I recently posted the following thought, about the process of writing my book, on my personal Facebook page:
"How strange that when we open up and begin to tell our story, striving to be authentic in the telling, we actually become changed forever. It's as if we somehow become cleansed by the revelation of who we truly are."
As I usually get such positive responses to my posts, I was quite surprised when one of my friends responded this way:
"Forgive me, Deborah, old friend, but I've always found it quite wise to conceal as much about myself as possible. I think of it in ways perhaps an intelligence operative in a foreign land would. I know what to say to people, how to appear, how to dress to gain their approval, how to act to put them at their ease in a very calculated way. I find as the years pass that I care less about personal "empowerment" (whatever on earth that means!) than I do about the clear and sure power of holding a hand of cards no one can guess at. I'm not so much interested in blossoming as much as I am in surviving. And successful, long term survival sometimes encourages a degree of deception. I don't have a problem with that, needless to say. As Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts."
I initially thought, how sad that he feels that he needs to protect himself by keeping his true identity a secret from the world. However upon reflection I found his response to be quite interesting. It really made me think about how we, especially as children, rise to the expectations that so many others, our parents, teachers and friends have of us. We do this to gain their approval, or to not cause a stir in our relationship with them. We become so careful of being non-confrontational, and sometimes we lose ourselves in the process.
It can become very difficult as we get older to change that habit of being the person that we think we have to be in order to be liked or to gain the approval of others. Yet we don't have to confront others in order to be ourselves. We simply have the right to shine authentically from the inside, and realize that whatever other's think of us, has more to do with them and their own beliefs, insecurities and fears than it does to do with us. In either case it is so freeing to know that we are enough; that we are a unique individual with special qualities that deserve to be shared with the world. I hope that one day my friend comes to that realization and is truly able to let himself shine, without worrying about others expectations or reactions. However, if he does, in fact, prefer to live a life incognito, I hope that he feels lots of joy and discovery in that as well.