I recently stayed in a hotel that was having a huge comic book convention, Comicon.
One morning I was making way down the hall to the elevator and I watched a young boy stomping towards the elevator with his dad. He was wearing one of those Dr. Who bathrobes. I am supposing this was his costume for the day, but his demeanor suggested he wasn’t feeling too sure of it anymore. I imagined that when he put this overly large robe on in his hotel room and belted it at the waist that he was thinking he looked rather awesome. But once he had to make that walk downstairs to the party, he tucked himself away inside. His head was down, He wouldn’t look up and he shuffled along beside his father. His discomfort was palpable. That joy and bravado has a way of fading, once you leave your comfort zone.
I know how that feels.
You get all dolled up in something you truly love, or maybe it’s something you think you have to wear, and you think you look fantastic, or at least good enough, when you gaze at your efforts in the mirror. But then you have to expose your vulnerability to the public and nothing you’ve done right seems good enough anymore.
I walked through the throng of folks at this convention and marvelled at the finery they had gone to great pains to put on for everyone that day. Some of the costumes were quite elaborate and some of them were just Pokemon hoodies. I watched one teenager staring at a brilliant Snow White as she breezed by and could almost read her mind, “When I grow up, I’m going to have a costume just like that!”
I could feel the awkward shyness of the kids that were disembarking at the curb to go into the convention, where they could be among the likeminded and feel acceptance. Until they went through those front doors, you could almost see how uncomfortable they were to be out in the real world on a regular day, in their costume, in a public place, where no one else was wearing a costume. But once inside, they visibly relaxed. They smiled, they laughed and they posed for pictures together. They made it! They were safe from ridicule.
I know that feeling.
It doesn’t even have to be a costume that makes us feel like pariahs, even though there are huge celebrations that mandate one. At Halloween we dress up as characters because it’s socially acceptable, but even then we have those people that sneer and judge and snicker as we walk past them. It could be your first business suit, which is never comfortable, or a new bathing suit, which really exposes us, or the first time you walk in heels.
A costume can be anything we wear on any day of the week.
If you think there is ever a time in your life that there won’t be someone waiting in the shadows to judge you, I am here to tell you that these kinds of people are always there. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, they are there. The trick is making it past them without allowing any of their bitter resentment touch us.
Trust me, their cat calls and sideways eye rolls are nothing more than jealousy.
You want to know how I know that?
Because it’s the truth.
Donning attire or a persona that is not of the norm for us is a very brave thing to do. Expressing ourselves is courageous. It makes others that might be too uptight or stifled, uncomfortable and the only thing they can think to do to alleviate this feeling is to lash out at anyone who dares to be different.
They envy that.
They fear it.
There is only one time in my life that I have covered myself in finery and flounce and have not cared one fig what anyone thought of me that day. I was nervous getting dressed and it showed, but once I had everything all buttoned and zipped, I was ready to take my walk into the public eye. Nothing anyone could say or do would make the pure joy in my heart dim. I was giddy with happiness. I was filled to the brim with love and the only person I could see that day was the man I was going to marry.
This is what I wish for anyone that dares to be someone or something different on any given day. I wish them a heart full of love and bubbling joy. I wish them the knowledge that no matter what anyone else says or does, that to give yourself up to what your heart wants is to live the rest of your life loving who you are and the person that allows you the freedom to express it.
This is Madeline Laughs and I’d like for each of you to do a little something this week that challenges the people around you to be a little more daring and REAL too. It’s good for you. It’s good for the planet.
I think a tutu on my next trip to the supermarket is a must-do!!