|Photo courtesy of iam.beyonce.com|
I read the text message and started to cry. “They were beyond impressed with you.” I had applied for a new job and my potential employer was already contacting my references.”I was just being myself,’ I thought. “They were impressed with me just being me.”
I washed my hands, wiped my away the mascara that adorned my face, headed out of the bathroom and instead of heading down the steps and into the sunshine of the late morning to continue with my day, I headed back to my counselors office and read my counselor the text. She beamed and remarked she wasn’t surprised. I started to cry again. “They don’t know me.” I cried. “Fuck loving me, just know me.” I was angry. I was angry that I got to be myself and strangers were impressed. Granted they probably thought I was stepping it up a notch, after all it was an interview. But for me it was the opposite. For me it was letting my hair down, letting it all hang out, speaking and being heard, making myself visible and being seen. For me it was natural. I was being, discussing, showcasing what I knew I was born to do.
Yet, I knew I had people in my life, family included, who consistently seem shocked by who I am. They are constantly baffled at how much advocacy work around women and girls matters to me never mind me organizing and acting in an Eve Ensler production every year since 2008 and supporting her work every year since 2005 when I first learned of her work. Some are baffled by my constant travel as if I don’t talk extensively about how much I love traveling. They often lead me to wonder is it because they have no idea who I really am.
|Photo courtesy of Naureen Ghewella as pinned on Pinterest|
“Why don’t they know me?” I asked her.
“Ahyana, I really think they aren’t capable. I don’t think it’s a choice. Who wouldn’t want to know you? ” she replied.
She offered me a seat on the couch but I neglected. I really had to go. She offered a hug and I took that, grabbed some tissues, smiled at the fish on the shelf by the door, wiped my mascara (I really need to go back to the waterproof stuff), and headed down the steps, out the door, and smack into the sunshine.
I let her words roll around in the back of my head for several days, contemplating choice versus capability. Accepting it may be a matter of ability didn’t take away the ache that comes with not being known. It felt better than accepting that people preferred not to know me, but instead know the me I either used to be or the version of me they created in their minds. People do that, even I do sometimes- create and become enamored with the idea of the person instead of the actual person.
Other words also took up residence in my mind, “To know me is to love me.” I’d heard the phrase plenty of times, mostly from sweet, flirtatious, well meaning guys that I was just not interested in for one reason or another. My response to the phrase was always the same- laughter. Yet when I thought of these words more recently there was no laughter. There was only me concurring to the truth of such words. Love followed by knowledge. It is easy to say that we love the things we don’t truly know, the people we don’t truly know. I think it’s just deep like. I think love is in knowing and desiring connection and relationship with the person often in spite of what we know about them.
|Photo courtesy of Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All” video|
When we know things and know people that is when there is opportunity for love. With knowledge is revelation, usually revelation of some of the ugly broken things that make us the imperfect human beings we are. Furthermore, that’s what we truly crave. We deeply desire the love and affection of the persons who are well aware of our impatience, need to be right, love for the last word, scars from abusive childhoods or previous relationships, the shame we have not worked through as we are unable to conceive children, infatuation with careers that will never truly be financially rewarding or sustainable without a second income or third part time job, the depression we go to counseling for, our battle with being overweight, etc. We deeply desire to be in relationship with people who see past what we can do and see us for just who we are and even who we can be. We want those connections because they make us feel known. They make us feel like being who we are at the end of a long day, whether it leaves us at our whits end and defeated or exhausted but smiling, is okay. They make us feel like we’re okay and Lord knows I simply want to know that who I am, flaws and all, is okay.
So how do we get this knowledge? Because it goes both ways. I can’t, won’t, and don’t expect people to exercise any type of power and magically know all about the A.King package. Sure there is something to be said for observation. There’s something to be said for knowing that while I will a dress in a hear beat, I hate wearing heels. I currently own 117 dresses and 14 pairs of heals, not including wedges. You do the math.
In fact my sister teases me about my love for dresses and my hate for heels. If I have to wear heels she usually calls and reminds me to start practicing walking in them so when the occasion arrives, I don’t look like I’m in pain. You all probably know by known I love food, eating it and cooking it. So does my dad. In fact he knows I love all types of food and is quick to ask when I return from traveling what new food I tried. I loved telling him about eating friend alligator.
|Photo courtesy of Gianfranco Meloni|
However, there is also something to be said for me allowing myself to be known. “I don’t like counseling Aunt Joyce.” “You don’t?” She replied. She stopped washing the dishes and sat down across from me at her kitchen table. “Nope. I want out actually. My next job won’t be a counseling job.” We talked about why I got in the field and why I wanted out, the type of jobs I was looking at and how I saw myself using my counseling skill set in other fields other than being a counselor. It was a great conversation, but anything short of me getting a new job, she wouldn’t have been able to observe that I didn’t like being a counselor. She would observe my degrees and work history and assume that’s what I wanted. Some of being known means we have to share with others things for them to know about us. Don’t go crying people don’t know you and you’re not letting them get to know you by sharing things about yourself. Furthermore, make sure you choose wisely who you are sharing yourself with. And finally, stop sharing yourself physically and sexually and then wondering why people aren’t feeling like they need to know you spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Yeah I said that.
Finally, there is something to be said for knowing yourself. For knowing what truly matters to you in life, what you desire your life to reflect, what characteristics are important for you to possess and those with whom you are in relationship to possess. This takes time. A year ago I would not have been boo hooing about being known because I didn’t know how much that mattered to me. It was a continuous series of events in the past year that helped me to know this. As I reflect on this new knowledge I can see how in reality feeling known for who I am, not my grades, creativity, thoughtfulness, supportiveness, empathetic listening, attractiveness, or resourcefulness, truly mattered to me in some shape or form.
Over the weekend I was sorting through some things that I never unpacked when I moved into my house this past January. I cam across a box of inventory from my old business. I smiled thinking of the designs, memories of the excitement of picking up the inventory, the trunk shows, the orders filled, and one such order being from my mom who ordered items as incentives for her students. She knew my business mattered to me and she supported me.
|Photo courtesy of Alexis Davis as pinned on Pinterest|
My hope this week is that you are reminded that there are people in our life who know you, who see you, who know you are worthy of being known and loved. My hope is that you also continue to make yourself known because you know that you are worthy of being known- idiosyncrasies and all. My hope is also that you continue to know yourself. Don’t underestimate carving out time to get a better handle on who you are. You are not the same person you were a year ago. Heck you’re not the same person you were yesterday. You are, we are, constantly changing so we’ve got to keep up with those changes. But I will tell you one thing, it’s the work, the investment of keeping up with those changes that make being known even more powerful, and makes being loved by those who know you even more splendid.