You want to be seen as put-together, maybe even perfect. Sure, you know there’s no such thing. And yet you yearn for it anyway. You sacrifice and hustle for the facade.
You want to be seen as productive, as the person who completes their to-do list, no matter what. Through sickness and exhaustion, you are still efficient. Effective. Because you don’t live by excuses. (Or might those “excuses” really be needs…)
You want to be seen as confident and secure. You are not bothered by criticism or rejection. You yearn to walk into a room and not feel like a hideous creature. Not feel like that awkward 15-year-old who never seemed to belong.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
You want to be seen as strong and self-reliant. You don’t need anyone’s help.
You also don’t cry.
You want to be seen as someone who rarely slips up. Very rarely.
You want to be seen as active and fit. You work out regularly, rain or shine. Because you are committed, whether you actually enjoy it or not.
You curate your social media presence. It’s not so much that you’re a private person. Rather, you want to portray someone who’s different. Someone who’s carefree, cool, always cheerful. Someone who leads an uncomplicated, tidy life. A life with sparkling counters and the hard stuff put away. Far, far away.
Maybe you want to be seen as agreeable. A good girl. Or maybe you prefer wearing a tough exterior. No one can hurt you. No one can crack your shell.
But aren’t you exhausted? Just a little bit?
Because it’s OK if you are. It would make sense. Because it is exhausting to shield yourself from others. It is exhausting to wear so many masks that you’re not sure which one you’re putting on today. It is exhausting to try to do everything without much, if any, rest. Without any real self-care. Without acknowledging your needs. Without tuning in to how you’re actually doing.
It is exhausting to be someone you’re not. It’s exhausting to hold yourself to sky-high standards.
What would happen if you traded in your armor for something a bit softer? What if you took it off completely? At least around your closest people? What if you revealed the real you? In small, safe ways? What if you shared how you’re really feeling? What if you admitted that you just don’t feel well? What if you made an appointment with a therapist? (Which takes strength. A whole lot of strength.) What if you took some time to reconnect to yourself, like exploring what makes you come alive and then engaging in it? What if you let yourself be you?
These may not be easy questions. They may not have easy answers. But what a beautiful, empowering process you can begin.