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War Paint

There are times when this world feels so hard to live in. There is an overwhelming plague of sadness, of terror, of greed and of separation. It seems, at times, that the good is always outweighed by the bad. When all we’re fed by the media is fear and darkness, we disconnect ourselves from the feeling of hope, and we loosen our grip on the hands of light that are reaching out to us.

Oftentimes, I hear people ask the question “why do bad things happen to good people?”, and the truth as I see it is that we’ll never know. It’s disheartening to see people around me break under the pressure of day-to-day challenges and the feeling that life is out to get them. I too have asked the emptiness around me to reason with me; to give me an explanation as to why obstacles appear on my path, just as it starts to clear.

The archetypal way of dealing with our looming feelings of despair, is to not deal with them. We complete our nine-to-five routine, whether it’s a day at the office or a day full of spontaneous decisions, we do whatever we can to mask our feelings and to play make believe. Whether we’re advised by our peers, the media or our own egos, there is typically a voice that says, “paint on a smile, nobody cares to see you weak”.

The words “I’m fine” leave our mouths like they’re our mother tongue. We echo those words so much, that we could paint ourselves blue with the remnants that they leave behind. Every feeling that we push down eventually makes it’s way to the surface.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of dancing in this masquerade; this ongoing cycle of suppressing our emotions, exploding, suppressing our emotions, exploding, and so on.

Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re doing it. We might deny our own emotions and dim our own expression to accommodate other people, but ultimately, we become our own ableist, in the “I accidently started masking” sense. It’s easy to go by your life, not even knowing that you’ve been faking it so much that you lose sense of your own identity.

The key to unlocking the parts of ourselves that we’re always suppressing – whether we mean to or not – is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. It’s easier said than done, but that doesn’t mean it’s a battle we cannot win. Then, there’s letting go of the shame and embarrassment that might follow revealing our vulnerable side. When we learn to let go, we become beacons of hope for other people. It's a cheesy, Disney-like way of seeing things, but it helps me to think that way when I'm not in the trenches of my ego.

There are those of us who will hold on to the Yin and neglect the Yang. Then, there are of those of us who will hold on to the Yang and neglect the Yin. When we reach out to one and not the other, we’re stopping ourselves from being truly vulnerable and from beginning to heal.

What I’m trying to express is that we have to accept the good and bad, the light and the dark, the Yin and the Yang, to be vulnerable in the most beautiful way. We can acknowledge the darkness and embrace our own shadow, while simultaneously standing in the light, because embracing the darker aspect of ourselves and of the world around us, can open us up to a whole new level of love and compassion – for others, and for the world.

We don’t have to wear warpaint to be warriors, especially when we can become dependent on having something to hide behind. Our strength is revealed in unbecoming everything that we think we should be, and in unravelling all of the charades and gimmicks to let our true selves finally take centre stage.

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