It’s hard to be yourself when it seems as though you always have to explain why you do the things you do.
You wear sunglasses on the elevator. You wear noise canceling headphones in the mall. You always sit quietly off to the side when you are in a crowd. You shade your eyes with your hands when you are sitting under harsh fluorescent lights. You don’t get jokes when the punch line comes around. You get distracted and start a new task instead of doing what you had said you were going to do. You don’t seem to be present. You can be extremely literal and are unable to properly interpret what people are saying to you. You are always complaining about headache. Or…a bunch of other stuff.
These things make us feel like we stick out, and we we assume people are wondering about us or making comments under their breath about us. As a result, we feel the need to constantly explain ourselves and our actions to others.
When you are a TBI survivor you feel as though you stick out like a sore thumb because of the “quirks” you exhibit. We have a need to explain ourselves, in what is a battle to fit in and be accepted. Feeling uncomfortable in our own skin, we want to communicate to people why we do the things we do, as well as make sure others know that, “I was not always like this.”
I want to testify
It’s infuriating, feeling as though you are not being taken seriously, or are being judged when others can’t know the full story. There is just so much they don’t know about, and we feel it is our obligation to let them know.
Minor “TBI episodes” seem major to us, and they always seem to call for justification. There are precious few situations where we feel as though we can just be ourselves without explaining and justifying ourselves and our actions to others.
The issues are in our brain, invisible to everyone, but very, very real to us. How do we get someone to understand when they can’t see us for what we are? Unfortunately, there is no way to communicate our reality except through words, and the vicious cycle begins where the words we use don’t seem to matter. Then we get excited, and the more emotional we get about it, the less effective we are.
Because of this, and because of the general state of affairs we find ourselves in, a feeling of vulnerability hovers over us and follows us like a cloud. It’s just something we can’t escape; a general feeling of doubt and of not living up to our own expectations, never mind anyone else’s. That doubt makes us feel a little less than human, and makes us feel as though we are not on equal footing with the other people we come across.
Not only can’t you be like everyone else, you can’t get others to understand why.
Stop trying to make sense
Trying to make sense doesn’t seem to do any good. We shoot ourselves in the foot when we try to be rational so others see what’s going on with us.
Maybe we should try to look at it this way: when we explain things we are giving excuses and not accepting who we are. Every time we explain ourselves, it’s because we feel as though we aren’t good enough. Although we might think we are giving a reason for something and explaining ourselves, the truth is we are giving in and using excuses to explain ourselves.
I’m not saying we don’t have very good reasons for why we are the way we are, but we don’t have to rely on them.
Let’s try to change our mindset and feel good about who we are. Let’s try accepting the way we are, even it is strange and we don’t fit in. By doing that, perhaps other people will accept the way we are also, regardless of the “quirks” we exhibit. Not explaining ourselves, but just being who we are, is a sign of strength because it is a s sign of self-acceptance.
This is difficult. It goes against everything we have always thought and assumed, and it flies in the face of what comes naturally, but it’s worth a try.
Remember, explaining your situation to someone doesn’t make you a winner, what makes you a winner is when you are powerful and you are yourself. Like Kermit says, “It’s not easy being green,” but he is, and he makes no excuses.
Live your life with no excuses.