It’s Saturday and I’m not the most private person I’ve ever known.
(Family and close friends are now smiling and thinking, that’s the understatement of the year. Well, the year is still young!)
It probably seems like I share a lot about myself publicly. And I suppose I do. I always have. It started when I was a little kindergartener in Catholic school and I told the other kids that I had invisible kittens.
Telling peers that you have invisible kittens is an excellent litmus test for friendship; it quickly weeds out the ones who have no imagination, and it immediately brings to light who is going to pick on you for the rest of your school career, so there are no surprises later on down the line. You get to be yourself from day one, and by the time you get to those awkward tween years, everyone is already used to you being a little weird, and you’re used to yourself being a little different.
That was all well and good until I switched to public school with people who were unaccustomed to my childlike authenticity, and I spent the better part of the next decade trying to recapture my former state of being comfortable in my own weird skin, while at the same time trying to have the skin of a chameleon so I could just become invisible and be left alone.
I still sometimes struggle with wanting to pursue these contradictory paths. I haven’t written as much this year as I had in the previous three, because it was difficult to share what I had not yet accepted about myself.
What I have shared, though, is what I do accept, even if I don’t really like it – for much the same reason I will tell you about my invisible kittens. See, I didn’t have any pets, and I really wanted them. So I cared for kittens in my mind, and they were real to me. They had names and personalities and I loved them, and when I outgrew them for invisible dinosaurs, and then invisible unicorns and horses, and then finally started to ride real horses, I grieved for my outgrown kittens and dinosaurs and unicorn named Lantern Light, and invisible horses named Strawberry and Creampuff.
Today when I put myself out there, it’s much the same. I’m writing about the person I long to be, and I’m also writing about the person I’m outgrowing and grieving. I know not everyone is going to “get” that. Not everyone is going to believe in a spiritual path, any more than kindergarteners will believe in invisible kittens. The few who do, however, are going to love me no matter what changes I go through or how awkward I am as I reveal myself.
And that’s all we really need. Just a small handful of people who will love us and our invisible best friends. One or two is more than enough. When you share your crazy, it saves you from wasting time trying to impress the people who won’t accept you anyway. May as well fly the freak flag proudly. Maybe someone else with invisible kittens or horses is looking for someone just like you who will understand and will take tentative steps into reality if you can go together.