What will you think of me?
I know I can’t please everyone. I know I shouldn’t even think this question.
But still, this has been one of the most crippling questions in my life.
What will you think of me?
If I tell you the synopsis of my book? If I change in a way you don’t expect? If I stand for something, or if I don’t? What will you think of me?
Growing up, I never felt I fully fit in, but in those formative years, I suspect a persisting sense of naivety served as a buffer for how I viewed the rest of the world. A lack of thought of what might ensue should I express myself a certain way, or an ignorance to the polarization going on around me.
I tend to be an idealist, a romanticist. I lean further toward the idea that humanity is beautiful in its fallenness, and I often forget how incredibly awful this fallenness can be.
But as I have grown up, I am seeing more of the dark side of human nature, and it is increasingly difficult to keep my faith in humanity.
If not for my friends and family, I may have completely lost it by now.
As I’ve been stepping into social justice issues this semester, the selfish question of peer opinion has risen up stronger than before, and I feel its cold hands around my throat, squeezing my mind and trying to drag me back out of the light I find myself in.
What will you think of me? If I open my mind to the point of risking being wrong? If I align myself simultaneously with two polarized groups? If I push for something better, something more audacious, something far over our heads? If, despite all the insecurities buffeting me, I choose to stand? If I become hated for fighting for what I believe in, something you may not agree with? If I deviate? If I do something drastic? As I grapple with unanswerable questions and take action to try to seek reconciliation and connection, what will you think of me?
Will you hate me?
Will you be embarrassed for me?
Will you support me?
I can’t expect applause. I can’t depend on approbation.
But I don’t want to hurt anyone. I’ve always been a people-pleaser, but a passive one. I avoid stepping on toes as best as possible by instead hanging in the background, far away from where the dances are taking place. The causes, the arguments, the opposition. If people want to argue, let them argue. But I won’t get involved.
But will anything get resolved that way? Aren’t we all called to be peacemakers in some respect?
And as I move into matters I’m definitely not prepared for, I am increasingly aware of the option of my dark corner, a band-aid refuge of ignorance and apathy. In light of recent happenings overwhelming and distressing me, I feel exposed, and I have been glancing that direction quite a bit.
Is it too late to turn back, I wonder. Is it too late to pull away and pretend none of this turmoil ever happened? Most of the time, I just want to run.
But once an idea is formed, it cannot be unmade. There are too many things we can’t unsee once our attentions have been brought to them. While I could retreat, I would forever squirm under the restless frustration of having been able to do something, but of staying silent in favor of self-preservation.
So I stand up.
And the insecurities assail me:
They will hate you.
You will drive people away.
You will destroy the pretty illusion of your sheltered life.
You will lose hope in humanity.
There is no point to your involvement.
You are alone.
But still I stand here.
Tentative and terrified, but I’m not running.