You’re still in there, somewhere.
Before they made you feel small and convinced you that silent was your appropriate state of being, who were you? When you were just a kid with important things to say that no one would hear, you were different. You were full of confidence, hopes and dreams. Before your parents became figures of disappointment and reminders of who you didn’t want to be when you grew up, what were you like? Who were you before they let you down?
When you stood in front of the class at school and proclaimed with conviction that you were to be someone extraordinary as an adult, the teacher laughed. That changed you. They said you were being silly. You weren’t pretty enough to become a singer, and too poor to be president. But you were an optimist once, before the coercion to become a realist. Who were you before they made you doubt your greatness?
You wanted to be cool, and accepted. You wanted people to like you, even those that made fun of you. They thought you were weird. So, you conformed. You did things you knew you shouldn’t — Became a mean girl or a jock, mimicking the behavior of the in-crowd. Then they let you be their friend. Who were you before you lost your sense of self? Before your moral compass was jolted out of whack? Now you did what they did. You liked what they liked. You breathed for their approval, and they obliged.
The time came to enter the real world, and it was much more difficult than you’d ever anticipated. The bummer of all bummers. There was even more pressure to adapt. They told you to be professional, get a good job and pay your bills. This is all part of adulting, but your already diminished individualism was stunted even further. You had no idea who you were or what you wanted, so you let them tell you.
Then you saw the evil. You never knew that humans were capable of such malice. You were naïve. The world chewed you up and spit you out. No one ever returned to check and see if you were ok. They left you there, dying. You accepted this as the norm. Your outlook on life was skewed. Before you became jaded though, you were someone else. Who?
Your heart was broken by a lover. It was shattered to pieces and strewn about in places unknown. They didn’t handle your vulnerability with care. You were deceived and taken advantage of, used and embarrassed. Pain was felt in areas you didn’t even know could hurt. What you got from them wasn’t even close to what you offered in return. That made you mad, and then sad. You lashed out and hurt people, most of all yourself. Your self-esteem was crippled by the blow. You questioned your worth, attractiveness, intelligence, and sense of humor. Pretty much your entire being was subjected to examination. Naturally, flaws were highlighted. You’re still trying to recover. Who were you back when you knew you were enough?
I imagine before they made me someone else I was softer and more hopeful. I was more content with imperfection. I bet I was a more eager believer in others, and gave of myself more freely. I’d probably have explored more of my talents. There would be little untapped potential. Slowly, I’ve been getting back to who I once was. Because despite it all, here we are on the other side. We managed. And somewhere, still there, deep within lies our authentic selves just waiting to be rediscovered.