I’m learning to release the beliefs in this life that once kept me tethered. Perhaps, the most confining of these beliefs was the one that placed a large amount of importance on what others might think of me.
I’ve spent a good part of my life in work that goes hand-in-hand with public critique and opinion: television ratings and rankings, book reviews, and feedback down to the color of my blouse. It’s part of the territory.
I’ve been told that I’m too humble with my words; that my writing needs more sex appeal and less God appeal. I’ve been judged, by some, for being an adoptee who has also adopted. And, judged, by others, for writing books that express a beauty in adoption. I’ve been celebrated for my writing, and I’ve been castigated. I’ve learned a lot about life, through the experiences of both.
The work that I do is a solid reminder that I cannot be, nor was I ever made to be, all things to all people. We live in a diverse world: as individual and unique as our fingerprints. We were not created for sameness. We’ll be misunderstood, from time to time. We don’t have to agree on politics, on religion, on healthcare…or on anything at all for that matter.
I do believe, however, that we should respect one another. Respect our differences. Commit to understanding…or, at least giving it our best shot. It’s in the willingness to find an understanding where we take in differing opinions and learn from them. We don’t have to adhere to them, but there is always something that we can discover. There’s always opportunity to grow beyond what might be a limiting thought.
You see, I want to learn from people who are different from me. I want to be wide open in this way. What I cannot do is sacrifice my own truth. I would not ask that of anyone.
There was a time when I did diminish my truth; it was in an effort to please others. I saw people-pleasing as a way to stay safe: from abandonment, rejection, and disapproval. I kept quiet so as not to displease — all in the hope that I might be accepted and loved. Only, that’s not real love, or real acceptance. Real love and acceptance is found in the embracing of another person even when they don’t think, act, or look like you do.
Pleasing, at all costs, offers only a frail and conditional type of relationship. Pleasing neither sustains nor grows connection, to one’s own self or to another. It’s not near as valuable as looking into someone’s eyes and listening; hearing them for who they are and for what their individual story brings to the table of life.
As much as people-pleasing began, for me, as an honest way of staying safe as a child…it deteriorated into behavior that stripped me of my own sense of self; of worth; of voice. I silenced my truth. For years, I didn’t share the thoughts that I treasured the most.
That’s all changed now, though. I no longer believe that the voices “out there” are the ones that matter the most. I believe that the voice within me is the one that deserves top-priority. It’s my one and only guide. The voice within is where I connect with God; it’s where I can hear the very whispers of my own soul.
This woman has come to learn that outside chatter matters very little. When I focus on God and the voice within me; all other noise seems to disappear like grains of sand on the breeze. What is left is me; standing authentically in the beautiful truth of who I am, what I am here to say, and who I am here to serve.
I care about love.
I care about acceptance.
You see, I care deeply about people. That’s never changed. I care about relationship; one on one connection. I care about looking into the eyes of my children and being present. I care about real and respectful dialogue.
I care about truth.
What I cannot concern myself with is hate, anger, accusation, or judgement. I cannot live within the confines of appeasement. I no longer am a people-pleaser in this way. I’m not here to please the opinions that have no names and no faces. I’ve been freed from that dark place.
I know what matters most.
I’m here, just like you — beautiful souls — to stand firmly in truth. A truth that can weather the storms of disapproval and come out on the other side whole and authentic. A truth that will not succumb to outside pressures, but is rooted from a place of inner strength and divine guidance. A truth that seeks to honor a higher power, and seeks not to please the opinions of the world.
It’s the voice within us, the very voice of God, that matters most.
There’s freedom in this place. And, it’s breathtaking…