When we are young we will do anything we can to fit in: we want to be liked and accepted, so we’ll dress like our friends, talk like them, agree with them (even if we don’t), etc. Then as we age, we have the desire to be different and unique, unlike any other that has come before us. We want to stand out. Or do we?
Some people have no desire to stand out, and that’s okay too. There is power in diversity. But the pressure to be one way or another is so strong, it can cause intense inner turmoil. In the last few years there has been a lot of focus in the news and media on bullying among kids for being different. A person can get stuck in their head, creating layers of fears and complexes on top of their true self. Over time this can result in an unintentional hiding of the core being, making it difficult to relate and connect with others in true intimacy. This hiding may not be apparent and we may feel alone or isolated, not understanding why we aren’t being seen or heard by those around us.
These layers, masks or complexes need understanding and compassion, because they were acquired to help us, to protect us when we felt in danger. But as we mature and cultivate healthy adult relationships, we can start to let these layers go or put them up on a shelf (along with that high school yearbook). Taking each one, listening to it and saying “thank you,” we can begin to loosen and remove each layer; slowly and safely allowing our true, authentic self to be seen and loved by those closest to us.