Stay Obscure: Keep the Beautiful Parts of Yourself
YOUR OBSCURITIES MATTER
I’m not talking about staying obscure in the sense of having a false humility. When I say “obscure,” I’m talking about maintaining those small, obscure intricacies that are a part of who you are. Maintaining and holding onto those itty bitty, but packed-full-of-important things that make you like yourself and make you distinctly yourself. Holding onto your own obscurities. Because they are what make you you. And they are worth holding onto.
An amazingly beautiful quote comes to mind that goes along with saving those beautiful, small parts of yourself and not cutting them off to fit with the main, with the established normal. This quote is from Good Will Hunting:
“Sean: My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her. Oh!
Will: She woke herself up?
Sean: Ah...! But Will, she’s been dead for 2 years, and that's the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that's what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but they’re not. Ah, that's the good stuff.”
(Robin Williams as Sean McGuire, Matt Damon as Will Hunting.)
That’s the good stuff.
The parts of yourself that you’re tempted to cut off to fit into the way you’d like yourself to be. Those are the good parts of knowing you. They’re not all perfect, but they’re obscurely beautiful, and they’re little rewards for the people who know you really well. They’re the parts of you that people who understand who you are notice, and they’re worth keeping. Keep your obscurities. Stay obscure in that way.
SMALL THINGS MATTER
I have a knack for picking out the least important parts of movies and quoting them.
“Do you remember in You’ve Got Mail the way she says those two words? It’s the best part of the movie.”
Usually, the person I’m talking to (even if it’s my brother, who has over-analyzed and relished in the glory of You’ve Got Mail with me for years upon years) doesn’t remember the exact way that Meg Ryan said that one line.
And, even worse than that, there aren’t words for me to unpack how much that small moment meant to me. There’s a bold sense of wonder caught up in just a few seconds that can’t be unpacked or described. It’s an overarching feeling of adorableness or joy or something that’s so particular to that character that I caught in those few seconds, and there’s no way for me to describe that small feeling that… somehow… felt so important at the time and caught my attention.
I find joy in the idiosyncrasies.
And the small things matter the most to me.
How that light hits that corner right there. That’s what matters.
How they said that one little word differently than they could have and how it changed the meaning completely and was so “them”. That’s what matters to me.
How those three words were phrased in that book that had a lot of glory packed into just a very small part of the book. That mattered in some small way.
Where that table is positioned in that coffee shop is so beautiful and homey and welcoming, and I think it just might change how I write to be right in that little niche. It won’t be the end of the world if I don’t sit there, but sometimes little things like that matter to me. And joy can be found in the small idiosyncrasies of life. And that can matter sometimes.
It’s okay and good to revel in little things.
They can bring so much joy.
Yes, who we are and the big-picture life we live matters, but it’s okay to love the small things too (almost just as much :). To take joy in making the small things in life how you like it. Noticing the way the wind blows across the grass and makes a beautiful cross-hatching pattern can bring joy in the moment that thinking of your big-picture purpose might not be able to bring in that moment.
The idiosyncrasies of our character and the small parts of life that we just barely take the time to notice- those are the moments that allow us to catch our breath. They are small and endearing, and fully worth attention.
Those small parts of you- they’re worth knowing. They’re almost a reward for knowing you deeply. Don’t lop those parts of you off one-by-one. They are treasures found by those who spend a lot of time with you. And they make you obscurely, in an undeniably beautiful way. Who you are.
For much of my life, I have felt slightly awkward. I’m bad at small talk (and, likewise, first impressions). I like talking about meaningful things straight-away when I meet someone, but, at the same time, because I notice the small things in life, those small, unimportant things will suprisingly come up in my head in the middle of conversation without warning and interrupt the flow of seriousness. Most of the time I don’t know what to do with myself. And I laugh at myself. And am still figuring out how to be confident in my own skin and just let the obscurities be what they are. To let the awkwardness settle into assured confidence. One day…
This post, in fact, has helped me work through a bit of that. Writing this has helped me find joy in the parts of myself that are tempting to try and make “normal” so that I can feel more comfortable with myself around people.
I’ve started to find joy in my obscurities.
Let’s keep our obscurities.
I’ve been thinking lately about how multifaceted people are and how being with certain people brings out certain facets that are only noticeable in the presence of another person. For example, there are facets of my being that come out when I hang out with my friend Krystiana that aren’t as fully present as when I hang out with anyone else. And the same goes for her probably when she hangs out with other people. There are certain aspects of our friendship and who we are that are brought out when we are around certain people and that just don’t show up around others. When I’m around Krystiana, I tend to think more analytically and I consider the root truths of everything that we talk about. Usually, hanging out with her brings out my love for literature and seriousness analyzation- but in a way that is a true breath of fresh air. She’s my friend that understands and revels in words. We can talk about deep, beautiful things and unpack a bit of glory found in one sentence, or word, together. For example, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with Krystiana right now (where, just so you know, there are stained glass windows where the sun shines through beautifully and shines colored light on the tables… beauty), and I just shared with Krystiana one minute ago how I absolutely love the word, “idiosyncrasy” and how, when I looked up the meaning of that word, I was surprised at how much beautiful meaning is packed into that one word. And she reveled in that word with me for a moment. And smiled. And enjoyed it with me. And understood. We get to talk about those small things together. And it matters immensely to us, even though it’s something small. I normally might not bring up how beautiful that one word is with another friend, but I glory in the fact that I can share that with her. She gets that part of me. And I bring it out more often with her, because we share it. Because we both will enjoy it and get to love that word together.
My love for a particular word (analyzing words is an obscurity of mine) would not have come up had Krystiana not been here. Because when I’m around her, I notice words better and analyze them more intently. I oftentimes wouldn’t notice those things or bring them up with others, because I know they wouldn’t revel in them like I did. It’s not being two-faced; it’s a beautiful multifacetedness and small part of myself that is best brought out when she is around.
There are certain properties and obscurities that we bring out in each other. And we need to keep our obscurities and notice those beautiful things. We shine light on each others’ amazingly beautiful differences. And as we are in the presence of a variety of people who bring out different facets of who we are, in knowing them, we know ourselves better. This is why we need community. And we need not hack away at the obscurities in us that are a part of who we are- they are the characteristics that are needed to bring out something beautiful in someone else. That small part of you might just be needed to bring another friend alive in a certain way that only you can.
Your obscurities can be useful and beautiful. And they shine in community. They are definitely worth keeping. For your sake and for the sake of others who need to discover themselves through knowing you. We are uniquely ourselves, obscurities and all. Let’s stay obscure. Let’s stay multifaceted. Let’s not remove our dimensionality in order to fit in with the mold. Are obscurities are our glory. What a joy.
God, thank you for the small parts of us. Thank You for helping us revel in them and praise You for even the small ways You made us. God, I think about paintings and how I create- how sometimes when I paint something, I find a small part of the painting that is just glorious and beautiful in a completely different way than the painting is as a whole. I glory in those small, beautiful, surprising brushstrokes. And I know that You glory in us, Your creation, in the same way. You made us, small parts and all. There are details of who we are that You took intentional time to make and that, when You were finished, you reveled in. They have a place in the whole painting of who we are. Some parts of who we are might jut out or surprise people, whereas other small parts are quietly beautiful and pleasant, but we decide to keep all of who You made us to be- as a testimony to the foresight of the Creator who had a purpose for that small part of us. You relish in those obscurities that you painted in when You made us. Not one is wasted. Thank You, Jesus, for aligning my mind about myself with You. You are so holy and undeniably good.
Jesus, we want to know You better. We want to know You so well that we notice the small idiosyncrasies of you that catch our breath and surprise us- those small, beautiful treasures that are packed into knowing You. Man, you’re beautiful. You are beautiful and multifaceted and glorious. We want to know all of You. Every last small bit. Thank You, Jesus.
Read the previous post in the Stay series here.