A Moment in My Life – Friday, September 17, 2021
Jeannie Yee Davis
I swore I wouldn’t let anything cost me my authenticity again. I’m my own person now, and I don’t care what people think of me. I couldn’t wait to be like the woman in the famous Jenny Joseph poem “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” that I followed her lead and began wearing purple way before time so as not to shock anybody when the time came. Well, that’s not entirely true, but it fits the poem, so we’ll go with that.
It’s no surprise that some things in our lives will be a work in progress for as long as we live. Hard to believe. I know. I honestly thought I had it down to the point where I convinced myself, “what you see is what you get,” or “take it or leave it,” and “if you don’t like me, you can move along home.” Bottom line, I am who I am, and it doesn’t matter if you like me or not. A while back, I decided that it was better to be authentically me with my likes, beliefs, preferences, and choices than otherwise. In that way, I would never betray myself, and people would know the real me, what to expect, and they could decide whether they like me or not. There would be no misleading, misunderstandings, or misrepresentations. Instead, what you see is what you’ll get. It makes for an honest-to-goodness, easy-peasy lifestyle.
This decision was long overdue but imperative to my happiness because my mom was a tough, protective, and controlling mother growing up. It was her way or no way. I dared not challenge her. I never understood the driver of her decisions, but she was the parent, and there was no arguing with her, which was fine, except her conditioning scarred me for life. To this day, I’m still working on scraping off those scar tissues. They were primarily annoying little things like she insisted we always, and I mean always, said no when a host offered us something to eat or drink. We were never allowed to accept anything, even if we were dying of thirst or really wanted to eat something—silly stuff like that—similarly, with a slew of face-saving etiquettes along the same lines. She did well in instilling her ways in me. I took that lousy habit with me throughout my life, even with her hundreds of miles away. If you asked me if I wanted something without thinking and, habitually, my quick answer would be, “No, thanks!” but truth be told, I might honestly want it. This means I’ve gone through my whole life cheating myself, which was my driver for ending this bad habit. If I want something, I’m going to have it. No more false politeness—that was the key to my mother’s madness, I believe—to save face that her daughters were lady-like and polite.
I appreciate my mother caring so much to bring up her kids right. I would never ding her for that, but her methods had a lot to be desired. I believe a balance would have been the better way to train kids. Be polite, considerate, and respectful while being honest and allowing us to accept hospitality politely. I’ve had friends explain to me that it’s rude in some cultures to say no. Whoa, totally new concept, but I believe it. As I said earlier, it’s simply so much easier if we are honest and live according to face value.
I began practicing as I preach and have been so verbal with my likes and dislikes, and lucky for me, my peeps are loving people who get a kick out of my verbalness, and none has disowned me so far, but I do speak kindly. Still, I’m so blessed, and it felt terrific getting to enjoy whatever I wanted in front of my peeps. We all have a great time. I felt terrific being honest with my friends and true to myself. I love the new me—that’s high praise from someone who had such low self-esteem practically all of her life.
And this brings me to the purpose of this writing. Recently, I met a friend who happens to be a pretty cool guy. Well, at least to me, he is. If you asked him, he’d tell you that he’s just a down-to-earth guy who is a loner—nothing remarkable about him. Somehow, meeting him reminded me of my school days where I was this nerdy kid nobody noticed while he was Joe Cool, and girls flocked to him everywhere he went. Whether this was true or not, this was the reality in my mind, and that new me disbursed into a gazillion tiny particles and blew away replaced with the old insecure me. Suddenly, I saw all my flaws and imperfections and thought that’s what he sees when he looks at me, just like when I was a kid. I don’t know why I thought this. It didn’t matter who the person was—guy or girl, it was the same. In this case, it was a guy. It was nothing he said or did, but as I said, it transported me back to that clumsy little school girl whose insecurities did her no favors.
Old habits die hard, as the old saying goes, and just like the scar tissues I’ve been working on, these old habits can scar you for life as well, as it did me. It was buried so deep that I thought I defeated them, but there are triggers for everything. My trigger was this cool guy who reminded me of my old school days when I saw myself not good enough to be his friend. Unexpectedly, I reverted to my mother’s conditioning, and I faked politeness thinking he wouldn’t like the real me.
It’s a horrible feeling to notice every minor flaw and imperfection on and in my person, but the kicker was my surroundings. I was embarrassed by my world—both my successes and what I lacked. I didn’t want to outshine him or appear like a failure either. None of this makes any sense, but our insecurities don’t make sense. They are what they are—insecurities. I did not like the person I became at that moment. The good news is that recognizing this side of me revealed that I haven’t felt like this in decades meaning there is hope in sending that insecure little school girl back to the past and leaving her there. Now that I am aware of the trigger, I know what I need to do to prevent this issue from happening again.
We all have flaws and imperfections. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is what it is. The truth is, we all have them. They are the essence of who we are. So, why am I making such a big to-do about them with this guy? Then, I think, who is he that I would give him so much power over me? I’ve got tons of friends who have accepted me with all my bents, and I didn’t have to change anything to win their friendship. I made up the whole story in my head thanks to the old me. I don’t know what this guy thinks. I know that if there is any truth in my fabricated story, this would be an unhealthy relationship that would not end up pretty.
We should not have to compromise our authenticity in any friendship. It should be a give and take and an acceptance of who we are, flaws and all. We come with our past successes and failures, which made us the person we are today. No shame attached. Not everyone who comes into our life becomes friends for life. Some come for a season for a reason, and they go on their way. I don’t know if this friend is seasonal. If he is, then I wish him well and thank him for the time we had together. However, I hope there is a future for us, and if so, he’d accept me as I am, perfectly imperfect.