There’s this version of me that I want to be. I’m not talking about the perfect thigh, smooth skin, shiny hair version, though that would be nice! I’m talking about the authentic version of me, the one that satisfies all the wants and desires that lay hidden in deep crevices somewhere in my head. I’m not even aware of all of these “wants” because I’ve pushed them so deep in the need to fulfill all of the things that must be done: putting my kids first, being a good wife, trying to be there for my friends, maintaining my house, saving for retirement…you know, all of those adult responsibilities. But here’s the thing… slowly, as I grow older, more and more of these hidden wants are shaken loose.
I could be listening to the words of a song, watching a commercial, reading a book or just sitting on my front porch with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and one will sneak out and explode in front of my, like a firework. And just as quickly it will disappear. Still, it leaves behind an impression, a feeling, that stays with me. I find myself doing things that bring me closer to enjoying that feeling on a more permanent basis. Things like spending more time outdoors, going to more concerts, sitting on the floor and playing with my dogs, hosting holidays with my very large family (eight siblings!) or indulging in my love of coffee (one of God’s great gifts to mankind).
I think this explains why, as I age, I become far more comfortable with myself and, over time, inch a little closer to the authentic me. This is not to say that I’ve been faking it my whole life or, at least, not intentionally. I’ve just been being a responsible adult. I had laundry to do, errands to run, food to cook, all of which kept me from dropping to the floor with my dogs. I didn’t drink coffee because it makes it difficult to detect breast lumps and I’m at high risk for breast cancer. But oh, do I love the taste of coffee. And the money I would spend on concerts could be used for other, more tangible, things like the paying the electric bill.
I also think this explains why people lose their filters as they age. Because, at the end of the day, we all want to be liked for exactly who we are. And, whether we like it or not, time is not infinite. If we want to be loved and accepted for our true selves, the number of years we have to accomplish that goal is dwindling faster than we thought possible. So, I make snarkier comments than I used to, more bad jokes, more sexual references. Or I strike back (and not always well) when someone hurts me. Because these are the parts of me I fear that people will reject and I want to test the waters. It doesn’t scare me to be so open, the way it might have at twenty-five or thirty, because the alternative—people not knowing the real me—is even scarier.
What about you? Are you one of those brave souls who always lives your life on your terms or do you hold some things back for fear of rejection?