My husband came home yesterday talking about a t-shirt he saw with an unusual message. It was worn by a hefty, slightly disheveled young man of around 19 or 20. He sat down at a table in a cafeteria with his back to my husband. His t-shirt said, "It's better to be hated for being who you are than to be loved for being who you're not."
I'd never seen that message on a t-shirt before and it struck me as pretty profound. As children, many of us find ourselves being the person that we think we need to be in order to fit in. Sometimes we don't outgrow that behavior.
I grew up a "people pleaser," wanting to be liked. For years I molded myself to play whatever part people wanted me to play in their life. This was especially true with men.
In my first marriage, I tried to be the obedient wife who stayed home, cooked and cleaned. My first husband loved having me waiting for him at home with dinner on the table. It reminded him of his own mother, I think. There was only so much cleaning I could do, so I began to watch "General Hospital" and sing along with Carole King on the stereo. Depressed and ten pounds heavier than before I'd gotten married, I couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror. I couldn't remember who I was anymore.
One day I stood my ground with my husband and told him that I was getting a job. I saw an ad in the paper for Gloria Marshall Figure Salon. They were looking for a counselor. I applied and got the job. My husband was not happy with me, but I was finally feeling good about myself. Each day, I came home with a feeling of satisfaction and, even though my paycheck was small, it added to my sense of accomplishment.
My first marriage barely lasted a year. There were times that I felt guilty about going against my husband's wishes and getting a job. But I had to be true to who I was and not settle for my first husband's idea of what a wife should be.
In Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love, she wrote that people had often asked her about surrendering their lives to God, asking such things as, "I'm a musician--what if He wants me to be an accountant?" Marianne's response was, "Why would He? Wouldn't He rather have someone who understands numbers do that job?"
Each of us is born with special gifts, passions and talents. These are a compass to us as we head out into the world. We're always going to get messages from the outside world about how we should look, dress, what career we should pursue. But listening to our heart and being our authentic self will bring us true happiness in the long run.
And as for me...I'm now happily married to a man who loves me for the person that I am. There are no hoops to jump through or parts to play. I am me, imperfections and all, and that's okay with him.