I relentlessly endeavoured to conform to society, likening myself to a rock struggling to fit into a bottle. However, despite my efforts, I eventually crumbled into mere grains of sand carried away by the wind. My beliefs impelled me to expose myself to the scrutiny of an audience, subjected to examination from every angle as if solely for my flaws and imperfections. At times, I appeared smooth and gentle from one perspective, while another viewpoint exposed sharp edges that led to labelling and categorization. Naively, I held the belief that the mirror reflected my true self and that others saw me in the same light. Yet, those who observed me could only perceive me through their own lenses and perspectives.

I found it unsurprising that some individuals found me radiant, while others were unsettled by the darkness within themselves that my presence stirred. I shared brief moments in time with others, but each person only glimpsed a single episode from the vast narrative of my life. How could I convince someone of my beauty through a solitary act when they couldn’t witness the entirety of my journey? My patience and interest waned when my observations failed to align with my preconceived patterns, and I longed for perfection while neglecting the decay within my inner self. I realized the importance of embracing the ability to see the beauty in others at any given moment, recognizing that flaws and imperfections possessed their own distinct allure. It became clear that my essence was not defined by perfection but by the freedom to authentically be myself in every phase of life, unafraid of rejection.

When I no longer fit within a group or outgrew my circle of friends, I learned to navigate a new path that resonated with my current self. As winds and rain gradually eroded my beliefs and washed away old patterns, I found myself unfamiliar with the archetypes I once knew, and my expectations naturally shifted in response.

“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”

― Donald Miller

I used to be consumed by how others perceived me, often neglecting to reconnect with my true self. Right from birth, I was assigned labels based on my race, religion, and social status, and without question, I embraced them without considering the possibility of change. I was taught to conform and follow societal rules, fearing the judgment that would accompany any display of improper behaviour. But who were the ones passing judgment? Were they the same people who initially placed me on a pedestal only to later attack me with criticism? Or were they individuals who only showed affection when they needed something from me?

My longing for acceptance and my adherence to societal norms overshadowed my understanding of my authentic self. I grappled with the dilemma of whether the face I presented to the world truly represented my identity or if it was merely a mask I wore to fit in with specific groups or conform to certain standards. I hesitated to stand up for my rights, fearing the stigma of being labeled as rebellious. I was afraid to openly share my sexual desires, worried about being misunderstood. I concealed my true financial situation to avoid judgment based on my friends and family. I strove to portray perfection in my social media posts, only to let the pretence fade once the picture was taken. I experienced an inner conflict, bombarded by thoughts that obscured my true self, leaving me struggling to answer the question: Who am I?

Above all, I was beautiful just as I was, possessing all the qualities needed to radiate and feel complete. Behind the masks I wore, there were wounds, scars, insecurities, and flaws. I carried the inherited beliefs of past generations upon my shoulders. Nonetheless, my strength endured even in the darkest moments, empowering me to thrive and rise above challenges. I became my own role model, embracing my uniqueness and individuality, while aligning my expectations with the pursuit of authenticity. The most difficult realization was that beneath the mask lay a lost soul unable to recognize its own beauty.

“If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? What if the face you showed the world turned out to be a mask… with nothing beneath it?”

― Jodi Picoult

I was an adult, consumed by my responsibilities, only to realize that deep down, I was still a grown-up child with my fair share of tantrums and frustrations. I strived to conform to societal norms, maintain a good image within my family, and give my best in every aspect of life. My entire focus revolved around enhancing my image and meeting the expectations imposed upon me. I dedicated tremendous effort to upholding moral values and mustering the strength to overcome life’s challenges, inadvertently neglecting the simple joys that make life worth living.

I forgot how to play and experience unadulterated joy, becoming overly preoccupied with how others perceived my version of the truth. I allowed external influences to shape my decisions, often choosing paths that appeared to lead to happiness, but in reality, left me feeling unfulfilled. Even during moments when everything seemed to be going well and I tasted the true essence of joy, my relentless pursuit of perfection overshadowed the experience. The choices I made were deeply rooted in my childhood, when I was taught to categorize everything as good or bad, accepted or rejected. I performed on life’s grand stage, deriving my energy from crowded places that made me stand out. However, in truth, I hadn’t blended in as an individual but rather merged into the collective mass of people.

I found myself trapped in an adult body, obediently conforming to predefined moulds set by others, all the while pretending that these choices were truly my own and that everything was fated to unfold this way.

“After all, what was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of them at any given moment, all the while pretending that they’d actually made some sort of choice.”

― Tom Perrotta

I was both a giver and a receiver, fully aware that it was important not to demand more from others than they could give, and to avoid burdening them with excessive responsibilities. It seemed simple to avoid disappointment when I held no expectations, but in reality, that notion was purely theoretical. Often, my dreams and aspirations led me to fabricate false memories, blurring the boundaries between truth and falsehood. I had a tendency to project onto others qualities and characteristics they did not possess, fueling my thoughts with expectations that distorted the reality before me, like a twisted mirror that created confusion rather than shattering into sharp fragments.

The ache of heartbreak permeated my very bones, and it was only within the sanctuary of my safe space that I could discern the types and expectations that truly served my best interests. I found myself surrounded by illusions that appeared to align with my desires, yet they concealed the truth behind their deceptive façades. To truly see life anew, I needed to shed the weight of outdated beliefs and embrace a fresh perspective. Taking a step back from judgmental and critical gazes allowed me to discover the inner peace I longed for. It was crucial to acknowledge that types and expectations were not fixed in stone; I held the power to shift my perception and approach, granting myself the opportunity for a new beginning and a revitalized journey.

“You don’t ask nobody to give what they can’t give, or be what they can’t be. You’ve learned that you got a headstart on heartbreak.”

― Jack Farris

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