Will you let me see beneath your beautiful?

By September 18, 2019 2 Comments

I dont know about you, but I am exhausted. I am drained. Depleted. Running on empty. This heavy armour I we wear is taking its toll. It is relentless because I cannot take it off anymore even when I am alone at home. (My mother-in-law has newly discovered FaceTime video. We live in the same 20km radius. I will leave it at that.)

I borrow the term armour from Brene Brown. The armour is intertwined with any discussion on vulnerability, fear, courage, and the arena. Notice that it is impossible to wear the armour in any state of vulnerability, fear, courage, and the arena. These also happen to be the sacred grounds from which triumph, growth, connection, and joy arise.

From the looks of it, our world is moving further and further away from joy. We are suffocating under the life-sucking weight of our armour and the filth and trash we are piling up around us to keep us company.

A number of years ago, Democratic presidential contender and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson unraveled in front of an audience in Amman, Jordan. She let a Freudian slip slip. (To make a long story short, after lecturing the audience in her beautiful armour about love, compassion, and forgiveness, she declared she was a peace-loving Zionist. I am not much of a history buff, but I do believe this to be an oxymoron. It is the equivalent of saying one is a gentle racist or animal-loving carnivore.) The ensuing face-off was rattling for her and uncomfortable for all. I was more interested in the aftermath. I felt this to be a very valuable lesson in vulnerability and courage for all. I closely followed her response days after, starting with her initial social media apology and reflection. Unfortunately, it seemed her fingers on the keyboard were weighed down with her ever-thickening armour.

Fast forward a few years, and she is on the world stage armour and all teaching us more about love, peace, and the dark forces. Her social media feed has been cleared of all vestiges of that evening in Jordan. Clean slate for a clean, light candidate running for love.

I watched her unravel again on Anderson Coopers 360 recently, this time discussing the contradiction between her armoured positions on mental illness and drugs. Same person. Same heavy armour, all cracks renovated and sealed. Slightly different plot line. No one is buying it.

But this is really not about Marianne Williamson. This is about showing up in all our unglorified glory and speaking from the heart. Even when it scares us. Especially when it scares us. The truth is, she could have just said she didnt know. She could have said she needed time to reflect and consider her words. Instead, she said she should have been more sensitive to her audience, speak for a better armour.

It has occurred to me that honesty, a little ugliness, and simplicity have become rare. A reporter recently interviewed me about my vegan lifestyle and fitness routine. I felt it essential to tell her that my eyes and brain connection was more or less intact, especially in light of my green life. I see very clearly. I understand that my body shape and size are not exactly modelling material, nor are they the talk of fitness and health magazines. To many, fitness and Khadija might be an oxymoron too, despite the fact that I can probably outrun every person featured on their pages. Sigh. I heard her shock in the breath she took after I made my comment. I also heard the sincerity of her thanks when we finished our interview. She was obviously taken aback by my candour, not so much by the information I gave her which is readily available for anyone with functioning digits.

These last couple of years, I have spent much energy on advocating for personal growth. My message was from the heart: start with yourself. Nurture your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Dont worry about the outside, it will take care of itself. I have tried as much as I can to be as armour-free as possible. In my effort to burn my armour, my message today is the exact opposite: be concerned about everything around you, especially and most importantly that heavy thing we wear all the time. It slows us down. It is a hungry, insatiable beast. (It is just like Botox. I will leave it at that.)

The 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg said it best recently:

“Please save your praise, we dont want it. Dont invite us here to tell us how inspiring we are without doing anything about it. It doesnt lead to anything.

She is too young for armour and botox. I can hear the shock in world leaders breaths every time she opens her mouth. Her honesty is sobering. It is also honest.

We have never needed more honest honesty than we do today. Before we teach our children math, can we teach them that littering adds up? Before we preach from pulpits about moralityand forgiveness, can we look in the mirror? Before we ask for equal pay, can we ask for equal love?

I dont know about you, but I am drained. I have no energy to try to see beneath your beautiful. I need your help. I know you want to be seen, to be heard, to be loved. I do too. Can you help me cut to the chase? Will you please leave your armour at the door and tell me how you are really doing?



  • Ursula says:

    I feel you Khadija…. last night I was tossing and turning in bed with a heavy weight on my chest, asking myself ” how did I get so lost?… who am I underneath all the heavy layers ( in other words, armour)? And why can’t I figure out what I really want?”
    I feel this is a heavily charged moment of transformation at every level and it’s very difficult ult to navigate unless we strip down…. but how do we do it and still function on the material reality? Sometimes I feel split in two, my deeper self and my,as you call it armoured self, how do we combine the two? Can we? I too, my dear friend, feel exhausted…..

Leave a Reply