This cartoon is such a straight forward depiction of one of our deepest fears – that if we honestly reveal to others who we are, we may get reactions that are pretty unsettling. The only thing more frightening is when we are standing in front of the mirror having this conversation.
Over the years, as a result of our life experiences, relationships and culture, we construct walls and moats in order to protect ourselves from feeling that pain again. Consequently, we end up burying parts of ourselves that reflect who we really are.
In a radio interview, Brene Brown talks about this, “I think there is a place and time in our lives where we realize that growing up, when we felt pain, when we felt small, when we felt unseen. Then I think this happens in midlife where we realize, oh, God, to be the person we want to be, to be the partner, to be the parent, we have to take down everything we put up that was supposed to be keeping us safe.”
So at some point, either through deliberate contemplation or one of those unexpected bricks to the side of the head, we come to understand how hard we have been working at being the person we thought others would like us to be – and we just can’t do it anymore. We realize that the energy we are expending protecting ourselves from that associated vulnerability is just too much – and, out of sheer fatigue, we begin showing up as our real selves. We make the choice to take off the bubble wrap we have so carefully applied, and be seen.
What happens next is unique to each of us, but the outcome is almost always supremely better than anyone imagines. It’s a long walk from “what will people think” to “I am enough”, and that journey can’t begin until you believe it and reveal it to yourself. And getting to that place can be hard, especially if it’s been a really long time since you’ve connected with the ‘true you’. But the cost of not taking those steps is far greater.