When I first moved to Big Bear in 1984, I was 8 years old. I was moving into a closed community and remote town, so most of the kids at my school already knew each other since kindergarten. I was also an only child, so I didn’t have a strong sense of social norms and tended to do things that felt true to me but were strange to others. As a result, I got more and more isolated from my peers during elementary school and into middle school. No matter how badly I wanted that to be different, or how sincerely I tried to adapt to whatever I thought could make me acceptable, I inevitably ran into two obstacles: 1. I can’t control what people think of me, no matter what I do; and, 2. Trying to be something I’m not usually results in the “real” me snapping back and living itself no matter what.
At some point before or after starting high school, I got tired of trying. I got tired of caring what people thought. I got tired of being anything but myself. I realized everything was a losing battle, so I concluded that I would go forward from that point just doing whatever I felt natural to do. Over my high school years, that looked like being a little bizarre, very religious, somewhat self-absorbed, and generally nice and open. By the time I graduated, many people -some of whom even bullied me when I was younger- told me that they admired and respected my authenticity and wished they had the courage to live as I had.
For many years, I more or less kept on that track. But apparently, when it came to my relationships, I didn’t. I became someone else- I became the woman who would be enough to keep those men from leaving me. Because for most of my life, being alone was the absolute worst thing to face. Keeping the men in my life was more important than living as my real self, if my real self would drive them away.
What I’ve learned now is that, if you don’t really have someone authentically from the heart, having them in “a relationship” is just a ruse. That relationship will be just as painful and unfulfilling as the loneliness would be. What matters is when someone really wants you for who you are, without needing you to change. Without needing you even to make sense, okay? This is cliché, I know. I am only saying it to say from this point, I don’t want anyone around if they can’t (forget accept, that’s too passive) ENJOY me for who I really am. It doesn’t matter if you’re my relative by blood, a close friend, a distant friend, or anyone interested in sharing a life with me. Don’t ask me to change. Don’t ask me to explain why I am the way I am. Most of the time, I don’t even know. If you find me enjoyable, likeable, dare I say- loveable, then just take me for what I’m worth. If I hurt you, then know I am sincerely sorry and never meant to. If you need me to make sure I never hurt you, I can’t. No one can do that. If you find me worthwhile to be in your life against what possible human hurts can come, then do. If not, then don’t…and I won’t even hold it against you.
For everyone else, you’re free to think whatever you want of me. You can think I’m a horrible parent. You can think I am a poor decision maker. You can think I’m too idealistic or too religious. You can think I’m selfish. I really don’t care anymore. What I know about myself is that all my life I’ve been working to make myself into the best Amy I can be, and that never stopped nor will stop now. If someone’s negative view of me happens to be accurate, in shaa Allah I will grow past that shortcoming. But even if I don’t (because we will all die in a stage of incompleteness, still trying to fix things), I can still find meaning and happiness in life. And that’s all that matters to me right now.