“What IS that?” “Did a boyfriend beat you up?” “Did you grow a unicorn horn and cut it off?” “Are you the devil?”
With questions like these, it’s no wonder we have a warped view of who we truly are. I have a scar. Its dark, it’s prevalent on my forehead, and it affords others opportunity to ask because unconscious people are ready to believe you are willing to discuss every small detail about yourself that is different. When something is apparent yet subtle about someone, most are quick to assume it is a flaw rather than a piece of the puzzle about your unique and beautiful soul.
Let’s start with apparent. If something is obvious about someone, most people would choose not to point and stare unless they were jerks or had hangups about that particular transparency.
I categorize the apparent by:
A) Ethnicity B) Handicap C) Unique Dress D) Assumed Image of the Beholder.
Then there is the subtle. That which isn’t always apparent but different enough that people feel like they can bring it up in conversation without being rude. Sometimes these are a matter of choice, other times they are not.
I categorize the subtle by:
A) Hairstyle or Hair Growth B) Scars/Tattoos C) Accessories D) Symbols or Slang
Let’s group them for easier handling, and see if we can’t get a piece of this puzzle put together. Note that all of these categories could go with any other on the list, and you could make an argument for any one of these to but for the sake of following a pattern in our culture I have generalized. Yes, I am fighting generalizing with MORE generalizing. Deal with it.
Ethnicity/Hairstyle or Hair Growth
Both of these would be assumed as the organic and beautiful parts of who we are as people. Whatever transparency our race is we can’t hide the fact that we each have a crown on which our glory resides. In Kundalini Yoga tradition, the growth of a man’s hair to a long length is what is called his “Rishi Knot” or place where wisdom resides. Whether someone chooses to even show their hair, as in the tradition of the Hasidic community of Judaism, is completely their values and judgement. Whether someone wears a turban, has dreadlocks, or if a woman cuts her hair short in the Buddhist nun tradition. Different cultures have different views on what style works, and what doesn’t.
And yet I hear all the time about TSA agents requiring Sikh men to remove their turbans. I’ve heard horror stories about black people having strangers come touch their natural hair with NO respect for their space. I go to a hair salon and ask to cut it short? The stylist asks “are you sure?” In other words “Are you sure you want to remove the thing that’s culturally feminine about you? You might lose some opportunities…”
When I was a kid, my parents were ardent against tattoos for professional reasons. I brought home someone who had multiple tattoos and ear plugs, and bless both my parents they loved him too. But whenever I asked my boyfriend about his fears of cutting off his professional opportunities because of his tattoos? He told me that he did not want to work anywhere that would judge him by his modifications. When I came across more people who had these kinds of modifications, they all remarked that the tattoos and piercings made them feel more like their real selves. They were becoming who they were in essence.
People assume that when you have a scar or tattoo, there either is an emotional handicap about it or that you have dark issues you need to solve. But the truth is our scars and modifications normally have real significance for our lives. They mark passages, honor friends and show us the passage of our real time problems. My scar happened because of stressful periods in my life that caused me to break out and pull off pieces of my skin. Now I wasn’t really willing to talk to strangers about this, but now that you know are you more willing to ask?
Now this does tend to vary based on community. In big cities? Usually this doesn’t apply because everyone is celebrating the unique wave of fashion within urban culture. But picture this: a man walks into a liquor store completely dressed up in Women’s clothing. Suri Cruise wears high heels while walking in downtown SoHo. A woman wears a see-through dress and walks into a grocery store. Two fans of the cult-hit cartoon “Adventure Time” make a pact to dress up as the lead characters and traverse the countryside having adventures.
Seemingly meaningless crimes against fashion, doesn’t it? Would you be quick to devalue that person because they wanted to wear something different than anyone else? Would you take a picture of that person and post it on social media with something like “WTF? FAGGGG”. We often lose out on what we are missing when we choose to marginalize the person who shows us a different way of life. Exterior is only a part of the picture. Imagine what we could learn from someone who has absolutely no fear of being judged in the public eye. When Lady Gaga does it, we call it art. When your neighbor does it, he’s a freak.
Assumed Image of the Beholder/Symbols or Slang
Just like these categories, humans enjoy putting people into tribal groups. Hipsters, Druggies, Hippies, Shiny Happy People. We don’t have time to recognize the middle area of persona because we are too busy with our own hangups. I’m guilty of it too, I see someone with a Romney/Ryan bumper sticker and I instantly try to pass him with my Obama 2012-mobile. But in truth, I’m not passing anything but a fake symbol of a fake idea with my own fake symbol and fake idea. The image I portray is nothing compared to what kind of person I am and sometimes I forget that when dealing with opposing views.
When we see someone who has an assumed image of, let’s say “alkie”, what exactly do we mean? Do we mean it like a sorority girl does to tease someone who drinks with her at 10 in the morning before finals? Do we mean it like someone who is seeking treatment? Like someone who needs help but can’t ask for it? Like the guy we could secretly idolize who can get into a fight while still holding his beer? Like our relatives we excommunicate because of behavioral patterns? These symbols are meaningless, and yet we find ourselves getting hung up on them when we can’t figure out the minute details of that person’s life.
So here’s my conclusion. The one thing wrong with you? Is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I figured out that the more gravity I give to my scar, the more people will comment. So I choose to believe that it truly is a piece of me that isn’t wrong at all but perfect and real. My apparent subtleties are beautiful, and so are yours. May you find all that is wrong with you right. May you chase the parts of you that are different and can’t be put into any of my dumb categories. May you appreciate every loose end that you have and live by them as a child of soul. May you love yourself exactly for who you are. May you be perfectly imperfect. May your differences unite. May your true self prevail.