February 27, 2020
I love The Incredibles. 12/10 film if you ask me. I love the storyline having so much to do with trying to find yourself. Each and every character is going through some sort of internal struggle relating to feel they aren’t being completely themselves. This is a story I wrote in 8th grade about a book I read mixed with a personal obsession with the best Pixar movie of all time, and the mutual lesson to be learned from both of them.
I’ve just finished reading Scary Close by Donald Miller. The majority of Scary Close was about having enough trust in those you love to show them the real you. Scary Close talks about how showing people your true self can be terrifying, but there isn’t any other way to achieve intimacy with the people you’re close to. He explains how you have an inner-self and an outer-self. Your inner-self is a lot more sensitive to rejection than your outer-self. Your outer-self is the person you create through the course of life to protect the real you. Don (after reading the book you feel like you know him well enough to call him by a nickname) struggles with protecting his inner-self by performing for those he loves instead of letting them see him for who he truly is. As he went through and explained why he does this, I realized I have the same problem; I’m performing for those I love instead of just loving them.
We form these different selves because somewhere in our lives we were taught that whatever we are isn’t enough, or someone else is more than us. Somewhere in my life I must have been, incorrectly, taught ‘the entertaining people are more lovable than the rest of us’. So, naturally, I tried to become one of these ‘entertaining people’. It was all subconscious. It wasn’t like I was always reminding myself I had to be entertaining in order to be lovable, it just kinda happened.
I started hiding the gentler parts of myself behind the curtain as my sense of humor and spontaneity starred in the show. This created an imposter personality: my outer-self.
All of a sudden I became uncomfortable with silence because it meant I was failing to be entertaining. I started talking a whole lot more and making more jokes in my need to be found funny. I had taken a personality that wasn’t mine, so I sometimes paid a price. I was a lot meaner and moodier than I am when I’m being authentic because being another person all the time is tiring, folks.
Personalities are custom made and you can’t just wear another person’s without it looking weird on the outside and feeling weird on the inside. When I got ready in the morning I wasn’t just putting on clothes, but a whole different personality. It felt like wearing shoes that were just a little bit too small, but I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was until I finally had to bravery to take them off. I was at summer camp the first time I tried authenticity. I escaped all pressure I put on myself to hide who I am behind an entertaining front. It was just me.
It was awesome.
I didn’t make it my job to be the loudest, or the fun-est, or the wittiest. I made it my job to be the authentic-est, and I learned a lot about who I actually am. I learned about how I’m kinda quiet, I’m easily embarrassed, and a whole lot kinder than I thought. I was described by my peers as ‘graceful’ and ‘sweet’ which felt a lot better than ‘funny’ or ‘bold’. I think the words felt better because I wasn’t trying to be anything. I was just being. It made compliments feel easier to accept. I like how my authentic self feels more than the other version, even if the other version is a lot funnier. I liked hearing others talk about themselves and I liked laughing at their jokes. I found myself thinking about them a lot more than myself. When I wasn’t distracted by my insecurity I had a lot more time in my thoughts to consider others. I liked it a lot.
But when I came back I put my mask right back on again. I didn’t trust my friends to love the authentic me. Something deep inside me believes no one will love me unless I provide entertainment. Automatically assuming this isn’t fair to my friends or myself, but I think everyone has some sort of ‘no one will love me unless…’ formula, and a lot of us put on personalities that aren’t our own because of it. We try to fill the void in our souls, the one only God can fill, with meaningless traits. I think God wants us to stop thinking we’re ‘unlovable’ and start loving ourselves as much as He loves us. He wants us to stop creating personalities and just love the people He created. Trying to be someone we’re not is basically telling God we’re better creators than Him, and that’s just crazy.
He wants us to love other people as much as He loves them too. He wants us to encourage each other to be our authentic selves so we can hurry up and get to loving each other. It’s really hard to love someone and to be loved by someone if you’re always faking with them.
I think when we start considering our most vulnerable self ‘lovable’ rather than something to be hidden is when we can start forming intimate relationships with, both, those around us and the God of the Universe. Others can feel your confidence and are subconsciously attracted to your authenticity. It’s easier to be in a relationship with God when we aren’t constantly questioning if He was correct in making us the way He did. It’s totally true when people say, ‘before loving others you have to find love for yourself.’ If you can’t love yourself well, there isn’t any way you can love others well.
For me, I know by creating a whole other ‘outer self’ I was making it impossible to love myself at all. I think ‘Buddy From The Fanclub’ (aka Incrediboy, aka Syndrome in The Incredibles) was accidentally touching on this when he said,
“You always say ‘be true to yourself’ but you never say which part of yourself to be true too!”
Honest mistake, Buddy. Buddy was the epitome of someone who was trying to find worth in false identities. A lot of our false identities don’t end up creating robots meant to destroy cities but, you know, go big or “Go home, Buddy”.
Here’s the answer I think Buddy needed:
Be the simplest version of yourself. The rawest. Don’t let anyone influence that self except Jesus. That’s gonna be the easiest self to love; even if being someone else is more appealing. God made you, you for a reason.
So there. I just resolved all conflicts with Syndrome. You’re welcome, Mr. Incredible.