The other day was rough, for a few reasons. Miss J lives just a few blocks from my college alum. So I was hiding out by a lesser used entrance behind one of the buildings playing a game on my phone, and playing my praise and worship Pandora station. I was mooching their WiFi and totally zoning out.
Then a professor came by to enter that building. This professor had never personally taught me, but my school is small and he recognized me. He asked me how I was doing. Without even thinking, I put on my most fake smile and said “I’m doing good.”
Something in my voice gave it all away, and very frankly he said, “That sounds like a lie.”
I had this jarring moment of being seen.
You see I’m introverted, prone to over thinking, and have developed as a listener above everything. Sometimes I forget that others are listeners too, more I forget sometimes people don’t have to know you well to care. It’s so easy to toss on a mask. I didn’t immediately bare my soul, but I told him the truth. I’d been having a rough morning and was just zoning out until I had to go to work.
We talked a little longer, before we parted ways and wished good things for each others days, but I was so struck by that moment. I felt so visible. It meant so much when I had been feeling so blah.
I struggle to let myself be seen even in more intimate settings. My husband and I have been going to a Sunday night Bible study for weeks, but this week due to this seemingly simple question. What have been moments in your life you felt like God called you? I dug in and shared some of my story. It was draining, but it was also life giving.
Somehow allowing yourself to be vulnerable, honest, visible, is seemingly so easy: talking, something we do dozens of times a day–and yet we keep things often so shallow. Or at least I do.
I am so grateful for that professor for not letting me get away with putting on a mask, is it really so dangerous to let someone know my day isn’t going great? I don’t want it to be.
I hope that no matter where you go you can be your truest self*, whether you’re happy, sad or something else and that others will call you out on it when you try to put on a mask.
You need to be seen, you matter so much.
*I hope to explore in the near future other facets of being our true selves (something so integral to your 20s more than a lot of other life phases, I think), I’m hoping this is the start of something good. Especially because for many of us it’s only in our 20s that we feel we can safely start being our true selves since it’s often the first time we’re out of our parent’s homes or hometowns.