Ever so often, when they looked at me, spoke about me, or to me, they likened me to a masterpiece; my beautiful soul and the person I was, “an absolute work of art,” they said. It was on one of my darker days that I mistakenly reflected on what this could imply, and I came to a crushing realisation. They were comparing me to expensive art. Art to be admired, revered and adored. But never to be acquired. The ones that would choose to take possession of this kind of wondrous creation would know exactly what it was worth, but would keep this knowledge and the creation itself hidden – so it could never be damaged, or coveted.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be someone’s intricate jigsaw, to be finished piece by painstaking piece. When the picture would be completed, there would be a sense of pride towards me. I would be proudly displayed, for their entire world to see, rather than framed away under lock and key.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be a lovingly knit jumper; the result of someone’s focused labour. The very fibre of my soul would weave seamlessly with theirs, blending moments and memories to wrap us in the warmth of the lives we shared.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. I wanted to be someone’s meticulous needlepoint. As much as they’d have to strain to get things just right, and as much as they could get pricked on occasion, they would persevere because they knew the end result was worth it. I wanted to be worth that effort.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. Unless it was to that soul that believed my perceived outward beauty was only enhanced by the love that overflowed from my soul to flood the lives of those around me.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece. Unless it was to the artist that understood why I existed, and loved me for it.
I didn’t want to be a masterpiece.
As I always do after a gap, I start this with an apology. I know it isn’t fair for me to not warn all you wonderful people about not writing and just disappear. But, the only explanation is that life got in the way. I was dealing with some personal troubles, and had a bit of writer’s block. But, on the plus side, I’ve managed to end up with two (hopefully decent) posts after that writing freeze.
I was talking to someone the other day, and they asked me what I was afraid of. And of course, my instinctive reaction was to say, ‘Thunderstorms’. That, and horror movies, have always been the two things I couldn’t deal with. More often than not, the expression I was left with during either was always something like this:
I know, laughable. But, I kid you not, I get the heebie-jeebies with both of those.
But, when I sat to think about it more seriously, about what was it that I was afraid of, it made me reflect on my life. I do that sometimes, it helps me gain clarity on what I’m thinking about. It got personal, maybe more than I had bargained for. It took me a while to get around it, but I realised…My biggest fear, that always scared me for the longest time, was not being enough.
I know I’m not alone in having this fear. Most (if not all) women, and many men, are insecure about some aspect of theirs. They may feel they’re not sexy enough, not athletic enough, not hipster enough, not fair enough, not tanned enough…the highly superficial list goes on. But yeah, I have to admit, it’s the most crippling feeling ever.
When have I felt like this? All through my life. Society has a set of rules it sets, that people – and in my case particularly, women – are expected to conform to. I was never one of the conformists, for whatever reason. I started off being okay with that, but there were a lot of people who weren’t. I was ridiculed growing up, from a very young age, about the way I looked, the things I did – I wasn’t part of the “cool” crowd, or the “popular” crowd. Sometimes, even my family and friends made jokes at my expense. I would take it all in my stride, but as time passed, my faith in myself began to dwindle. I began to believe I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t smart enough to be a top student. I wasn’t pretty enough to have a boy want to talk to me, or good enough for a boy to like me. I wasn’t talented enough to make my parents proud of me.
And it got to me enough to want to stay on the sidelines. I chose to be behind the scenes, and be the one that hid from everything and everyone, as long as I could do things like writing and reading; things that made me happy. It was a time that took me to a bit of a dark place, one that I really didn’t like. But when I got to the other side of it, I was glad. With some help, my writing (as I’ve said before) and a stronger heart and soul, I tried to turn things around as much as I could.
I realised that I had a soul that was damaged enough to not want someone else go through the same thing I did, so I became the best kind of friend anyone could ask for – the one who listened. I realised there were too many toxic people in my life that I needed to walk away from, and that is what I started to do. I was made to realise (by some wonderful people) that I had a personality that could win over almost anyone if I tried, so try I did. I was also made to realise that I just hadn’t recognised I was beautiful – not just on the inside, but the outside as well. Do you know how liberating and soul-freeing that is? I can tell you, it is very much so.
I think I’ve been lucky to have things turn around like that for me. It took a long while (nearly 14 years since it all first started) for it all to change, but luckily, it started to. Not everyone has that kind of luck, and you hear of horrid things that happen to a whole lot of people who could not take the pressure to conform anymore. To be what they weren’t. To not deal with what scared them the most.
To anyone who identifies with this as they read it, I only say this. One day, I recognised what I was afraid of. I chose to surround myself with more people that raised me up, than brought me down. And that is the day I started healing. It’s a continuous process, and someday, you will make it through. One day, it gets better. Just start with that basic question…
What are you afraid of?
Note: I’m writing this to my 40 year old self, presuming that it’s a good time in the future to write to.
Dear future me,
I did mention you in my previous letter. But I shall, once again reiterate what I have to say. Just so we’re clear, you know?
I hope that as you read this, you have finished your ’30 before 30′ list, and have moved on to your ‘Things to do before I’m 40’ list. I hope that you have everything your heart has hoped for, because with every little hurdle you face along the way, you realise that you deserve it all. Because you have damn well earned it.
Let’s hope that all the things you believed in when you were young were worth believing in when you read this. That true friends will stick by you through it all. That love is hard, but it’s worth it. That family is important, but they don’t always know what’s good for you. That you are your own person, in charge of your own happiness, and that no one can take that from you.
I hope you have reached that point in life where you are happy with the person you are, inside and out. Where you are finally the best version of you that you believe you can possibly be. You have a beautiful soul (something too many people have already told you), and you should have let that beauty shine upon the world. They deserve it.
Lastly, I don’t know what direction your life has taken you professionally. But all I hope is that you still write. Either as a hobby or as part of your career, I hope you put your soul to paper as often as you can. Because I know this now, I knew it a while ago, and you will know it too – nothing helps you grow and soar to heights unknown with the joy that writing gives you.
I look forward to YOU.
P.S. Never forget, nothing beats a good hug, or a bowl of ice cream with good music and a book =)