The big news this week is that Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medal decathlon winner, has come out as transgender. The man considered the “greatest athlete in the world” in his time, and the picture of strength and masculinity, announced on national TV that “for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman”. That takes great courage for anyone to do, not to mention his public persona and the fact that he did it on national TV. Bravo. Bravo!
In case you missed the interview, you can see it HERE,
I don’t know exactly why, but it seems to be very difficult to be yourself. It could be a societal thing or a human trait, but fearing we won’t be accepted can be so strong, it often creates a lot of stress and pain. Being oneself should be the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not. Maybe because we are social creatures with such a strong need to be accepted. Whether on a job interview, a date, at a social gathering, among friends, being picked for the dodgeball team in gym class, or in that ultimate relationship with our parents, we all inevitably want to be accepted. Being excluded or rejected is something none of us (understandably) want to feel or experience.
One option to try to avoid rejection is to pretend we are something we’re not. I don’t think taking that path is sustainable. We often hear, “the honeymoon is over” after a couple has been together for some time and they start to see the “real” person they are with. Or how many of us have made a decision or two (or more) based on what we thought we should do instead of what we felt in our heart? It took Bruce Jenner 65 years to accept who he/she truly is. I know from my own life it would be much easier to be what I think people want me to be than to be who I am, but there is nothing satisfying in that. And I believe if you cannot be yourself, you cannot truly express yourself in the world. No one will be totally accepted by everyone, and I’ve learned that the most important person who needs to accept me is me. Once I can accept myself the way I am, other’s opinions matter less, and I am free to fully express myself. And then those who accept and support me suddenly find me and stick around. No more phony, empty relationships. No more games. Life is much simpler. I can breathe more easily, and I find myself much happier.
For some reason, it seems that life is a never ending challenge to be myself. As I grow and let go of “protective behavior”, so to speak, and relax into “myself”, I inevitably find another new level to uncover. It never seems to end. It is like an onion, peeling back layer after layer after layer. I suppose that is the journey of a human life.
A world based on acceptance would be a true Garden of Eden. People could spend their time expressing themselves and contributing to society and to others, instead of spending lives grappling to “be OK”, or to “fit in” or to “find myself”. I think Bruce Jenner’s “coming out” is helping the world take a baby step towards accepting others for who they are – exactly the way they are. Seeing this man we identified a certain way come out as being totally different than we thought he was – filled with overwhelming doubts and insecurities just like us all – is very powerful. It can open our eyes to realize that we are all the same – even with all our differences. Hopefully, it will help all of us accept the things about ourselves that we are afraid to admit, the things we have shame about, or the things that we are told are wrong about us. Once the world reaches a place of acceptance, life will be so extraordinary for everyone.
This struggle to fully be oneself is something I write about in different ways in my music. I touched on it in previous blogs, “Goodbye ‘Glee’, Set the ‘Boy’ Free”, and “A Stand for Oneself in ‘No’, Sparked by Sophia Loren”, highlighting my songs, “No” and “Boy”. A song I wrote that directly touches on the subject of becoming your “true” self, is “The Hidden Side of Me”, from my second CD, “Ready”. This song, with its drum and bass sound, speaks about the courage and pain it takes to shed the facades and walls we’ve built, to become that truthful, hidden part of ourselves. Enjoy!
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