Monday 12 March 2012

On Not Being The One

Something special for you today.  A guest post by someone I love and admire hugely.  I met T.L. Tyson on Authonomy (yes, that place has a lot to answer for!) soon after I joined. In fact, I read her book, Seeking Eleanor and nearly left straight away as I figured I had no hope if all the writing was as good as that.  We’ve been in touch now for, what? Three years?  She’s smart, funny, fun, quick as a whip, heart-tearingly honest and wise.  
I would strongly advise you read her blog, watch her vlog and, if you happen to be an agent or publisher with any sense whatsoever, nab her quick. You can also catch her on Twitter (@TL_Tyson) and Facebook.
Anyhow, I asked if she’d like to write a guest post and this is what she sent me this morning…and it sent a tingle down my spine as, just like always, she has hit the nail on the head..  

On Not Being The One – T.L. Tyson
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve hated disappointing people. Even now, as an adult, it hurts to let someone down. This isn’t a feeling specific to me. Humans have this tendency to want to please others, especially the ones they care about, and when they don’t feelings of not being good enough surface, often against our will.  
Recently, I’ve been mulling, which is never a good thing, but it’s allowed me to come to terms with not being the one. Oh, no, this isn’t about romance or love or fairytale weddings, this is about expectations and trying to change for others. This is about who we are, and who others want us to be.  
All through growing up, we desperately want to find our identities. In theory, being ourselves is easy. In reality, it’s one of the hardest things to do. Often, we’re encouraged to dress, act and think as individuals, to walk our own paths, as long as it isn’t too extreme.
A lot of us struggle to find who we are, searching through our twenties, even our forties, and, sadly, some of us never figure it out. Still, we keep at it. We put the time, energy, and work into learning to like our reflections. The path can be tedious, but it’s worth it to accept our flaws, our idiosyncrasies, and embrace the person inside us. To love who we are, in order to allow others to love us back. 
Except, sometimes people love us for who we aren’t. For who they think we are.
Let me explain.
People have expectations. Friends, lovers, siblings, mothers, fathers, spouses and even acquaintances all have desires, needs, and dreams, both of themselves and of each other. And, when we don’t live up to their standards, ideals, or hopes, it’s crushing—for both parties. But the truth is, we cannot control how others want us to be.
 In the last year, there have been several instances where people have wanted me to be someone I’m not. Someone who may vaguely resemble me, but who lacks the same morals, thoughts, aspirations, and reacts differently than I do. The hardest part is feeling inadequate, like I’ve mislead them into thinking I might be the girl they longed for, the friend they always wanted, the lover they never thought they’d find. Human nature is a tricky thing. Above everything else, we want someone to get us, understand who we are, and we will do anything to feel that connection, even idealize them.
The most frustrating part is, I’ve done it myself. In the past, I’ve glorified  people and tricked myself into thinking they have qualities they don’t, because it was what I wanted. This is wrong. I don’t want to make someone out to be something they’re not. And I don’t want someone making me out to be something I’m not. It’s okay to have expectations of ourselves, but having them of other people is a dangerous business. It’s a hurtful one.
Earlier this week, I wrote something down on a scrap piece of paper. One sentence that said, “I’m sorry I’m not the girl you wanted me to be.”
They are simple words, but they make me ache, because it hurts to realize you aren’t enough, especially because we spend so much time trying to figure out who we are. It’s gutting when other people simply can’t accept you for you. It’s hard not to take it personally, and even harder to move past.  
The feelings of inadequacy are pointless, though. We need to let go of feeling insufficient because we cannot change to please someone else. It’s better to be ourselves and without, than with someone and pretending to be something we’re not. After brooding over this, I realized there is only one way forward. Acceptance. We need to accept others for who they are, in hopes they will grant us the same luxury. Above all, we need to accept ourselves, and embrace who we aren’t. 


Blaylock said...

This is so true, after a bout in therapy because I was not the one, I became aware of self, aware of others and their needs their wants and realised that we are all children, we never grow up, some become aware, others live in a personal world not of their own making, but of society and family, Tyson is right but the hurt still excists even when we realise it should not... We are all on a journey a few the fortunate one can feel the bumps in the road, the less fortunate cannot, but stll we journey together and live in a preordained world of happenstance...

Unknown said...

Thanks for a wonderful and honest post. A special guest on a special writer’s blog.
I believe that one of the central aspects of approaching happiness in adulthood is forgiving oneself for all the diverse crimes that have been delivered upon us in childhood by others, leaving us scared and scarred. One of the most powerful scenes I’ve ever encountered in cinema is in the film Good Will Hunting when Sean confronts Will in his office:

Sean: Will, you see this, all this shit?
[Holds up the file, and drops it on his desk]
Sean: It's not your fault.
Will: [Softly, still staring off] I know...
Sean: No you don't. It's not your fault.
Will: [Serious] I know.
Sean: No. Listen to me son. It's not your fault.
Will: I know that.
Sean: It's not your fault.
[Will is silent, eyes closed]
Sean: It's not your fault.
Will: [Will's eyes open, misty already] Don't fuck with me Sean. Not you.
Sean: It's not your fault.
[Will shoves Sean back, and then, hands trembling, buries his face in his hands. Will begins sobbing. Sean puts his hands on Will's shoulders, and Will grabs him and holds him close, crying]
Will: Oh my God! I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry Sean!
[Will continues sobbing in Sean's arms]

Forgive yourself for all the mistakes, all the times you have fallen short, for when you felt that you have disappointed others by not living up to their expectations. And forgive those around you. That doesn’t mean accepting weakness or failure; it means acknowledging your (and others) inherent humanity, accepting and embracing it, and then moving on, transcending guilt.
It’s not your fault; it’s not anybody’s fault – it’s everybody’s.

Andrew. said...

I can relate to it all. Tee and i fell out because of the fact that neither of us could be what they other wanted, or maybe needed at the time. She is a passionate friend who will defend someone like a she-wolf. I am a passionate soul who feels hurt very deeply when i think I am being misunderstood. ...but you know something I have come to realise, in this virtual world as well as the one beyond here; I'm not such a great guy as I once thought I was. Some people genuinely don't like me. Oh those that were unpleasant from the begining you can accept, and expect... its when it comes from people you thought knew you and liked you, even loved you, when they tell you that there are things about you that are very hard to like... well, that is like a knife to the guts.

And yeah, like Tee said, I would do almost anything to win them back to my-side, to love me again. But then - and it is so very painful - even when you are 48 years old, to accept that to some people in this world you are human Marmite. It hurts like hell.

Milla said...

Good post, thank you. I tend to think of others all the time. Not merely out of some saintly thing (bow down in awe), but because it lets me off the hook of following through on any responsibility to my putative potential. Also because it feeds my vanity and makes me feel good about myself being Mrs Nice. Creepy, huh. Only way to get through some phases of life though. And anyway, it keeps life interesting this finding things out about oneself. When you were little it was all Happy ever After at about 19. It's good to know the uncovering and teeth-gnashing and getting it wrong goes on.
Oh God, now for the 2 bloody words which I can never quite see and make me want to stab something.

Unknown said...

Haha ! Milla, how I do hate ‘those two word’s, too – glad that I’m not alone in wanting to tear something to shreds when they pop up!
Love all the different views here. The mind is a house of many rooms. (oh, god, here come the words again)

Sessha Batto said...

For many many many years (nearly half a century) I tried reinventing myself over and over in hopes of being the one that people would accept, admire, like, even love. It doesn't work. Fundamentally we are who we are, trying to change that for someone else only makes you both unhappy. Now I proudly acknowledge who I am, and accept that, at best, I'm an acquired taste. When people choose not to accept that I move on - saddened at times, but with my head held high. There is nothing wrong with being who you are, I only wish I'd realized in a few decades ago!

Anonymous said...

Good job, Tyson.
Good job in deed.
And re member... I love you for who you are... and for who you are not.

Noelle Pierce said...

This was a lovely post, and so poignant in my life right now. As someone who wants people to like me, I end up keeping my opinions and personality under wraps, and it's incredibly difficult to keep all those people happy. I pride myself on getting along with most, and as I've gotten older, I've been able to let go of those whom I don't get along with as well. Slowly. God, I look back on my teenage and college years and realize I made a lot of bad decisions, just to be the person others wanted me to be. If I knew then what I know now...but looking back and having regrets is a waste of time, too.

For now, though, I'm very happy to have found a handful of people who love me, even if they see my glaring faults.

Dump Him Love said...

I have a habit of picking up young friends who see in me the mother they wished they'd had. I appear to have answers. I'm good at listening and at telling them how good they are. I guess you could say the social me is way nicer than the real me. I share this but often the myth persists. I still feel the pain of not being the chosen one in childhood but when I am that seems to be a much scarier proposition?

Fennie said...

A Martian might us three questions: who am I? who are you? and who are all those other people? Sometimes we are Martians. But in answering the first question we must be careful not to forget the other two. And in answering the other two, we must be careful not to avoid answering the one. As always we learn that life is messy, complicated, unpredictable, unfair, while everyone, including our inner selves, is mutable. We might as well drag feathers through treacle. But the world is still a place of great beauty and love abounds in the most unlikely places if one only looks for it.

Bradley Wind said...

Your city to burn!
Your city to burn!

I love to watch these ladies fly up out...ashes wafting.
I wonder what they smell like?

Anonymous said...

Sounding like Keith Richards, Brad.