I often ask myself – how can I make myself relatable? As a teacher with years of experience, I find that when people put me on a pedestal, and don’t see my struggles, they don’t believe they can achieve the same things that I have. How can I show you that ALL of the things that I do (and how I do them) is attainable by anyone?
Somewhere along the way, I got in the habit of dulling my light in order to convince myself “I’m just like you!” in the culturally ordinary version of living. I’ve gone as far as attempting to be successful in a corporate job, torturing my body, neutering my emotions / behavior, and numbing my mind in order to try to hold up the crumbling foundation of “we have something concrete in common.”
I’ve been able to blend in… sometimes. I got a job my parents would approve of. I got a degree in theoretical mathematics (oops, turns out that’s not so relatable). I stifled my opinions and smiled politely in the face of aversion. I bought plain clothes. I developed a subsection of my humor to shit on life in a way that pleased those around me, but just made my depression worse. I learned how to convince others they were right (even when I disagreed) in order to get the spotlight off of myself so people would stop calling me “hard-headed” or “full of myself” which was total bullshit, by the way.
But I’ve got to stop lying to you and myself. I may be exceptionally smart in certain aspects, but it is physically impossible for me to follow all the rules without losing my mind. I often got in trouble at every day job I’ve ever worked because I’d always be working on a personal project instead of my assigned task. When I was a barista, I didn’t give as much of a shit about the shop as I should have because I’d be doing my homework or researching new workshops I could take to increase my movement vocabulary and skillset. As a sample coordinator in the lab, I’d spend way too much time on my phone interacting with my students and trying to learn about increasing engagement. I may have gotten my degree in theoretical mathematics, but I started college dreaming about tripping on hella hallucinogens with shamans in rainforests and deserts, learning about the different strategies people used to cope with this thing called life. My sense of humor is naturally more awkward and celebratory about the simple idiosyncrasies found inside of my personality, it definitely isn’t about how much I want to drink to forget (I actually don’t even like drinking as much as I thought I did, and I sure as hell never forget anything).
I went about trying to prove "I'm just like you!" in the worst way possible.
We already have something fundamental in common, even if I can't subscribe to the ordinary version of living – we are all human beings just trying to find a way to hate life a little less every day. We try to love and find love. We try to navigate the complex and chaotic world we never asked to be a part of. And if someone has a hard time relating to that, do I really want to try to show them common ground? What is the point in trying to grab every single outlier, causing me to lose focus on the people that are ready to receive my messages?
There is a fine line between being vulnerable and being self-deprecating.
The insane notion of me shying away from my spark in the fringe case of burning you to seem “more like you” is flawed to the core because if I was just like you, then what would you gain from me by having a carbon copy telling you to be better? You could look in a mirror for free.
Anytime I can spread light to the darkness, I’m game. However, anytime I have to dull my light to make your eyes adjust to me in a less shocking way – fuck it, I’m just not going to ever do that again. If you want to bask in my light, you can find a way to adjust. If not, then maybe I’m just not your type. And that’s okay.
I suggest you do the same in your own life.