teach us who we are not. With every conflict and confrontation with another, we learn when we’ve had enough pretending. With every accolade for playing to an audience, we feel more and more exploited for forgetting our truth. Every time we are ignored or cast aside, we feel our insides twist and the temptation to be whatever we need to successfully pull in relationships – we begin to notice those moments when we feel the need to pose. We don’t like to be lonely, and many also don’t like feeling fake.
Not knowing who we are feels like we are unpredictable, uncontrollable – and that is scary. There is so much uncertainty about doing the right thing to keep our relationships and avoid being lonely. Thus, many people are not interested in who they are – and only care to be the bare minimum to get what they want. And, if they don’t get what they want unless they behave a certain way, they change until they see results. They morph to match expectations rather than being real, and many are good with this setup. However, others will suffer under the industrial-scale pressures of moulding themselves to conform – what to do then?
Feeling that we fall short is not a new thing. While you may interpret this feeling as a negative, that is only an interpretation. What if, instead, you interpret every rejection, dismissal, or act of violenece as a question What am I not willing to do/be to get love? Then the beat changes…. Just asking the question can lead to new words and behaviors, which cast aside the things you are not. You can’t and don’t change who you really are. You just let go of the things you are not. This requires strength, courage, and the wilingness to explore. It is hard work in the beginning, but does get easier.
Perhaps the story of the Promethean gift of fire was passed down to us as a reminder that we are a kind of fire. Eventually, all that is false in us will burn to ashes, and the truth will rise out of these ashes to be seen. Old memories are healed when we allow ourselves to relive them consciously – as long as it takes to let them go, sitting in a pool of tears and tissues. The fire of the heart burns away old, impacted pain and allows us to be fearless with regards to being who we are.
Ironically, we fear being truly loved because that would mean opening ourselves up. This is not emotional love that needs and clings and uses others for self-validation. If we search ourselves, we may learn that we don’t want more attachment games, and we want something more real. In its pure form, love is an embrace of yourself and the world as pure awareness. It is confidence and self-knowledge. It is vulnerability that can only be perceived as strength. To become this love, we must resist trying to protect ourselves from our own fire.
The journey to truth is a winding path – far from a straight line for most of us. Past hurts cling to the fibers of our being, and we get used to these thorns. They are pain, but we learn how to numb discomfort with overstimulating our days with social interactions, internet crawling, gaming, food, and even drugs of all sorts. Because we have lived, we carry much pain that is unfelt and unknown, but it must be known, released, and set ablaze.
Life is the ancient ritual that frees us, but only if we allow it. This process feels scary because it is a journey into the unknown. However, many have made this journey and live a life that is authentic. Do such people attract all kinds of people? Sure, and they handle situations by being true. Do such people have partners? Some do, and some don’t – it is a choice. Happy people are always beautiful and attractive to others. Are such people free of all pain? Not necessarily, but they know that they are not their pain. Are there risks in being real? Always – after all, we live in a world with so many different people. Being real does require some street-smarts 😀 But, feeling free requires absolutely nothing except just being.
***Please share your thoughts and feelings. I will try to respond.***