Written by: Anonymous Contributor.
Whose perception is reality? The one we hold of ourselves? Or the one others hold of us?
I had just finished a 14 hour day, one where I had to scold a subordinate and listen to what seemed to be crisis after crisis with very little patience left. I canceled dinner with my father as I was tired and beat down, angry at everything and nothing at all. I wanted to be alone. I wanted nothing to do with the plans I was supposed to make to see my niece’s soccer game that weekend. I had text messages from various friends, some asking for help, some calling to vent, none that I had the energy to return. I was anything but happy. I was anything but bright.
But on my walk home, I ran into a friend I had not seen in a year or two. We started talking. He told me about how his wife was recovering from an illness, and now the kids were not doing so well in college. How he hoped to retire soon and see all the places he had not seen of the world. I offered my best for his wife, joked that his kids took after him, and recommended a hotel in London where I stay every time I go back. Then, I told him about my promotion, my nieces, and how, yes, I was still coaching youth basketball and that we had won last year’s championship. We talked for hours on the street corner, without sense of time.
As we went to part ways, he stopped and just shook his head in disbelief:
“I just have to saw wow… when I first met you, damn, you were cold. Too young to be so cold. You have always had a heart of gold, but back then it was dipped in ice, surrounded by barbed wire, hidden from everyone but those you chose to let feel it. But this version of you? This version, your smile reaches your eyes again, were they always so blue? Your laugh is contagious, how does anyone stay mad around that laugh? And you are open, warm, selfless, leading with that heart of gold, not hiding it behind that self-erected armor. This version of you – the one that seems to have learned to love again? – this version may be my favorite. I’m jealous of those who get to see it every day, and in my age I can say, I’m definitely jealous of the man who will be brave enough to accept it, for he will be a king.”
I stood in that spot after he departed, floored. I never thought of myself as open, warm, or selfless. I never really thought of myself as anything really. I was just me in any given moment, doing what was needed. But for the first time that day, I did not feel impatient. I was not tired. I walked on air as I called and rescheduled dinner with my father for the next day. Responded to those texts, making sure those of mine were okay. Bought a blue shirt to match my niece’s soccer uniform…
It is okay to grow. To find different versions of yourself. To figure out who you are. But it is never okay to forget who you are.
image source: pixabay