Good for Caitlyn Jenner! Brava to finally being able to be true to herself as the person she was born to be.
This is a good day to talk about being true to oneself. We are at a time in human history where transgender folk are able to stand up for themselves and be authentic. It’s hard for some people to understand – the world is not black and white, man and woman. We are a fascinating mosaic of souls born into various situations and bodies that go beyond an age old set of “norms”. It’s a beautiful thing how we come to be, but it’s sad to be trapped in a persona false to our spirit, only to play it safe.
Let’s raise the stakes here. Being true to oneself is not always about gender identity or sexuality. It’s also about regular people trying to fit into the mold society expects of them. Getting a “good job”, paying one’s bills – we are conditioned to place our destiny in the hands of corporations while our personal talents, our gift to the word, are left on a shelf to die.
People who get caught up in this trap (and I’m one) never realize they are not being true to themselves in life until one day they wake up realizing they hate every moment of it.
We create a persona like a suit we step into as childhood falls away to adulthood. It’s protection from poverty, insecurity, ridicule, jealously, hatred and failure.
Jenner did this. But don’t we all do this? Don’t we all create a character we play in the game of life as a form of protection, not only for ourselves, but for those we love?
My parents played the game. The people I knew as mom and dad had dreams and talents they shed for the role of parent. They encased themselves within the mold of stoicism and responsibility.
Before I was born, they were entirely different people. My dad was a dashing dresser, who played upright bass in the army and was a talented sculptor who knew how to create the human form from a mound of clay. My mom was a career woman with her own dress shop, whose personal style and flair for fashion lead her to design dresses, hiring tailors to run them up so she could sell them to tourists and secretaries whose wardrobe needed a little lift.
But that all ended when their concept of “the real world” took hold.
Isn’t “the real world” just an illusion?
When I was born, the real Bernie and Ana slipped away as the illusion took hold – the illusion my parents needed to sustain a sense of integrity. I saw my mother as a housewife, and my father as an IBM Manager. Those were the roles they placed upon themselves for survival. It was the comfort zone they needed in order to exist in a world where they could raise me, their first born American child, in this country.
Yet, they didn’t know how to handle their own dreams in the land of “The American Dream”. In reaching whatever that dream was – or still is – they had to give up their own personal gifts – shed their true selves – for the persons expected of them as refuges from two different historical conflicts. I can’t blame them. They did well. I’m grateful for their strength, but I wish they could have pursued their real dreams in front of me more often.
My folks created an illusion. Just like Bruce Jenner did when he denied the Caitlyn inside.
My father wasn’t an IBM manager, accountant and financial software developer who would re-purpose old suits and ties from the 70’s – he was a sculptor.
My mother wasn’t a housewife trapped in Westchester County with a kid and bouts of mental illness – she was a fashion designer and business woman.
I’m not an Executive Assistant – I’m a writer and a writer who wants to coach others to write.
Let’s be true to ourselves. If we are artists and know we have a gift to bring to the world, let’s step into our authentic selves and do it.
And finally – the only think shocking in Jenner’s story to me is this: How did I NOT know she was from Tarrytown, New York? That’s two towns over from where I grew up. I was a child during the 1976 Olympics. If I had know, it would have been the coolest thing ever!