Mitigation

I am attention grabbing by nature.

I’m tall and ‘attractive’, to kick things off. I like to wear bright colours, and items that would generally be considered statements. I have big eyes, and I use them extensively. My walk is more of a dance to the music, and I’m often grinning for no good reason. I might be singing. I’m very expressive, and I like to exhibit myself. I am inclined to obliviously defy hierarchy. I interrupt excitedly because I already know how the sentence ends and it’s given me an idea. I gesticulate profusely. Once I start talking, most people label me intelligent. My opinions are usually outlandish, complex and challenging.

Except, most of the time, if you actually see me, I’m not sure you’d notice me doing any of this stuff. Because, whilst I read that description and like this person already, I have invested a great deal into mitigating all of it in myself. Ashamedly shirking the attention my traits would have me grab. Mitigating my nature. Not because I don’t like me, and, looking back on it, not because other people don’t like me either. Just because I never knew how to handle the attention, or the effect I had on other people.

Quite a long time ago, I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped wearing colours. I stopped talking unless someone expressly asked me to. And, to this day, I’m almost constantly monitoring my own behaviour when out in public.

I’ve been working to undo a lot of my acts of self-diminishment, but they’re fucking engrained little fuckers. I’m not sure I’ll ever be complete.

I was walking to the shop earlier. I had my music loud and no-one was around. Life was good. And then, at some point, I spotted a guy headed my way. And I toned down my swagger, lest it be too noticeable to him. Lest it cause him to make comment. Lest I leave an impression.

Later, when I was walking down the high street, there were suddenly lots of people around, so I suppressed my joyful glee at being alive and moving, lest I cause someone to question it – be that outwardly or inwardly. Lest my defiant difference make somebody uncomfortable.

When I catch myself, I try to reverse it, because it’s stupid and unhelpful. But the effort is lacking. It’s like I’m faking the thing that I stifled that was so authentically me.

We must all do this; we must. It can’t just be me. But we mustn’t do this. We mustn’t. The world needs us to be more, not less.