Be YO Self

 I'm far from perfect as you can plainly see...

I'm far from perfect as you can plainly see...

Let go of the desire to be anything but your truest self.
 ... But I gotta be me...

... But I gotta be me...

 ... I just gotta be me, goofy faces and all!  Photos courtesy of  Miaou Photography

... I just gotta be me, goofy faces and all!

Photos courtesy of Miaou Photography

Society keeps trying to tell us “just be yourself”? While at the same time meaning... “just be someone else”... confusing right? I feel ya.

We've all heard it. “Just be yourself”.

A little background...

I was taking a nap the other day and while I was starting to fall asleep, my mind wandered onto the subject of authenticity... and what does that really mean? Immediately I jumped up, headed to my laptop and decided I need to write down everything on my mind in that moment...

I began to think about how other people perceive me, the ways they describe me and the judgements we all make.

I've been told a lot of things, some are positive, others are funny, others have been downright hurtful.

  • I've been told I'm a “hipster”, an “activist”, a “girly girl”.
  • I've been told that I’m super smart, the human encyclopedia, or dictionary. I'm almost too nerdy to function.
  • I've been told that I'm strong willed and opinionated.
  • I've been told I’m too sensitive, overly concerned about the welfare of other people, animals and the planet. I'm a bleeding heart.
  • I've been told my sneezes sound like mice exploding, rodents fighting or miniature laser battles (squeak, pieeeew pieeew pieeeeew).
  • I've been told I make baby pterodactyl noises, I’m the clumsiest person in the world, that I make funny faces, that my laugh is contagious and I have a terrible sense of direction.
  • I've been compared to Jessica Day (Zoey Deschanel's character on the show “New Girl”), Sometimes I like to sing or dance or make funny voices for no real reason.
  • I've been called "Ned Flanders"... that one took me by surprise!
  • I've been called names, I've been victimized, I’ve been demoralized.

I could go on...

When I think about all of these statements, I know deep down that I just wouldn't be me without any of them. Each joyous moment, each painful challenge and each quirky trait has made me who I am today. It is what it is, I am who I am, and I accept that.

But acceptance and pride in one's uniqueness doesn't come easy in a world that tells us how we should look, what we should wear, how we should eat, and who we should be.

The dictionary defines authenticity as “not false or imitation, true to one's own spirit or character”.

How do we become true to our own spirit or character, how do we achieve a place of “not false”?

I believe these are the steps that helped me achieve a place of authenticity:

  1. Forgiveness: Forgiveness is not about excusing, it's about letting go so you can find peace. Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past. Many years ago I began to forgive, I forgave my bullies, I forgave my ex's, but the most challenging thing to do is to forgive yourself. I still occasionally struggle with this one, regret is a powerful emotion. When I catch myself dwelling on a “mistake” I remind myself “You did the best you could with the information you had at the time”. Doing your best is all you can do.

  2. Accept: Each day accept a part of yourself without resistance. One at a time, embrace your “flaws” and “quirks”. There was a time I found sneezing in public to be horrifyingly embarrassing. Now I laugh and shrug it off... I know my sneeze is “unconventional” but generally it makes others laugh, so I now see it as a gift.
  3. Find Your Voice: Say what you mean and mean what you say. Just find your voice and speak your truth. Talk about your thoughts, feelings and ideas in a constructive way, but don't hide them.

  4. Be Vulnerable: Because as Brene Brown writes “Authenticity is a collection of choices we have to make everyday. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” We cannot let our true selves be seen unless we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

  5. Let Go: Let go of the desire to be anything but your truest self. Your truest self is the most beautiful expression of you. 

These are the lessons I have found to be most helpful. I strive everyday to do what feels good and right to me. I of course take outside influences into consideration, but ultimately, if it doesn't feel right, I don't take it on board. This is how I stay true to myself, this is how I embrace my authenticity.

I challenge you to forgive, accept, find your voice, be vulnerable, and let go of the desire to be anything but you. I know you can do it, cuz you're awesome like that!