Sunday, 8 September 2013

Being True To Myself

I fell in love with the new Promise for Girlguiding the minute that I heard (or rather, read) it. Personal, inclusive, it was everything that I had hoped for; a commitment that both my friends and I could make on equal footing.

Except I haven't yet.

It may seem odd to some that such a vocal supporter of the new wording has yet to renew her Promise, but the simple fact is that I'm not sure I'm ready.

I fully intended to renew on Cardiff Bay at midnight, the moment it came into effect. It would have combined my Showmasters family with my Guiding family, at a significant place and time. It would have been quite perfect. But my friends were drunk and I was unwell, so it fell through.

The next plan was to sit with my counsellor and renew it in session, because some of the wording rang true with our journey and our discussions. And it just so happened that she started to talk about being true to oneself, making me smile and we talked about what it meant to each of us.

So far in Guiding, I've heard people talk about being true to oneself as being about integrity and standing up for one's beliefs, but to me it's more than that. It's so much more personal, and somehow harder than promising to love my God (though, really, the latter does encompass the former).

Being true to myself involves knowledge of who I am, it means understanding myself as a person. Not just in terms of my moral compass and my framework for life, or my spiritual life, but it means understanding my emotions, my feelings, caring for and connecting with myself.

It's something that I have struggled with a lot throughout my journey with D. I much prefer to bury emotional responses, to assign a logical reason for everything, and I have to constantly remind myself that it's okay not to be perfect, and it's fine to feel. I'm at a place now where I do challenge myself about how I feel, I am more aware of what I want, what I fear and it's all part of building and maintaining a relationship with myself.

Those relationships are so important for our young members to develop, given that it's something that society almost encourages us to bury. Constant reminders to "grow up", "stop being a baby" or "grow a pair" constrain us and hinder our journey with ourselves.

It's the aspect of the Promise that is (and will probably remain) the most poignant for me, and I desperately want to be able to make it. But after sitting for an hour, struggling to vocalise my current predicament, trying to be "strong" and "independent", I realised that it's not a commitment I was quite ready to make at that point, that I would feel hypocritical promising to be true to myself when I was doing everything in my power not to be.

But, of course, that's where the other essential part of our Promise comes into effect. Because I'm not meant to be perfect, I'm not meant to be superwoman. I am just me - a girl with a lot of baggage - and our Promise reflects that too. Because I'm not promising to "be true to myself" at all, I'm promising "to do my best to be true to myself", and that is a very different thing indeed.

Despite the arguments I've heard, it makes perfect sense that being true to oneself exists within the framework of the Promise and Law. We put so much emphasis on looking outward in Guiding - we develop our beliefs, serve our community and help others - but we have to remember to care for and retain a sense of self throughout that. Without understanding our needs, our desires, our feelings and our own sense of right and wrong, we can't go out into the world and make the change that we want to see.

I hope that in the coming weeks, I will feel able to renew my Promise. I hope that I will find the right place, time, context and that I will be comfortable making that commitment to continue that relationship with myself as well as with my God.

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