I once lived a curated life. I spent too much of my time, mainly within the depths of my mind, not only analyzing my own thoughts and opinions, but also the calculated images I discerned others trying to portray. Through my observations, it seemed like hardly anyone was entirely genuine—they were always hustling for some sort of approval. Unfortunately, I too found myself caught in this paradox, struggling to find the self-assurance to live a life sans filter—may it be of speech, artistic expression or Instagram photos—while also finding true happiness in a plastic façade. For too long I neatly painted over my cracks with a threadbare coat of ephemeral white paint, eclipsing my true, however imperfect, visage.
Just as this lifestyle started to catch up with me as was imminent from the start, I came across an old definition of the word “courage”, classifying it not as a character trait of a typical Gryffindor or a firefighter saving a kitten from a burning building, but simply as “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” This resonated with me instantly— finally, something that acknowledged the complexity of vulnerability, regardless of how taboo it may be. It wasn’t always easy to bare it all—especially when you’ve spent a lifetime conjuring up just the right set of comebacks, vices and vodka tonics to protect yourself.
It was then I realized that draping your imperfections and idiosyncrasies in snide remarks and Cover Girl foundation until you’re left with a distorted version of yourself isn’t anything remarkable—it’s the easy way out. What’s remarkable is acknowledging your loathed widow’s peak and your dance moves that are more awkward than Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video and saying, “that’s a part of who I am.” Looking at yourself from the inside out and accepting everything in front of you—that is courage. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to grasp and sometimes it’s been there all along, but being unapologetically yourself—physical and emotional scars exposed—opens your heart to experiences and lessons that would otherwise be saved for the brazenly human. Human; not beautiful, not gifted, not perfect, but human.
I now live a full life. I no longer view myself as a never ending work-in-progress whose goal is to impress, perfect and win—but instead as a person whose hair will never lay in quite the right way, who will always manage to arrive 10 minutes late and who will spill a drink down her white blouse without fail, but who’s okay with it. Because if you’re always trying to be someone else, you’ll miss out on the person that you are.