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The Naked Soul Manifesto

Are you really who you tell yourself you are?

Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

I am like no other person.

Fragile. Flawed. Imperfect.

I make mistakes. I get hurt. I struggle. I suffer. I grieve. I act out. I learn. I grow. I move on.

I am like no other person.

Scared and scary. Loving and lovable. Strong and weak.

I get inspired and empowered. And then I get insecure, defensive, and ashamed. I just seek my place in the puzzle of existence.

I strive for meaning, for purpose, for fulfillment. I just want to matter.

I am like no other person.

Lost and found. Asleep and awake. Always searching for something or someone. Often — just searching for my very own self.

I am like no other person.

I’m bold beyond reason and afraid beyond logic.

I bruise easily.

I love. I laugh. I dream. I breathe in and I breathe out. I raise and I fall.

I sometimes make the people I love happy. I sometimes also make them sad.

I am like no other person.

Sometimes I hurt people, other times — I get hurt by people. But I don’t intentionally seek out either. Sometimes I’m just not behind the wheel.

I become a passive bystander to my misery and just accept it as a given.

But it’s really not. I may sometimes hurt someone unintentionally and I regret it. As to feeling hurt — that’s all me.

I can’t always choose what happens to me. But what I can always choose is how I react to it. What I do with it. What I transform it into. What I use it as fuel for.

It’s all my choice what narrative I create.

It’s all my choice what stories I tell myself.

And I sometimes get it terribly wrong — I tell myself stories of who I think I am as opposed to stories of who I truly am.

I am like no other person.

I tell myself stories that someone somewhere told me of why I don’t belong.

I tell myself stories that someone somewhere told me of why I’m not good enough.

I tell myself stories that someone somewhere told me of how I’m different and don’t fit in.

I tell myself stories that someone somewhere told me of why I don’t deserve to be happy.

But am I really who I tell myself I am?

Are those really my stories?

Or is that someone’s remote, limited, subjective, and circumstantial perception of a brief moment of my life that in that particular moment that particular person used as a foundation to stamp my entire existence as unworthy, undeserving, and pointless?

I am like no other person.

I question my worth and equate myself with what I see in people’s eyes. And I know that’s counterproductive. I know it’s not actionable in a meaningful way as it doesn’t lead me to do what I need to do in order to be happy, but instead leads me to do what would make other people happy with who I am. And I know that’s shallow.

And yet, I am only human. I am a social animal. I want to belong. I want to be relevant, to be relatable, to be understood.

But we don’t always see the world as it is. We often see it as we are.

I am like no other person.

I dance with destiny or maybe I engineer my own life with prompts of my particular environment — who can really tell for sure?

But whatever I do at any given moment, I always try my best.

I try to be my best and do my best.

I try to make the best decisions, to act in the best way I’m capable of, to say the best things.

But who’s really the judge of what makes something the best?

How do I ever know if I’m the best that I can be? Should I be the best to be happy?

And even if I should be the best, what should I be the best at?

Effort, hard work, and perseverance toward my goals?

Compassion and patience toward myself?

Humility, empathy, and service toward others?

Is there only one best thing to do or be? And what if some of those things are in conflict? What if there’s more to the story than meets the eye?

How do we distinguish between the moments when we need to stop pushing and must pause and catch our breath for a minute, and the moments when we’re just slacking and riding the pity party train?

And even though pushing often makes it better in many respects, what if all that pushing is moving us forward in a completely wrong direction?

What if we actually needed to stop pushing altogether in order to figure out whether we’re fighting the right battles in the first place?

I am like no other person.

I power through pain that people know nothing about.

I often choose to smile — it’s easier for people to digest. It’s easier for them to keep their distance. Because if they lean in, if they come in close, they can’t help it — they can’t really judge me anymore. They can’t hate the otherness of the other because what they really see is that up close we’re the same.

I am like no other person.

I fight battles nobody knows nothing about.

But when I really, really think about it…

I am also like all other people.

I am all other people.

Underneath all layers of expectations that people have of us, underneath all roles we’ve assumed and act in accordance with, underneath all strategies for productivity, all accomplishments, motivation, desires, and goals, we are all the same, we are all one.

Black or white, male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, young or old, perfectly fit or morbidly obese, healthy or sick, physically able or disabled, we all have the same soul — a soul that wants to be happy. A soul that wants to be loved. A soul that doesn’t want to get hurt. A soul that wants to belong.

I am like no other person and I am like all other people at the same time.

We’re all fragile somehow.

We’re all flawed somewhere.

We’re all imperfect sometimes.

And that’s what makes us beautiful. Not when we wear our imperfections, flaws, and fragilities like war wounds and pretend like they can never heal. But when we take those imperfections, flaws, and fragilities, and choose to wear them as badges of honor, turn them into our biggest advantages, and fight our battles not feeling disabled but rather empowered by them.

Whatever happens to us, we all fight battles. We spend our entire lives fighting battles. The most important part, though, is not so much what strategies we employ, what tools and tactics we use to win, but rather whether we choose to fight our own battles or other people’s. That’s the only critical choice that can completely change the course of our lives.

We all struggle.

We all get hurt.

We all go about our days learning our lessons.

We often learn the exact same lesson but we take on completely different journeys to get there. And it’s often not the lesson that matters so much as it’s the way we learn it.

We all sometimes feel uniquely flawed, uniquely imperfect, uniquely fragile. And we really are in some ways. Nobody has that exact combination of background, experience, trauma, wounds, vulnerabilities, struggles, skills, talents, interests, abilities, maybe even dreams. Except for one.

To belong. And the only way to truly belong to who we are is to accept the paradox that we can be uniquely different in our similarities, to stop telling ourselves who we think we are, and to actually be who we are meant to be.