Thursday, October 8, 2009

You let me be Me.

The above statement is one that a friend recently told me in a long, enjoyable phone conversation. I think that it has to be one of the most lovely compliments I have ever received. This particular friendship began early last summer while I was researching whether to go back to school and finish a degree. I was investigating online options for same and was assigned this guy as my advisor. The school option is currently tabled for a variety of reasons, but I suspect the true energy at hand was to connect me with this new person on a friendship level. Serendipity at its finest!

So, over the course of that lengthy phone chat, we were discussing mundane topics as well as deep, personal ones. At some point, my friend said, "You know, one thing I find to be of great value about you is that you let me be Me." I admit to getting a bit choked up as a result, because it was such a beautiful thing to recognize and to comment upon.

I think we have all had people in our lives who choose to not accept us for who we are. It seems to be a curious goal for many to change those in their personal sphere. The why of that escapes me. I don't know that I've ever wanted to change anyone to suit my own personal needs. I admit to choosing to to not spend time around people that rub me the wrong way - that is just a logical step to take. If, however, there is something that I don't love about someone, but I genuinely care about the person, that "don't love" trait doesn't matter all that much. I'm more interested in celebrating the happy coincidences, sharing ideas and growing from the relationships I engage in.

At times, those traits that conflict will provide equal chances for growth, and I make an concerted effort to be open to those moments. You honestly never know when a random connection will grow into a beautiful friendship. Therefore, rather than looking for carbon copies of myself, I find true joy in relationships that push me to look at life from sometimes wildly different perspectives. This particular friend I am referencing returns that same gift to me when we talk, as he is one of those rare birds as well....he lets me be Me. In fact, when I sit quietly and review those around me, I am humbled by the fact that I have quite of few of those rare birds that I claim as true friends. I think that partiuclar flock is growing exponentially of late.

So as to not sound as though I'm blowing my own horn overly much, let me state that I am far from a paragon of virtue. I have grumpy moments fairly often, and there are plenty of times I don't immediately recognize what is directly in front of me. At times, it takes me a while to discover those delightful nuances about a friend. We all hide our true selves to a great degree on a daily basis. Does this mean we don't ever really know the people we spend time with? That is very possibly true. It is also one of the great joys of life, that constant growth and discovery process that it gives to us as individuals. Do I show every person that crosses my path my deepest, hidden thoughts? Of course not. Do I engage deeply with every person I speak with on a daily basis? No, although I strive to make each connection an honest moment, and give it my full focus. In that manner, you could call it a deep connection.

It is logical to utilize those social masks in order to navigate your way through the chaos of any given day. If we all chose to walk around as open, raw wounds, spewing our fears, worries and challenges at every person we see, nothing would get accomplished. So, yes, those social masks serve a purpose to keep things and people on a sort of surface level. Occasionally, you will cross paths with a unique person who, despite that same type of social mask, radiates an energy that just makes you feel good.

I'm sure that upon reading that last sentence, someone pops immediately to mind for you. That person in the grocery store who always seems happy, or regularly offers a comment that just makes you smile. That co-worker who always seems to sparkle and exude a sense of calm even in the most chaotic, jumbled board room meetings. That friend who regularly makes statements that have you pausing and considering life from an angle that might not have occurred to you, and you always find yourself richer for that new perspective. These are people, I feel, who have chosen to approach life with a conscious thought process. They have made a conscious choice to be that best version of themselves possible each day.

Do they have fears, worries and problems at home? Of a certainty - we all do. These people, however, have reached a level of awareness that concentrating on positive thoughts serves them in an equally positive manner. I know, this probably sounds like Mary Poppins 101 to some of you. That was actually one of my nicknames in high school years - I seem to have always been determined to see the good side of life, people and situations. Does this mean I float around in a pink bubble of naive expectations? Not at all. It does mean that I choose to keep a firm grip on my rose colored glasses, that much I'll admit!

I have mused, often over the years, that we are born with those proverbial rose colored glasses and they're tinted a rich, deep hue. As we grow, learn and progress, layers do get peeled off those glasses. Some might suggest that by the time we reach adult status, those glasses are useless and the rose color has been ruthlessly stripped away. I disagree. My own glasses tend to have cycles where the rose color dims a wee bit here and there, but for the most part, they seem to retain a good strong pink tint. I like that about my glasses. I don't feel that this perspective causes me to view the world and people in an unrealistic manner. Quite the opposite, in fact. I feel that those proverbial glasses give me a decided edge. Cue this recent phone conversation with my friend who made that lovely statement, and I found myself gently reminded that with conscious thought and embracing vital differences in the people around us, we can give a gift of priceless value.

How wonderful to know I affected just one person in such a positive way, that he felt absolutely comfortable and at ease with opening up and being completely, authentically his true self when we speak. This offered me a mirror of myself and a nod from that Higher Power that, "Hey, you're doing a good job!" I know that I felt uplifted and happy as a result, which in turn let me know quite clearly that I'm on a straight path. As always, our emotions are that true reflection of how we're doing. I think I'm doing pretty well. I have built relationships that support me and encourage me in positive ways, allowing me to be my most authentic self. I have also remained open to new relationships, and as a result, my personal experiences are so rich and full of growth that I marvel at times.

When I have those days where the dark, brooding thoughts attempt to slide insidiously close, I recall this conversation with my good friend and remember who I am. By embracing others and being open to accepting them on an elemental level, the returning energy and experiences are enormous. The world opens up in a manner that is truly astounding, and you are given the same gift in be your most authentic self. Pretty darned cool lesson to contemplate!

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