Can I tell you something? I mean something really dumb?
When I first came to college, one of the quickest ways I related to new friends was to dance. With a little top forty music and a bizarre back to school function, dancing was this new miracle I had only really indulged in for highschool PE and to celebate leaving high school at prom. I didn’t know much about it, but if you have a little joy or confidence and you dance, it isn’t hard to get attention.
And that isn’t always good. In my cluster of a small social life, we had various dances in the on campus hall at which I lived. Themed dances that were alcohol free (for 99 % of people) and often featured groups of girls standing in circles and dancing and boys doing the same, often with a seemingly required air of creepiness. It wasn’t that anyone thought in good and clear judgment that they were trying to be creepy, it was just assumed, just as the same manner of dance and music had us ladies copying music videos and whatnot. It was a well organized opportunity to proove yourselves to others, and the dress up was fun.
So we danced. Not always well, generally only moderately offensively, but there was something about it that didn’t make sense. I always got the feeling that what people most appreciated about me in those moments was so disingenuous to what I like about me. Along with the standard stereotype of casually expecting me to be sassy and “telling it like it is” because I was fat, I wasn’t expected to be kind, or gracious, or compassionate, or respectful. I was expected to cause a scene and enjoy the attention, because I also thought that was all that I want.
When you are extoverted and have the ability to be a presence among others, there can be a lot of temptation to actively be someone you’re not. A lot of my friends have always thought of me as a someone likely to raise hell, and anymore, I’m not sure how well that fits. It may have been more true a few years ago, but my peers have always seemed to separate into these two camps of thinking I was nice or expecting me to introduce division. And yet, causing problems and attracting attention is no different from cradle to grave, although we can do it for different reasons. We can delude ourselves. We can accept the delusions of others. What do you do if others expect and legitimately think you are crazier than you are, based off of putting off the vibes you feel expected to send and hoping its enough? Sin feels complicated when you are stuck in a cycle of depravity and you feel blamed for the weirdly polarizing effect honesty has on others. It’s easier to fake it around the edges, and muddle over things you don’t believe both because it’s convenient and because you’re too tired to pick at it. We encourage one another to fall into these categories of traits we desire in ourselves and our friends in order to make ourselves popular, and its really hard to get out of that. People don’t realize what kind of fracturing feeling that allowing yourself to be the worst version of yourself can create. We pick friends who will tolerate our nonsense instead of people who will inspire us, all because we don’t want to budge. These stagnant relationships that expect you to never want more, not invest in your dreams, and stop maturing. And once you get to the end of that rope and decide you have more to offer than you’ve been performing, you find yourself very alone and afraid of figuring out the rest, especially if you get the feeling it will draw you away from others. What if being genuine means you will chronically not be able to suffer all that nonsense? That regardless of if anyone else gets it, this just has to be your best option? Yeah, good luck with that.
It may seem like a paradox, but God gives me the peace to be really deeply weird. It’s ironic that the world thinks that Christians are so likely to conform, when that has not been my experience. If you are following God’s Holy Spirit instead of the hype, you should be more free and made more like him, not saddled with guilt and even more weight you don’t understand. Allowing others to see you and your failures more freely is an act of surrender to God because you are trying to swim in the direction of caring solely about what he thinks, instead of prooving yourself. It doesn’t necessarily feel new that you will be more honest, just more transparent.
The best version of me does not look like a mess. She’s kind and articulate. She would rather solve problems than cause them. On a basic level, something like dancing should be a release instead of working to gain others approval and perform off the clock. You she move because you feel free to, nit because you want to make you and your peers look less boring and jaded. Besides, being genuine isn’t a passive thing. Like dancing, it’s a series of habits that become a routine and center you on some sort of goal. Not all dancing can be bad, just like you can pick better choices that celebrate a good lifestyle, and welcome in health. Ignoring your best traits and actively choosing your worst in an effort to jive with the limited scope of what others appreciate about you is bad news bears. It’s like being spiritually bloated.
I’d rather be weird. It’s easier and more convenient because it requires less striving. It makes space for others to also be the more hidden parts of themselves, and allows you to appreciate others for the stuff that maybe no one else finds fascinating. How often are people appreciated for very baseline things, like humor or wits or strength or mechanical understanding? I bet you five dollars that every person who is just “smart” may not think that is their best quality. What if it was being good with kids, or respecting others well, or being generous with one’s time, or loving to laugh? If we each could invest a little more in the less fanatical good qualities in our friends and familis and take time to notice the “littler” gifts, wouldn’t that make for a happier and more benevolent human race? We don’t have to be disingenuous if we can just love and appreciate one another better, and not expect others to change for us so often. It means more to love a friend who is very different than yourself than people just like you, because you learn more (and better). Why are we being fools and trying to nip all that in the bud? People are more complicated than we think.
It is an empowering thing to commit to being yourself and live that out. It is good for us. I’d rather dance like a goober than use my body for attention because if you crack me open, I’m much more of a goob. I’d rather be dorky and have the heart like a derpy little boy and look for weird bugs and talk about destroying stuff and have a dark sense of humor. Those things are not things I can inhabit if I’m the sassy fat girl who wants your attention. And for frick’s sake, if anyone was paying attention, I wasn’t really those things anyway. It was the only way the freaking world would let me get away with being fat and not take away from literally everything else.
There is a whole bucket list of expectations we each get assigned in our various paths in life, and some are good and some are bad. It’s good to be yourself. It makes everything else easier.