You do not have to jump through hoops to be loved or accepted…that my friends is the truth.
It is common today to say,
- If he loves me, he will prove it by….
- If she loves you, she will…
- If they are part of this life, they should….
The list is as endless as the wind is invisible.
I have grappled for a long time with how I expected people who loved me to behave. I expected constant communication, deep conversation, time spent together, warm hugs, hangouts, etc… but alas. Less than one percent of the people around me could fully deliver on that expectation and I was devastated for a long time.
The thing that devastated me the most, was how clueless many were about what it takes to keep relationships alive. Many seemed to think that as long as we call ourselves friends and hang in the same circles that all was well. They assumed that going to school together or having mutual friends was enough to say we were close. Not a chance in my books!! Why? Simple! It takes work to really get to know and support people. It takes trust to walk together. It takes hope, faith, and love to stay the full course, and therein lies the challenge.
Often, I found myself having to change who I am to suit the conversations around me or remain friends. I found myself dumbing down my responses so I would not hurt people. I found myself measuring my words and walking on eggshells or having to defend myself over things that do not need it. There was so much pressure to be a certain way that belied who I actually am that did not sit well with me. It made me ask myself,
Why isn’t who I am enough?
The biggest challenge I have saw is how we must jump through hoops to fit in. How certain kinds of behaviour was ascribed to denote a cultured person and impacted acceptance, yet I am the most randomly different person many have met. I remember stares when I walked into spaces a little dusty because I used public transport and had to walk the last kilometre. I remember stares from guards when I get off a motorbike outside a prime location and walk in, I think they preferred cab drop-offs. I have looked up and found people staring at me because I comfortably sit on the floor in public spaces, take the most random photos of plants and things in mid stride or even smile at people I catch watching me.
I remember stares, whispers, and chuckles when I walked across a 5-star hotel lobby, barefoot because my feet were too swollen to fit into my shoes from long hours standing at an event setup. I remember sniggers when I declined to attend a dinner with friends because the cost way high and another time when a friend declined to have more than a drink at a night out because her pocket was light. I remember shudders of disbelief when I said I would not be part of a project because it did not resonate with me.
Is there another way?
Over time, I realise that my path has to be true to who I am so I must be comfortable walking to or away depending on how things resonate. I am learning to speak my truth however unpopular because I will no longer knowingly put myself into situations that will destroy me. Do not get me wrong. I still take on challenges, I still work to climb and overcome the mountain. I still walk on paths unknown and chart ways in unexplored places. I just do not do it for the praise of people or on the pushing of those who do not understand my path and calling.
I no longer jump through hoops to be loved and accepted. If who I am, warts and all, is not enough for you, so be it; our paths will diverge. If the relationship or friendship is not building us up, we do not need to walk together. If my presence in your life does not help both of us grow, our time together is up. I will call you out if our walk needs to align and listen when you call me out to recalibrate, yet I will always remain true to who God has told me I am, no matter how many people walk away.
I will stand and defend what I know is my assignment and pray for the rest from afar. No more hoops…just walking, trusting, believing, connecting, relating, and growing.