For my 30th birthday, I did something untoward, something I’d never done before. I organised a birthday party to celebrate. I decided it was time to bite the bullet and gather people who I was blessed with as friends and place them all in the same room. Friends from school days and from new days were amassed under one roof for my sake. I’ve never done one since. It taught me so much, and I’m still sifting through the lessons.
It confirmed to me that I am no good with attention (to this day, one of the major reasons I don’t want to get married is the thought of having everyone look at me for a few hours). Knowing that people were there for my sake meant I internalised the responsibility for every single one of them to have a good time. My choice, and it’s a bad habit that I still need to unpick.
It reaffirmed to me that joy is a subjective thing. I wanted to dance all night. My partner didn’t. He also wasn’t mad about me dancing with anyone else seeing as it was salsa. It reaffirmed to me that I often subsume my joy under the responsibility of making someone else okay with their choice of perception. My choice and it’s a bad habit that I still need to unpick.
And more than anything else, what terrified me was the realisation of what a chameleon I was. I realised that night that almost every person knew me but also knew a different me than the person next to them. I realised how much I morphed and mirrored people with facets already in me, but never surfaced unless with that particular person. I looked around a disparate group of people who had never met each other and had no idea what they may have in common, despite knowing my interests and beliefs.
That night, I understood how fractured and splintered I had let myself become. I saw tangibly in front on me the results of that. There wasn’t one person there who knew all of me. Not one who could recount any part of my life accurately. They were all precious to me, and I treated them well, but I used them to hide myself, so well I had no idea until that night.
I’ve tried hard since then to reassemble myself, to edit less, crop less, withhold less and open more. But it’s tough.
I’ve had a realisation recently that one of the things that makes it tough is that I pride myself on being flexible. One of the things that I love about yoga is the marriage of corporeal and contemplative flexibility being nurtured in a peaceful state. And I’m getting there in both. And I’m proud of that. But I’m beginning to see that if I don’t marry that with knowing my ground, knowing what I offer in myself, for myself, then I risk being so flexible that I drift back to my 30th birthday and a shapeshifter role. I will wobble and deviate from my inner strength and I will never be a true expression of all that I am.
Straddling across roles at work and home and out in the social world is a common thing, but I feel like so many of ourselves stretch ourselves so thin that no one, including us, gets to see the true beauty that lies in all of us. If you’re anything like me, we’re all things to all people, instead of focusing on being ourselves bringing our best to the table. And when I ask myself who gets the best of me, I’m really not sure anyone does. In every sphere of my life, I may lead the charge and I may be surrounded and return love, but I know there’s more in me. I just don’t know what it looks like.
So as I slide into the fifth year of my new life upside down, I’m making the biggest commitment I’ve ever made. My commitment is to learn who the best me is, what she looks like and what she has to offer. No more fractured facets, no more filtering. It won’t happen overnight and it will never fully resolve. I will change as I grow and grow as I change but I think it’s worth it. We only get one shot of this life as we understand it, in this body and this time. And I want to go out as whole and shiny as possible, a jigsaw puzzle with a discernible image, a soul comfortable in its sense of home. I want the people who love me to love all of who I am and know what love from all of me feels like. I want to know my core truths and meet others with true compassion, even if they don’t compliment each other, because I understand that’s no threat or reflection of me. I want to see myself as the unique expression of the universal whole that I am. I want to see the best of me and know I’ve shown it to my world.