How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? Remember that commercial? Some say two licks, some say more than three. I say that it all depends on how quickly you want to get to the middle, or if you rather take your time to savor all of the layers to get to the center.
Much like the Tootsie Roll pop, we all have layers to our soul, to our center. These layers are sometimes hidden deep beneath other layers that to the naked eye they are not easily visible. Most people put up a wall to protect the layers that they don’t want others to see. I would call this, showing your “representative.” Have you heard of that before? Your representative self is you but a scaled down version of you that only shows what you want the world to see. Often, your representative is not exactly the best version of who you really are. In fact, your representative sometimes gives people a false sense of who you are. Your representative allows others to have this perceived “idea” of you that quite frankly may not be accurate.
For example, I had a co-worker who I’ve worked with before or rather we worked at the same company but had very limited interaction. The reason why we had limited interaction is because she hardly ever smiled and always had this “resting bitch look” on her face. You know the one that has zero emotion? Based on that, I didn’t feel the need to try to get to know her. Then about 6 months or so, she ends up working at the same place as me again and working on my team. I was not excited to see her because I felt like she had zero personality and perhaps had a bad attitude. Because we were now on the same team I was forced to have to work with her. Working with her meant that I was forced to talk to her. As months went by I realized that she and I had a lot in common. In fact, we had similar work styles and experiences. She was so easy to talk to. I also discovered that she was very funny. Her humor was a bit dry, just like mine. So, after pulling back a few layers, we were able to establish a relationship rather quickly. Unfortunately, after about 6 months she decided to leave the company for another opportunity. We decided that we would continue our friendship and get together at least once a month.
At our first get together we decided to meet up for dinner and drinks. We had a great time talking about work, love, God relationships etc.. Then there was a point in the conversation when she revealed to me something very personal which she thought that I already knew. She told me that she had a child, but lost her. She assumed that I already knew that…. but I didn’t. She told me what she and her husband went through. After she told me that, she went on to tell me how she and her husband lost a second child. I was trying to keep my composure while she was sharing her story with me. While she was talking, I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world she was able to get through losing two children? But as she told her story she talked about how God (even in the midst of it all) was there and had favor over her life during the most difficult times in her life.
He placed people in her life to help her and her husband get through the loss as well as he poured out so many financial blessing to help with the cost of hospital bills etc… And somehow through it all she is still standing. Her love of God and with the support of her husband, family and therapy she has been able to make it through. I was so amazed by her story. Her story put some things in perspective for me. I told her thank you for sharing because she didn’t have to do it.
I decided to tell you this story, because in my 40s I have learned to try ( I sometimes fall short) and look past the representative because we all have layers that make up who we are. You see…my friend was walking around with this look on her face and I had no idea what was behind those eyes or what was in her inner being and soul. Who knows what she has to tell herself every day when she wakes up in the morning to make it. What if those times that I saw her with the blank look on her face, she was thinking about her children that didn’t make it? What if she was thinking about everything that she’s been through? The bottom line is you never know the layers of another person. I will leave this thought with you, take the time to peel back the layers to get to know someone, because you never know what that person has been through. I will also leave this with you, don’t be afraid to show your authentic self, not the representative. You never know if the layers of your story can help someone else out, including yourself.
“It’s our challenges and obstacles that give us layers of depth and make us interesting,” – Ellen DeGeneres.