At one point in my life I considered myself an open book. I read from my heart and soul like I had nothing to lose. I shared my experiences, my stories, and memories. At many times when I shared, I thought I was forming connections with those around me. With those that sought to know: Who Are You? Sometimes they could relate. Sometimes they couldn’t. Sometimes they had similar stories. Sometimes their experiences differed. As I grew older I maintained many friendships with those around me. I thought our connections were growing stronger. However, as we grow older we also evolve. Many times those around you don’t evolve, or grow WITH you.
I recently realized that my changes weren’t similar to the changes amongst those I called friends, family, or kin. It didn’t have to be, yet many have already labelled and defined me. My reputation amongst my circle preceded me, yet most of these labels didn’t define me. Did they keep up? Did I grow too fast? Am I wrong? Was anyone to blame? It really didn’t matter to me, because I still am loyal. However, someone’s definition of you can cause more damage than your own actions sometimes. Someone’s reputation can also cause mistreatment against you if they deem you unworthy of fair treatment. I have experienced this and witnessed this often.
We all evolve at our own pace, and sometimes we are already content with where we are. It is definitely a personal choice for any change, however I felt as though I would remain connected to those that I loved. Many began to question me. My behaviors changed. My methods changed. My goals changed. Yet, in so many ways I was still the same. How did my change hinder my connection to them? Or were they already disconnected? I realized the key that was missing was understanding. They never truly understood who I was. Their labels no longer fitted what I was displaying to them. I realized their perception of me was completely wrong. Did they have me all wrong the whole time? Or did they not understand that my mission was my own growth all along?
Most of these relationships I had to let go. I had to release them to find their own way as I journeyed to find mine. I was smothered by the misperceptions of me. I was stifled by the box they tried to fit me in. I was depressed when I came to accept that I wasn’t understood. No matter how much I shared. No matter how open I was. No matter how many times I tried to explain where I was coming from. My truth was rejected, remixed, repackaged, rephrased, and redistributed through misunderstanding. When you realize that its hard to find someone around you that understands you, you begin to feel more and more alone. Many times you even feel betrayed, if that misunderstanding turns into lies or deception. You feel as though you wasted so much of your time sharing only to be misperceived.
In my alone time, I found the power in myself to be authentically myself. I felt safe and secure enough to be who I Am without restrictions or misjudgment. Or resistance. The hardest part becomes the reveal. When you reveal the self you allowed to be hidden, or bravely display the part of you that will not be accepted. You begin to conflict with those around you. Conflict cannot be avoided. I learned even when I humbled myself to avoid misunderstanding or miscommunication, I still encountered conflict. So I instead chose to be brave and live in my truth anyway. I allowed the misperceptions of me from others to spread. I realized I couldn’t change their minds. They had a definition or a label for me, and it was enough for them.
What’s interesting is that the ones that misunderstand you the most, seem to also have the loudest voices. If they seek to hurt or harm you, they will spread the misinformation quicker. Or they have the most influence to spread the information. Even if its not true. I felt betrayed. Why would they spread such lies about me? A lie don’t care who tells it. By the time it came back to me I was expected to explain myself. I choose not to.
I choose to not exhaust myself trying to explain who I am to those committed to misunderstanding me. I choose to merely stand up for myself and find the voice that I lost a long time ago. I choose to take back my power and define myself for myself. I choose to reject the labels placed on me. I choose to be authentically me, self-defined. I choose to share who I Am, and share my own stories on my own platform. I choose to write my own narratives for myself. I choose to encourage others to do the same. I choose to be more careful to not do the same to others. I choose to reclaim what is mine. My voice. My image. My gifts. My visions. My definitions. And I choose to share it with truth, honesty, compassion, and integrity. Don’t let me be misunderstood.
Photo Source: Fabian Perez
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