So many feel like they don’t “fit” into the frame. They feel different, perhaps out of place. They struggle for awhile, perhaps for a lifetime, with never fully feeling accepted, valued, appreciated, and seen for who they truly are.
Granted, some of these feelings can swell up from an internal struggle with unaddressed insecurities, fears, and traumas. We all have these inner battlegrounds, but for some, these battles are only intensified due to outer demands for conformity, and dutiful obligations to become “acceptable” to the critics in charge.
These critics can be subtle – and may come in the form of trying to keep us from harm, ridicule, and shame. After all, approval is a powerful desire.
However, an officer within the Navy Seals recently shared with me that during their “hell week” training there are two takes for the ones who seek to “blend in” and play it safe – the ones they call “gray man”.
The gray man seeks to avoid attention. They work to avoid standing out as either too strong, or too weak in the eyes of others in order to keep from drawing attention to themselves – they want to make it through as unnoticed as possible.
Some applaud this as an asset, and perhaps at times it can be, but this particular Seal claimed it was a trait that cost him much dishonor, until he ultimately realized it was something he had to break away from.
Why? Because, it was not being true to who he was – he was hiding, and as an authentic leader, he had to acquire the courage to “burn his mask”.
Likewise, this is a challenge and opportunity for most of us – to be bold, to be honest, and to be you.
There is a unique freedom we experience when we avoid the temptation to be the “gray man” or to “fit the frames” built for us. For it forces us to face our insecurities, our fears, and their origins.
This helps us know ourselves at deeper levels so that when these feelings arise, we can better deal with them in healthier ways that don’t keep us from authenticity, but rather, bring out the real you, the better you, the true you.
I believe, God heals our hearts and helps draw us out, not to be suppressed “gray men”, but the unique, diverse, and beautiful creations He loves, and desires to spend time with.