If you really knew me would you still love me?
That’s a question that has often plagued the caverns of my heart. If they really knew what I thought, or what I felt, or how I saw the world…how could anyone ever love me? As a result of this thinking, I started lying. I created an image of who I think people wanted to see instead of who I actually was. I created a persona that I thought people would be attracted to, and the tricky thing is, it worked. I established friendships based on who I wanted people to think I was and it worked. The only problem with that is…it’s fake. It’s all a sham. It worked temporarily and I got the affirmation from people that I was seeking but the problem was that the people around me are being authentic about a person who I am pretending to be, and not who I actually am. Next thing you know, I am surrounded by people yet I feel alone because nobody actually knows me. How did I get here?
One word: shame.
Shame is a sneaky thing. We think we have a good understanding of what it is based on how it makes us feel, but we are often times unaware of how it shapes the people we become. Whether someone is self-centered or self-conscious, the root always goes back to shame. We are ashamed of who we are. The self-centered person has a fear that we are ordinary, that if we don’t make ourselves known we will be missed or simply lost in the crowd. We don’t think the core of who we are is enough to be valued and so we build ourselves up so that we can appear bigger. As a result, we end up overcompensating by consistently reminding ourselves, and everyone around us, of how much better than you we are. In reality, if we could just get comfortable with who we really are, we would understand that its not about being better or worse than the other guy, it’s just about being you. On the other side, we have the self-conscious person who believes that our heart and our life has no value. As a result, we constantly tear ourselves down because we are ashamed of who we are. We see ourselves in a world surrounded by people who are better and have more than we ever could, and furthermore believe that we have no value to anyone else. In reality, if we could just accept themselves for who we are, quirks and all, and truly be that ourselves then the world would accept them with open arms.
Society has a tendency to say with their mouth “do this, be this, and look like this…” but in reality the heart of the world is hungry for people to stand up and be authentically who they are. One tragedy of modern culture is that it teaches us that “you are worth what you are able to produce.” This creates the narrative that my value is somehow dependent on my ability to perform. From your first breath you were created in the image of God. You are so much more valuable than numbers on a paycheck, your status in a social group, or your ability to provide for those around you. Stop lying about who you are, just be you because deep down that’s all we really need.