‘Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’
– Oscar Wilde
I stood before my new office today. I didn’t dive in. I didn’t walk in. I chose instead, to take a deep breath – it was a funny mix of sour plums and new furniture. I looked around and wondered, ‘Who will I be here, in this new department?’
The move was scheduled to take place two weeks ago and to be honest, I was glad for the delay. I don’t think I was prepared nor ready to say goodbye to my old team. I was already managing my new portfolio (and having great fun with the work) in my old office, but to be cocooned in this new room with a whole new bunch of people required… new dynamics.
‘Oh god…’ I thought to myself, ‘It took us years in the previous team to get thoroughly comfortable with each other – our weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and bad habits – and the journey was a very meaningful one; albeit very painful at times. Now, I have to start all over again?’
I turned and walked away. I wasn’t quite sure who I could be in the new team.
Who am I?
If I was a flower – I’d be a daisy. Or a dusty pink rose.
If I was a song – I’d be a compilation album because I don’t think I can live one tune for the rest of my life.
If I was paper – I’d be the rough brown type, the kind they use to wrap parcels. Nothing fancy but always ready to be inked, written on, decorated. And if I were string, I’d be brown twine and make the knots somehow, look beautiful.
But who am I really?
People have described me as intimidating, confident, unique, private, liberal, even funny. At the core of it all though… I think I’m just a woman who treasures the little girl within her. I don’t ever want to lose that fascination with life. I don’t want to forget the miracle of another day, alive. I want to laugh easily and be able to cry too, if I feel like it.
I just want to be real.
And I’m still searching for that, every day.
You see, from birth, I was taught to act a certain way, behave appropriately because ‘what would people think?‘ So this cycle of wondering if people could accept who I was got deeply ingrained in my system and before I knew it, I created this ‘person’ that I felt I ought to be.
At 15, I was the rebellious one with the navel piercing, low-riding pants and filthy mouth.
At 16, I was the indie/hippie chick who listened to The Smiths, Jimi Hendrix and any other obscure band, expounding on philosophy whenever she could.
At 17, I was the clubber.
At 18, I was the sensible, practical one. The one who ‘obeyed the rules’ that society set. Deep in my heart, I didn’t need to ‘break free’ from the rules but there was a hunger to be me. Still, I hid it behind smiles and perfect words for the right occasions. Eventually though, it all broke apart. How long can we try to be someone else?
Finally, at 26, I began my journey to live life free from my deepest fear, ‘What would people think?‘ It was painful, immeasurably so. Everything I understood about life was taken away, every belief, challenged.
I still remember the night when I sat alone on the kitchen floor, spent from crying. With barely any strength left to lift my head, I asked again… ‘Who am I?’ and in the quietness, I heard the Dream Maker’s gentle whisper, ‘You’re mine.’
It wasn’t about identities. It was about whose Name I carried and therefore, what was already bestowed on me.
Back in the office, I plugged in some music and began packing away years of my life into boxes. Carting them into the new place, it became easier and easier to view the items in the boxes as that – landmarks. They didn’t declare my person but instead, were mere recognitions of how far along this journey I’d come.
‘Let’s play ball!’ I suddenly piped up. The whole team turned around and as we chatted, we tossed that little stress ball around. Then I called for a song break and we began singing… or at least, I did. And when I was hungry, I stopped mid-way, sat on my desk and ate, watching the rest do their work. Needing a stretch, I decided to cart the flight cases down to the other office and asked JapGirl to push me while I sat on top. She willingly obliged (god bless her darling heart). It no longer mattered if people were watching or if I was in a corporate organization. I wanted to be free… to be me.
I was laughing again.
‘I could hear you singing all the way from where I was!’ A colleague told me.
‘Oh no! Did anyone complain?’ I gasped. Reality hit me. Darn it, there were managers all around the office.
‘No… it was nice. Somehow, the atmosphere felt more alive,’ she answered.
I still need to get used to being myself. It’s extraordinarily hard… but damn… it’s good fun.