Director Greg Berlanti’s “Love, Simon” (2018) is one of my all-time favorite movies. In “Love, Simon” someone outs 17-year-old Simon, played by Nick Robinson. Simon yells in anger, “That’s supposed to be my thing!” He was robbed of his voice, of his choice.
In the aftermath of his vindictive outing in the Creek Wood High social media website, Simon tells his parents Jack and Emily, played by Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, on Christmas morning, “I’m gay. And I don’t want you guys to think anything different. I’m still me.” Simon is so brave, so vulnerable. Finally, he gets to breathe. Simon gets to just be.
Later, Simon asks his mom, Emily, played by kind, wise Jennifer Garner, if she knew that he was gay. She answers, “No.” She knew Simon had “a secret”. When Simon was little he was “so carefree”. She says, “But these last few years, it was like I could feel you [Simon] holding your breath…” When Simon said, “I’m still me.” she knew he would be okay.
Emily touchingly reminds, “You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been in… in a very long time. You deserve everything you want.” Simon can now be his most authentic self. Whatever that may be.
In his website post to the students and teachers of Creek Wood High School, Simon writes, “Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying, ’cause what if the world doesn’t like you?” His words profoundly landed for me while watching “Love, Simon” in the movie theater.
Regardless of your sexual orientation, each of us sometimes fears being our authentic selves because others might laugh, others might hate, others might not love you. That’s so very human. Just saying.
As human beings, we all deserve to be loved for who we are and for who we’re not. We risk being our authentic ourselves to be loved. Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” That too, might be the poetic rub. Our authentic self takes courage, taking a stand, which ain’t always easy to do. Our most authentic selves takes hard work and a lot of practice. More than just saying.
Years ago, I fell in love with Royanne. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in love with me. No one’s fault. That’s just life happening, unfolding. Yet, being young and stupid at the time, I made it mean: “No one would ever fall in love with me.” Consequently, I didn’t date for years. I lost my most authentic self.
At the time I looked outside of myself, instead of looking within me. I had sentenced myself: “I’m not good enough” for most of my life. Working with my Therapist Lance, I distinguished my sentence wasn’t self-imposed, rather my Dad had imposed his sentence when I was 8 years old.
As I started to love and forgive myself, I began accepting myself unconditionally and loving myself unconditionally. As I altered that voice in my head to “I’m okay”, I started making a difference for others by being as authentic as I could be.
In Aikido, Mizukami Sensei said, “Just train.” I just train to be ‘more me than I have been in a very long time.’ Like Simon, I get to exhale. I get to breathe. When I hear that familiar voice in my head, “You’re not enough”, I listen to Sensei; I listen to Mom. Sensei said, “You’re a better teacher than me.” Mom said, “I’m proud of you.” Love and forgiveness. I’m kinder to me. Cheryl reminds, “Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.” Amen.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said, “The most powerful thing we can be is ourselves.” The Rock knows. He’s the 6’4”, 275-pound professional wrestler who became the Highest-Paid Movie Star on Planet Earth. According to Dwayne, there’s the other side of “being your authentic self”, that’s where “the gold is.” He said, “You bring everyone with you.” That’s how we can have true global influence.
I don’t know about my true global influence, yet. Still, I’m as authentic as I can be. Fortunately, I’ve been afforded the generous platform to write about creating our next greater-than versions, from our individual Zeroes, our starting points. I ain’t about being the GOAT (Greatest of All-time). I keep grinding out my greater-than versions. I keep trying.
What’s my most authentic self? Perhaps, doing what I love for as long as I can. That’s my passion for writing. That’s Aikido. Aikido is my first love. My mad love and respect for the late Mizukami Sensei make Aikido meaningful. Sensei granted me the space to be my authentic self. He saw my greater-than version that I didn’t always see. He became the Father I needed to evolve into a good man. I honor Sensei by passing on all that I got from him, whether that’s teaching in the Dojo or guiding young Lieutenant John in the Government Satellite business. I always love Sensei.
As my most authentic self, “I don’t care” about others’ judgment, so long as I have compassion for them and myself. I do my best. In Aikido, I can throw the 250-pound man attacking me. I love romantic comedies like “Booksmart” and “The Devil Wears Prada”. I love cooking food my Mom made when I was a kid. I love eating hamachi sashimi. That’s all me.
On Match dot com, I risk falling in love. I’m not handsome. I’m short. I’m not rich. So I don’t get a lot of responses back from women I send messages to. In fact, some responses are unkind, putting it very kindly. Oh, well. What am I gonna do? I’ll be as authentic as I can be. Nothing’s personal. I move on.
The freedom to be my most authentic self reveals joy and fun. I’ll see the greater-than in others, like what Sensei and Mom did for me. Mad love and respect for others.
My most authentic self takes practice, and more practice. Yet, my most authentic self can make a difference for others. Perhaps, living in our “worst of times” in the COVID-19 pandemic, making a difference for others matters even more so. The Rock said, “We bring everyone with us.” Because we love. Because we’re all part of the Human Family.
The world ain’t all about you or me. Rather, the world is all of us evolving our greater-than versions, arising all together to make the world a greater place. Amen. Amen.
Watch the official trailer for the movie:
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Photo credit: Screenshot from the official movie trailer