We watched Aladdin recently with our kids, and the phrase "diamond in the rough" stood out to me. I'm familiar with this concept when it comes to writing, as you end up polishing your work through re-writes until the diamond that you hoped was always buried in there begins to shine, but I also think of it now in terms of my life. We all have a beautiful diamond inside of us, but over the years and the wounds we sustain, it can become hard to locate through the rough of the garbage all around it.
So much of our teen years and our adulthood is about cloaking ourselves; covering up with more layers so that we won't be hurt as often or as viciously. We end up burying our true selves, the diamond that is meant to shine and be visible to others, because we are afraid of being mocked or hurt or insulted. We learn to protect ourselves, but in that process we end up hiding from who we really are.
I have been polishing at my diamond for a long time now, trying to see who I really am when I take down my carefully constructed walls. I did need to protect myself, but I'm in a different place now than I was as a child. I don't need the same ten foot walls. I am loved for who I am in many of the relationships I am in, and I had to slowly build up my belief in myself so I felt worthy of the love I was receiving. I needed to find my way back to myself, and not hide away in fear, but come on out into the light where I could be myself.
I have hurt others and I have been hurt. It's inevitable in this life. But for me, there is no more pretending, and no more contorting to be someone else. I am me, and I want to be me, and I am a diamond in the rough. Every one of us has amazing potential, but a big part of our job is to clear away the rubble so we can actually see who we are and what we are capable of. When you get tiny glimpses of your diamond, the beauty of what you have to offer will take your breath away.
There are so many possibilities in this life, available to all of us, if we will only be brave enough to try. It's never easy to go outside of what is comfortable for us, but when we do, life only gets better. It doesn't have to stay the way its been. If you don't like aspects of who you are or the life you are living, it's up to you to change it. You are responsible only for yourself, no one else, and that knowledge alone has freed me up to live without the handcuffs of worry stopping me every which way I turned.
We are all diamonds in the rough. We were meant to shine and inspire with our beauty and simplicity, not hide ourselves away because we are afraid of how we'll be received. Life is short, and we only get one shot at it. Now I want to make it count, as much as I can, by being fully myself.
I would rather be a first rate version of myself, instead of the second rate version of someone else that I was for much of my life (a loose interpretation of a wonderful Judy Garland quote). There is only one of you, and being as much yourself as you possibly can is the best way I know to be unique and memorable, and to leave a lasting impression on this world.