So my kids have started doing this thing. Every evening before bath time – after we take their clothes off before they get into the tub – they run around the apartment like crazed feral wild cats. Screaming and laughing.
Pure unadulterated joy.
It got me thinking about the clothes we wear, metaphorically speaking.
A kid doesn’t question why we walk around with clothes on (when you live in Singapore, there’s a good argument not to). They simply follow the herd to blend it. Because that’s the safest bet.
It’s for the same reason they imitate our actions. As much as I tell them not to act like the giant ass hat I am, they do anyway.
As adults, we’re no different with the character armour we assume. The social conditioning we’ve all undergone to varying cultural degrees. There’s a code of conduct we must follow.
For women, that’s typically something along the lines of never speak up. Always look pretty. Be perfect. Don’t over step your mark.
For men it’s something like don’t cry. Man the fuck up. Never ask for help. Figuring it out on your own or drown trying.
Of course, it’s all bullshit.
It’s all clothes we’re told to wear so we don’t make each other feel uncomfortable. Because who wants to deal with someone else’s vulnerabilities? I’m having enough trouble preventing people from seeing my own.
Thank you very much.
I wonder, though, what are we so afraid of? Of upsetting someone else? Why? That’s their problem, not yours.
But that’s not it.
What we’re really scared of is being vulnerable – of feeling exposed. We want nothing more than to be seen, heard, and accepted for who we are.
What we fear most is rejection.
We’re scared of being laughed at and ridiculed. We’re afraid of having our hearts stamped on.
But what happens if we say fuck this? If, despite our fears, we remove our clothes and let who we are all hang out, warts and all?
We may get laughed at and ridiculed. If you are, that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
It might mean you need new friends!
At any rate, it’s a risk we have to be willing to take. If only to find out who are friends and family really are.
The truth is the character armour we can carry around is far heavier than the clothes we wear on our backs. We can only carry it for so long before it weighs us down.
That’s why we need to be around the people who will let us take it off – who will accept us when we do. (Even if they can’t help but laugh sometimes.)
The reward of course is the feeling of aliveness. The feeling of running free. The feeling of pure unadulterated joy.
You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://wiseandshinezine.com
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