Do you remember when you were a child, you couldn’t help but be yourself?
You might have been excitable, curious, trusting, and openly loving – uninhibited by the burdens of the world.
But along the way, things happened that impacted your sense of self, and how you interacted with those around you.
People laughed at your ideas, or the questions you asked, the way you liked to wear your hair, or the things that excited you.
Things that you had never questioned, because they were quintessentially you, became things that caused you shame.
Eventually you learned to shield yourself from that feeling, and the harshness, or carelessness, of others that could make you feel that way. You started to build yourself a shell, realising that there are parts of yourself that should be hidden away in order to protect yourself from that shame.
We ‘grow up’, and cloak ourselves in layers as we go. We ‘preserve’ ourselves, but somehow lose ourselves in the process. We repress those things which bring us most joy and growth, because we are taught, through the actions and behaviours of others, that these things that speak to our hearts and satisfy our developing minds, are things that will expose us to humiliation.
It happens to some of us more than others. It also affects some of us more than others. But it happens to all of us, at one stage or another.
And we are all guilty of doing this to others too.
We become adults, and we try to find these qualities all over again – the ability to find beauty in everything, the desire to learn as much as we can about the world around us, the unconscious enjoyment and fearless pursuit of the things that light a fire in our hearts.
But, what if we never had to lose it in the first place? What if it was never something we had to gain back? What if we could carry these qualities into our workplaces and our relationships with others?
What if we taught our children the importance of not only accepting race, religion, and gender, but also accepting the quirks and the nuances that make each of us so immeasurably different and so incredibly fascinating? So that, as they grew, they would build each other up, learning from each other and relying on each other for their unique skills, all finding independence in their differences and belonging through their similarities.
Imagine the achievements of a generation that are never taught to hide the complexities of their personalities away, and were instead acknowledged for their strengths, accepted in spite of their weaknesses, and uplifted in growth.
Imagine what you might be doing today, if you had never been taught to hide.