I love meeting strangers. They have very limited speculations as to who I am, who I have been, or who I should be. For them, I can be anything I want to be. Portraying myself as shy, courageous, passionate, thoughtful, charismatic, solemn, or whatever I feel at the moment. Affirming my own ambiguity, I write out my fate as I choose; leaving them with the impressions of whoever I want them to believe that I am. Maybe that’s why my life is filled with so many strangers, quite a few who I call my friends. I am good at keeping my distance, and only showing glimpses of myself. A relationship with a stranger is a lot less messy than a dedicated friendship that requires feelings, expectations, and commitment.
To let someone truly know you is to completely let your guard down, making yourself defenseless. You are left stripped to nothing but your raw, exposed, and entirely naked soul. And really, isn’t that what we’re all afraid of? We are afraid of the possibility that we may be rejected if we reveal our most honest and unbeautiful selves. Who would be impressed if they knew our darkest secrets or our deepest wounds? Instead, we gracefully conform and contort ourselves into a pristine little package, to be relevant to our immediate surroundings. It has become so instinctive that many times we forget that we are even doing it. Walking away from the mirror, we put on our proverbial masks to hide our weaknesses, covering who we sincerely are.
It’s easy to smile at the neighbor across the way but to never take the time to even ask their name. It’s easy to escape our problems by carefully creating a fabricated facade of who we would rather be, instead of revealing who we actually are. It’s within our realm of comfort to dim down, highlight, or conceal our legitimate character traits or flaws to find ourselves in the acceptance of others. Yet in doing this, we slowly lose ourselves. While adapting to the expectations of others, we often forget what makes us uniquely beautiful.
Although I love entertaining strangers, it’s time for me to kill the show. Recently I have realized the importance of revealing my truest self to those closest in my life. Risking the vulnerability of my heart being broken. Allowing myself to trust others with knowing my good, my bad, and my unashamed ugly. Admitting that sometimes I am lost. Exposing my not so pretty battle scars, and many deep wounds. I am taking off the masks I’ve so comfortably hidden behind for many years to chance an entirely unknown outcome. However, it is a risk I am willing to take to be my most honest self, as I am becoming more and more beautifully unbeautiful.
-Melissa J. Soule