I watched her from afar as she presented her story, projecting a tone of confidence, and a polished appearance. Well, at least as polished as her awkward physique would allow. Everyone else was focused intently on what she was saying, how it was being pitched, and what was in it for them. Mesmerised by her ability to sell concepts that they all knew existed, but not many could articulate. It was her gift, the gift of the gab that allowed her to win political favour without appointment. But the incompleteness of her expression revealed more than the content of her story. That smile that was supposed to exude confidence didn’t fully reach her eyes, because her eyes were not party to the conversation between her mind and her lips. Her eyes were probing. Darting around the room looking for the affirmation that she needed to believe that she was being recognised.
The recognition she needed was not academic. It was what was needed to complete that smile. To smile without hesitance, or express without restraint. Never knowing if she had arrived, or if she was still fighting to be part of their journey, it left her incomplete. Each notch higher in the rungs that stretched out before her only taunted her insecurity that she hid so well. But her poise didn’t hide it. Nor did her eyes. As much as those eyes were the windows to her soul, it was also the windows to her insincerity spawned by her insecurity. Deep seated betrayals in the recesses of her childhood, played out in the anger of her adolescent years, emphasised by the rebelliousness of her young adult life when her rage could finally be financed, followed by the deep regrets of wasted years of venting left an incomplete smile in even her resilient soul. But it’s the same resilience that finally gave way to frustrations that eventually eroded the principles that all that rage fought to establish, or to oppose, simply because of the need for validation. That need to be socially acceptable, or professionally celebrated.
There’s an awkwardness that I sense when I’m around people that are seeking approval or validation. Their presence feels contaminated. They sway with the presence of authority, or the absence of it. It’s like being left to wander in the desert mustering the spirit each time a mirage presents itself on the horizon, and suddenly surrendering your spirit the moment the mirage reveals itself for what it is. I think we arrive at moments in our lives when we forget that it’s what the mirage represents that we are seeking, and not the mirage itself. Eventually reality fuses with our dreams and determining the difference between the two becomes more difficult. The only hope to awaken from such a fused state is to arrive at the mirage so that we may be rudely awoken by the fact that it was not really what we set out to achieve.
Some arrive at this point and feel a sense of futility. Often, the realization that so much of life has passed, and so little remains, leaves them feeling overwhelmed and disenchanted. This further entrenches the sense of betrayal they carried around with them since their early years turning them into manipulative brutes who seek to gain disproportionately from every encounter without apology or conscience. Others that pursued such dreams with sincerity or conviction, when faced with this realization, may be derailed for a while. Such moments of derailment will be opportunity for reflection, and hopefully renewed conviction. Fortunately, the former are not great in numbers, but unfortunately neither are the latter. The vast majority that reach this point find themselves disillusioned and deflated. They lay waste to a lifetime of struggle and perseverance lamenting their failure while refusing to place themselves in harm’s way again. They recede from the fight and choose to survive until they are no longer required to live.
I’ve witnessed and experienced first hand the betrayal at the hands of those that have spent their lives enraged by having been betrayed. Each time I found myself recalibrating my expectations, and more importantly my search for purpose. Each time my purpose gained more clarity and my convictions needed more energy to sustain. That’s not as contradictory as it sounds. With each cycle of renewed effort after a betrayal, we have that much more that we need to push aside for us to remain focused on our goals. It becomes that much easier to succumb and join the masses that we could not sway. The boulder grows bigger while the ascent steeper. With such an inevitable end, it stands to reason that we must meet our final moments feeling spent, without an ounce left to give.
I therefore cannot understand the rationale that drives so many to be someone other than who they wish to be. I think we all set out to change the world when we’re naïve about the egos that drive it. As we grow familiar with these egosystems, we resolve to break them up so that the wholesomeness of our philosophies can take hold instead. When we realize that the egosystems are larger than our best efforts, we may assume to instead work from within to undermine the structures that we could not change from the outside. Few succeed, while the rest of us surrender and become whores to the system.
Just be who you are, without apology, and the world will accept or reject you the same way they will even if you were to try to appease them. At least that way, you won’t waste a lot of life in trying to secure acceptance or validation from a race that is born into distraction and consumption.