Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who I Am

All of a sudden I like myself much more than I ever have before. I like who I've always been, and the person I am becoming, day by day and eventually year by year. We are all born with specific character qualities and quirks, and in childhood we learn which of those are acceptable and which need to be refined or destroyed, but the essence of who we are doesn't really change.

I think we can work on ourselves to improve the raw material, but the basic building blocks of our personality stay the same from birth to death. We are either right brained or left brained, funny or serious, social or introverted. We are all at different points on those continuums, and we can always change, but I'm realizing that perspective is everything here.

Some of the qualities I thought were not great can become great if I change the way I view them. I always hated and feared my own sensitivity, but now I'm trying to embrace it for the gift it can be, provided I don't shut it down and try to turn it into something else. I'm realizing that I have the right to be angry as well as happy, and that my extroverted nature swings on the hinge of my desire to be alone, and that all of those things work in tandem with each other.

I grew up seeing the world as very black and white. It's how I was taught, and there were elements of it which provided safety and comfort. There were also many areas that felt as constricting as a straitjacket. Loosening those bonds and opening myself up to mystery in my faith, values and opinions has been like experiencing a terrific thunderstorm, with moments of abject panic mixed with wonder and awe.

I like being complicated in my personality. I think all of us are wired this way, but we weed out the acceptable from the unacceptable based on the subtle (and not-so-subtle) messages we receive from our families and our cultures. It's only now, after I've done an intense amount of work on myself through a mixture of counseling and conflict, that I can see the other sides of my personality, which I've kept hidden in the basement for most of my life.

I can see these qualities, and coax them gently out into the light, and find ways to integrate them into my daily existence. I think this is what people mean when they talk about a "well rounded person." I felt two dimensional before compared to the extra dimensions I have now. I believe these qualities have always been there, but were forced into dormancy, and now I can ease them back into the fabric of my personality, for they have a place in me, and denying them is shutting down a portion of myself.

Who I am is a mix of attributes, negative and positive and everything in between, and I like that I feel the personal freedom to make room for everyone at the table. I'm not so choosy and discriminating anymore. I don't sit in harsh judgement on others like I used to, and therefore I have more grace for myself. I see the stuff that isn't so pleasant to look at within myself, but I also see the good qualities, and I'm learning to embrace all of it. Who I am is the sum total of all of the parts, and everything has a part to play if I will recognize that it lives within me, and that it has a right to be there.

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