I like to think of myself as a clean person – my apartment might be messy but not dirty. My clothes are always matching and clean and appropriate to the occasion. My nails are polished and I even keep the bills in my wallet in the right order. I’d never wear the same clothes two days on a row and can’t stand cracking finger nails or unevenly done make-up – including on others.
How then, am I having the time of my life on a dive boat, being wet all day, with messy hair and greasy face? Needing no toiled paper for days, eating dry rice, spitting on my mask, skin cracking on fingers? Things that in slightest moderation on my city life would drive me nuts, don’t bother me the least when I’m on a dive boat.
It’s liberating. Many people have multiple sides in them, and mine are clearly divided between the city-girl and the diver. Allowing your different layers to bloom at their times, cherishing the ability to shift in between, enables a deep dive into our who we are. Our true selves don’t need to be easy to define, nor present at every single moment.
There needs to be no holding back on exploring out the potential of our many sides, the known or yet unknown ones. Outsiders’ perceptions of us ought not to hold us back. I once was on a dive boat with a friend from a city, who was new to this side of me. When she saw me spitting after coming up from a dive, she was horrified and told me that’s not “lady like”. It was absurd, not only the fact that she’d expect me to behave like a lady on a dive boat, but the fact that she seemed to think of me as a “lady”. It’s definitely not a term I’d use to describe myself, not even the city me. But that shows how differently people look at us, how they think of us. Those who only know one side of me, don’t really know me much at all.
Embracing and understanding the many layers we have, is a great gift and allows us to enjoy a very diverse life. It also allows space in our lives for many different types of people. There are people with whom I enjoy eating a Sunday brunch in a city, but would not choose to go on a dive trip with. Others are splendid company for a hike or a dive trip but would be out of place on a wine and cheese night. Shrek said it so well, “ogres are like onions, they have layers.” It’s a blessing to not be bound down to one lifestyle, one type of people, one setting for the life.
For in one person, I am many.