Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Just be yourself’ and wondered to yourself – ‘Well, what is that exactly? Is it in the clothes I wear? How I have my hair? Is it my overall appearance? Or is it my personality? ….Is it all those things?’
How can you possibly be your authentic self when you’re
not even sure who or what that is?
I was catching up with a friend recently and we were laughing about a toilet-related joke. My friend pointed out that she knew she could make that kind of joke in front of me because that’s the kind of sense of humour I have (nothing makes me laugh more than toilet humour). She then went on to say that she makes different types of jokes when she’s with different types of people; it’s like she has alter ego’s that appear when needed. This makes it incredibly difficult when there is more than one person in the same room with different personality traits! What I didn’t expect in the conversation with my friend was that I found myself agreeing with her.
‘Me too! I do the same thing!’
So it got me thinking….
If we shift our personalities—our likes and dislikes—to accommodate for the people around us, then are we only denying our true selves from shining?
I believe so. And the interesting thing about this is that I’ve spent so long creating alter ego’s that surface for different people. So much so that I’ve forgotten somewhere along the way who I really am. The real Erin. As I reflect on the people of my past, I’ve realised something quite tragic. I’ve been so unapologetically un-me. I think of the people I hung out with, the way I acted around them, and even the way I talked and it was all a sham. Was it true that I was so afraid to be ‘me’ that I decided to be ‘un-me?’ The sad answer is, yes.
It then begs the question…
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we role-play throughout our lives and pretend to be someone we’re not?
It’s exhausting to say the least! It’s like we mentally have a Do’s and Don’ts checklist for each person we meet—making sure we don’t offend them by what we say through our own opinions and jokes.
And then I have to wonder, ‘What if the very person I’m trying to impress is also doing the same thing as me – what if they’re being ‘un-them’ too?’ Wouldn’t that be ironic? All this time I thought we were accommodating for our personality preferences when really they were doing the same as me! It’s almost laughable! But it’s the truth. This is what society does. This is what we do.
We ‘pretend’ so that we can be socially accepted and fit in with the crowd. We do this so we can feel validated—so that we feel important in some way – a part of a tribe. We do this so we can feel safe and connected to others. And even though these seem like good reasons, it’s still not okay to deny ourselves the right to be ourselves.
When did it become okay to be someone you’re not?
This is why being your authentic self can be so hard. Because we’ve spent all this time lying to ourselves about who we are, we’ve forgotten the real us—the real you. Where did you go? Why did you change? What is it about being yourself that’s so ridiculously scary that you feel the need to hide away?
And as I sit here with my laptop, still in my pyjamas at 1:14pm eating watermelon, I ask myself the same question—what is it about being me that’s so ridiculously scary? The answer that I’m so shamefully aware of but haven’t had the guts up until now to admit, it's because being me is not enough. It’s not safe to be ‘plain old me’……oh my gosh, imagine the backlash I’d get! Imagine the ridicule and the loneliness that would come from being me. And knowing this makes me feel sad—yes, sad. I’m sad because I’m supposed to be my own cheerleader and love myself unconditionally, flaws and all. Hell, if I can’t be there for myself how can I expect anyone else to show me the same courtesy? It’s crazily unrealistic!
All this time I’ve wondered how I can be ‘better’ and how I can fit into various people’s worlds, yet I couldn’t even fit in with my own. My alter ego’s maintained my life and my true self sat back and wept wondering what I’d done wrong to be ignored.
The constant need for approval from others is sickening and so damn tiring. I’m in my 30’s and I’m tired—fair enough if I were 90, but 30! Seriously?!
My mantra is…
If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t
Being un-me doesn’t feel right at all, yet I’m unsure who me really is. So with this crazy world of mystery and mayhem, I’m making it my mission to date myself.
I’m going to take myself out somewhere that I know I’ll love (home on the outside deck at night) and have some inner positive dialogue. I’ll reintroduce myself and just ‘be’. I’ll reflect on everything I used to love to do even as a child. I’ll consider all the things I love to do when no one is around. I’ll focus on the things that I actually laugh at and the things that make me feel upset. I’ll search my soul for ways that will help bring it to the surface and shine through. I know there is a beautiful soul within, but I need to find her first.
I invite you to do the same because is there anything
worse than lying to yourself? I’m not sure there is.
Before I sign off, I feel I need to get something straight….I’m not perfect (cue shocking music!). Life happens to me too. I get angry, I scream into my pillow when I’m frustrated, and I turn to vanilla ice cream and ice magic when I’m feeling low. I’m human…..and that’s what’s so deliciously awesome.
I want you to be too. Join me! Let’s date ourselves and see what comes of it. The one thing I know for sure—the minute you form a close bond with yourself and allow yourself to shine through in everything that you do, life won’t be the same…..it will be better. I promise you right now, you won’t want to go back!
Love from your biggest fan,