***Sword of Truth SPOILERS…don’t read the quote if you haven’t read The Pillars of Creation…Timothy, that is for you :)***
As a hysterical 13 year old, I remember telling my mom, “But how can I be myself when I don’t even know what myself is?!” Thus began a series of adolescent identity crises. Some kids don’t appear to care, or struggle, with who they are, and some hide it. Others, like me, just lay it all out there, ugly and all, for the world to see.
Sarah Dessen’s book What Happened to Goodbye talks about a girl who, in an effort to cope with her parents’ divorce, tries on personalities like clothes each time they move. She reaches a point of tension when she moves to her town and is surrounded by people who won’t let her be anyone but herself.
Because I was insecure as a teenager, I found myself trying on different personalities, much like McLain. My eclectic wardrobe reflects the styles I played around with. Trying different things out gave me a confidence that I hadn’t gained internally.
Most people look for a place to belong, and that is primarily why I think people sacrifice their personality. They find people they like or look up to and make these unconscious, subtle compromises in the name of “fitting in”. While it may earn them a place in the crowd they’ve desired to be in, it doesn’t earn them any respect. Who wouldn’t rather have respect from a distance than attention from up close?
Okay, so maybe that was a stupid question. Everybody loves attention. In the long run, though, it wears you out and dries you up. Once I got to the point where I felt like I could “be myself”, with a decent grasp on what that was, it was received surprisingly well. Nice people have a sense for authenticity.
I’ve learned to be bold but maintain politeness. It’s a challenging tightrope to walk. At times, I wonder if I was ever myself during my adolescent years. Perhaps not, but I don’t think I’d take back any of the lessons I’ve learned. Like Terry Goodkind says,
Life is the future, not the past. The past can teach us, through experience, how to accomplish things in the future, comfort us with cherished memories, and provide the foundation of what has already been accomplished. But only the future holds life. To live in the past is to embrace what is dead. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew.