I recently received an email from a group I am a part of, asking me to participate in taking a Myers-Briggs personality test and share it at our next gathering, so we can see how we can “effectively work” together. The group, I believe, is an advocacy group. I think. The group is still trying to figure out who they are; yes it is complicated. I am not knocking Myers-Briggs. I believe it is a handy tool for personal growth. But I am struggling with participating and coming back to a table with a description of my personality that dictates to you how I will fit into the group or dictates to you how you will better control my actions to fit into the group. I am feeling this is all about judgement and I am having a tough time accepting this request. Should I be struggling with this?
There is something about being isolated for over a year. Over the past year, I have reflected on my self-worth. I realize that I no longer will tolerate anyone or anything that believes I must first prove myself to them to fit in. Not gonna happen! There are lessons I gained and maybe others gained as well, that as awful as this time is or was, we found a piece of ourselves that we had hidden beneath a pile of debris so deep, that we thought we lost all site of our beauty. But because we found time to breathe, to be, forced to deal with who we always were, this hidden beauty rose up out of the burial ground and reminded us of our worth.
This is the thing for me here…I am not afraid of the personality test. I am afraid of sharing the personality test with the group. Why? Because now I wonder how the group will perceive me going forward. How do they view me now? What actions would they allow me to lead or not lead because under the personality with my name on it, they have power to decide how we can “effectively work” together.
Why do you say I am struggling with this? I am reminded when this group first started. One person came up to me and said, “We were wondering what type animal you are, whether you were a lion, a bear, or some other type. It’s hard to pinpoint who you are.” I took offense then. I’m taking offense now. Why do you need to pinpoint who I am? For those who have worked on your self-esteem and are still working through rough patches; for those who have gone through the pain of breaking the cycle of always being down on yourselves; for those who are still climbing out of the spaces that tried hard to keep you hidden from your glorious selves; keep going, even in the midst of asking the question, “why?” Y’all I need to be my best self and unfortunately this group will never get to know the best of me. Oh well!
I am creating a space to practice yoga in my home. Yoga is not new to me, but because I am not disciplined in my practice, I consider myself still a beginner. The room is the smallest in my home but it is the room I gravitate to the most. Hanging on the walls are two pieces of art work which are very precious to me. One is a drawing of a young woman with locs, her head gently bowed, the palm of her hand turned graciously and she is softly swaying. The drawing is titled, “Thoughts in Movement”. The other piece is a painting of three older full body women, colorful scarves tied around their heads, aprons tied around their round waist, looking like they just came out of a field, jubilant and dancing with the sun lighting their joy. There is no title for this piece. In fact, this piece was balled up in the back of my truck for years after I moved away from an abusive relationship and was about to throw it out! It was worn and had a small tear but I restored the art piece and had it perfectly framed.
While creating this space, I found myself dancing, with no rhythm. My body went in whatever direction it wanted to. My belly shaking with sounds and the flaps of my arms joining in with harmony. I looked at the picture of the three older women and laughed out loud and danced along with them, dancing through fields of hardship but swaying with an ease. I then turned my attention to the young woman and thanked her for her bravery and determination to keep moving, because of her I remember how to dance. I remember to how unravel myself from the bruise spots on my body. I remember how to hear the soft whispers instead of the harsh blows. I remember that there were other women who danced through the pain with me. I’m so glad they did not allow me to keep them rolled up in the back of a truck or thrown out in the trash.
This journey comes with some trials and tribulations. At times it may appear to be easier to hide in a corner, crumpled up because unraveling yourself will hurt. Unraveling our past mistakes, our past failures; unraveling how others have harmed us, these things are not pretty. But unraveling helps smooth out the wrinkles. Unraveling brushes away the debris of all the wrong things we have said to ourselves. Once the process of unraveling starts, we remember who we are. We remember we are creative, intelligent, loving and we can dance to our own unique rhythm.
So what should be the name of the picture? The picture of those women dancing triumphantly, the one with no name. What should it be titled? I don’t know, yet. But what I do know is that I have the power to figure it out. And for that, I dance!
It finally happened! Seriously! It did! I don’t know when it happened but that’s it! Yep! I am now 61 years old and I choose to not care what others think of me. Whew! For most of my adult life it mattered what others thought of me. I carried myself as a person who always smiled and people said, ” She is so kind” or “She has such a sweet spirit”. I met the needs of others by being what they wanted me to be. As long as I stayed in my place, did not make a fuss and spoke softly to the naysayers, I was welcomed. I don’t know what took me so long and it really doesn’t matter what or why, but baby I’ve arrived! Yep. It happened!
Now I’m not sure if I have said this before. Maybe?! Maybe last August turning 60 I said it? If I did, well, it didn’t stick apparently. But now, I’m sure. Don’t second guess me!! Now I’m sure that I choose to be authentic to who I am. This is the way I see it. If I walk around pretending to be what you want, then I am not only hating myself, I am hating you. Yes, I am hating you. I have lied to you. I have smiled in your face and pretend to laugh at your jokes. I have gone out of my way to provide things that you need at the same time blessing you out under my breath and returning the thing that you need with a fake smile and a dangerous graciousness that may have made you feel like you were on top of the world. And you fell for it. Oh my! That was not nice of me after all. Wait! You’re waiting for an apology?
This is what I know for sure now. After turning 61, you can not please everyone. You can not pretend to be someone different in order for others to love. You cannot keep up an appearance that drowns your true self because what will happen, is that one day, that shell will break. And either you will choose to live free, broken shell and all, or you will die never knowing how wonderful and marvelous you are.
I’m serious! This time it really did happened!!! I’m broken for the better and I’m loving it!