It is fairly accurate to say that up until about two years ago I had a very idyllic view on the world. I knew bad things happened, and that the good guy didn’t always win, but I had never really been in a situation where I was on the receiving end of the injustice.
Then, suddenly, I was.
I was in a situation where I once felt safe. I felt as if I could be myself, and that I didn’t need to water myself down for anyone, or anything. I love to banter, and I love to give people a hard time. I’m also very straightforward, and I’m a fairly transparent person. You know if I don’t like you because I can’t fake like I do. It’s just not how I’m wired.
I had learned that there was a time and place, and certain types of people I could banter with. I mean, it pretty much comes with the territory of having my personality. I’m an acquired taste, and some never quite catch on. Not everyone can handle a person that doesn’t back down and is more than happy to go toe to toe matching wits the entire time. Not everyone can handle someone that calls it like it is, either. Or a person that refuses to be a yes-man, and also refuses to back away from sticking up for themselves (I affectionately refer to this as “refusing to eat shit,” because that is what it is to me).
The details regarding the moment I realized the good guy doesn’t always win is not the most interesting. Let’s just say, a person that acted like they could handle my personality, suddenly couldn’t. Perhaps they figured eventually I’d come to their inner circle and be one of their minions, and when they realized that wasn’t my thing, they turned. Either way, it was horrible and hostile. It was people questioning my audacity to speak up, and me telling them I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It was painful and it was discouraging. It changed my perspective on everything. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Soon, I got over it.
Life moved on, and I was lucky enough to never really have to see this person any more. Things had finally started to calm down.
And then, I choked.
I mean, not literally. I was bantering with someone I don’t know all that well, but knew well enough to know I could joke with them. However, in the midst of the banter, I panicked. Suddenly, it was if I had forgotten how to speak.
I had lost my voice.
Again, not literally. But, it could have been. I thought I could be “me” again, but suddenly I was shown that I wasn’t able to be. No one was holding me back, or telling me that I had to be quiet. It was all me. I started to relive the hostility. I was starting to feel discouraged all over again. I started to water myself down.
Weeks later I notice this watering down BS bleed into other facets of my life. I’m angry now. I’m angry because I’m afraid. Afraid that if I am myself, I won’t be liked and that people will no longer want to be my friend. Angry that I even care.
So, here I am, pounding on my keyboard hoping that by pouring my heart out on this computer, I will somehow find the answer to make it stop. To make me stop watering myself down. To make me stop caring if others like me, and wondering if I need to change who I am.
I just want to stop.
I want to end this post with a nice, warm fuzzy, filled with all sorts of sunshine and rainbows. Sadly, it’s not going to happen.
Instead, it will end with a type of declaration:
I will stop watering myself down. I will start to trust people again. I will not change who I am to make anyone happy. I will embrace those who choose to be around me, both professionally and personally, and be thankful that they are there. And to those that think they have broken me? I will continue to live in such a way that each time you see me succeed, it will be as if I am sending a gigantic “F*CK YOU” your way.
I will find my voice and I will not lose it again.