Do you know who you are deep down? Do you have a good idea? Who is the real you, your authentic self, and do you show up as that person each day? Are you ready to just be who you are?
During a journaling exercise last week, I came across this quote in my workbook:
“In trying to speak and write only to please others, we can lose touch with our real self.”Joy Kenward, The Writer’s Creative Workbook
Why did these words hit me so hard?
I’ll tell you. It’s because I have spent a lifetime writing and speaking to please others.
And I’ve been trying to please everyone in other ways, too.
How I act. Things I do (or don’t do.) How I dress. Opinions I share (or keep to myself.)
I’ve been hiding parts of my true self for a long time now. And after all of these years, I’m exhausted from it.
I am done. It’s time for me to practice authenticity with intention and stop censoring myself.
That means being a bit more relaxed around others. It means I stop weighing each word I speak so carefully. It also means I stop qualifying everything I say because I’m so worried about how my words will be perceived.
“Will they think I’m wrong? Silly? Stupid?”
“What if they don’t agree with me?”
“Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes?”
Enough. What others think of me is none of my business, so I’ve got to let it go.
How about you? Are you tired of holding your real self back so you can be accepted by others?
Oh, don’t do this or that, because what will they think? Don’t say what you’re thinking, because what if they don’t like it?
Friends, it’s time to stop. We need to stop worrying so much about pleasing others, stop being the people we think others want us to be, and start being our authentic selves.
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”Brene Brown
You Need to Be Who You Are
When we approach life with a people-pleasing filter, we are shutting down our real selves. And by doing this, we are missing the boat.
Life is passing us by, and a lot of us are wasting time trying to be someone we’re not.
Not only do we have an authentic self, but we have an inner voice.
Are you listening to yours? Are you following your heart and being true to who, deep down, you know you should be?
Or are you shutting down your inner voice and your real self for the sake of being accepted?
Finding the Real You
I think that finding the real you can be hard. You have to actually spend time being quiet, asking yourself questions, and listening to your inner voice to really know yourself.
What do you really think about things? What do you truly enjoy?
How do you want to live the rest of your life? Are there things you feel you should be doing, but aren’t? What is your purpose?
Let’s talk about purpose. We all have a purpose in life. What is yours? Have you thought about it? Are you living it?
Having purpose looks different for everyone. Only you can figure it out. Deep down, you know what it is. You just have to ask yourself the questions and listen to what your heart tells you.
How does the real you want to show up in life? What kind of life do you want to have? Who do you want to spend your time with? What are your truths? What matters to you?
Helping others? Teaching? Leading? Serving? Parenting? Writing? Going on adventures? Telling stories? Preaching? Inspiring others? Living minimally? Sharing your lessons? Showing love? Spreading kindness? Making people laugh?
What is your real personality? Are you sarcastic? Serious? Dry? Are you loud? Quiet? Extroverted? Introverted? Spontaneous? Cautious? Maybe you’re a combination of several of these things at different times.
There’s no right or wrong answer. The key is to know how you are uniquely made and be that person. Without apology. Without hesitancy.
I know. It’s easier said than done, right?
So let’s take a look at what holds us back from being our true selves and from honoring our inner voice.
What Holds Us Back From Authenticity
Often, what holds us back the most is fear. Fear of looking silly. Or fear of failing. We fear what other people think. Fear of being wrong. Or laughed at. Or disliked.
Our inner critic holds us back, too. The inner critic is not the same as our authentic inner voice. No, the inner critic represents the person (or people) that criticized or spoke negatively to you at some point in your life. Those words stuck, and now they show up on the regular, as your inner critic.
It could have been a teacher. A coach. The playground bully. It could be your mom. Or a combination of people and experiences.
Most of us battle an inner critic. Mine? She’s strong. And loud. She’s the total opposite of my inner voice and my true self, in that she tells me I can’t and I’m not good enough. Whenever I’m making progress and moving forward, she grabs me by the arm and yanks me backward. She’s the one whispering “but what will they think?”
The Influence of the Inner Critic
This blog is a good example of how I let my inner critic have influence. First of all, I worry about sharing it. Because again, “what will they think?” Of me? Or my writing? Of my words? Or of my desire to write?
I started this blog because of a desire to write. It’s part of who I am; my real self. Writing about experiences and sharing stories is something that I truly love doing.
Last March, I took a leap and signed up for a blogging course. Over the past ten months, I have listened to dozens of experts discuss what people want to read and how I should be writing to solve problems.
I took that advice and changed direction with my writing. Soon, I began writing about topics I thought I was supposed to write about. I wrote articles they said I should write so that my writing could be seen, both by people and by Google.
But I ignored my inner voice. I stopped being the real me in my writing.
So some of these posts? They aren’t me. They feel a bit stale if I’m honest. Forced. Not my voice. Not me.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the process of researching and writing. And yes, I like the finished posts, or I wouldn’t have published them. But if I’m honest, several of these posts are not really the essence of who I am and what I want to write about.
I love to write and express myself. I love the creative process. My writing should be a reflection of my inner voice. Not necessarily what will help me rank in Google.
If you’re looking for 10 tips to save on groceries, I’m not going to be your best resource. (Maybe someday I’ll get that down. A girl can hope, right?)
Meal planning? Not my strength. Speed cleaning tips and tricks? Forget about it.
Looking for someone who’s writing about life and trying to navigate it with some semblance of grace, but often failing? Hello. I’m your girl.
And even though I didn’t always follow my inner voice in writing some of these posts, I will leave them up. Why? Because for some, they still provide value. Also, they are a part of my writing journey.
They helped me to realize I wasn’t being my true self with my writing. Instead, I was writing the things I thought I should write, not what I wanted to write.
It’s like that in everyday life, too. We get stuck being who we think we are supposed to be instead of who we really want to be.
Silencing our true selves shows up in all kinds of ways. The work we do in our career. How we show up in our relationships. Who we date or marry. How we parent. What we wear. Our political views, religion or spirituality. And our opinions.
Let’s Get Unstuck
Here is what happens to me when I’m not being my real self. I get stuck.
Can you relate? Do you feel stuck when you know you aren’t being your true self? Do you feel stagnant and uninspired? Like you’re just going through the motions? Flat and dull?
Get unstuck by living your truth. We have so much more to offer when we are just being our real selves.
Let’s Take Off Our Masks
Let me tell you a little story. Many years ago, there was this boy who broke up with me and broke my heart. (Spoiler alert, it was a blessing in disguise and it eventually led me to the right person. But that’s another story.)
Anyway, I was a mess about it, and I went to therapy.
I remember one day, I was lamenting about how much I had opened up in the relationship. How I had been incredibly vulnerable and honest about my feelings.
“Oh,” the therapist said, “you took off your mask. And he wasn’t willing to take his off.”
I remember it so clearly because she talked about how usually, we walk around wearing these masks to hide our true selves. And usually, most people don’t ever take off their masks.
It’s an interesting idea, that we walk around wearing these “masks” that hide our true selves.
What if we took off the masks? Threw them away? Let people see us for who we really are?
Now, this is not to say that you should be airing your dirty laundry or most intimate thoughts and feelings to everyone you meet, or God forbid, on Facebook.
It simply means stop hiding. Stop pretending. Stop faking it.
Let’s Just Be Real
One of the reasons I stopped being me on my blog was because another blogger told me I needed to solve a problem for the reader rather than writing from my heart. She said I needed to get right to the point about how I could help the reader with their struggles. I needed to show my expertise.
But here’s the thing. I’m not an expert! I’m just trying to figure things out, much like most people.
To me, pretending to be an expert is like wearing a big, fake mask.
I love writing and it makes me feel lighter and fulfilled and happier because I am being me when I write.
Writing helps me solve my own problems. And so maybe sharing that will help others, too.
I feel like I have a purpose when I write because I’m making sense of this crazy life. (Or trying to, anyway.)
When I write from a place of authenticity and my true self, I am giving myself permission to just Be Who I Am.
And sometimes, when I’m feeling really good, I get brave enough to share what I write outside of this blog.
I let go of people-pleasing and the “what if someone hates it”, or “who do I think I am” thoughts.
When I do that; when I share, then sometimes, just sometimes, one or two people will reach out and say “Oh! Me too! I thought I was the only one that felt that way!” Or “I get it. I have the same struggle.”
That’s right. Once it a while, this rambly, less-than-perfect writing resonates with someone. Sometimes, it’s helpful, with its grammatical errors, redundancy, simple wording, warts and all.
Sometimes, by being the real me, it makes someone else feel less alone like they aren’t the only ones screwing up. Or like they aren’t the only ones struggling, confused, hurt, or just trying to do better.
I’m no wordsmith. I’m not a thought leader. My words are pretty basic. Believe me, I am fully aware of this.
I just think that sometimes, people like what I say because I’m showing my real self. They can feel that it’s the real version of me, and they connect with that.
They connect because they want to show their real selves, too.
When you take off your mask to let people see who you really are, you are able to connect so much more authentically.
We All Want Connection
I mean, deep down, isn’t that what most of us want? We want to be seen. We want to feel like someone actually gets us. And we want to simply be who we are.
Let’s be honest. We all long to share our inner voice our real selves.
When we see someone else doing it, showing their true self, we think, “Yes! You go! Preach it!”
We love it, don’t we?
But even when we support others in being themselves, we continue to hold ourselves back and keep our own voice in. We give others permission to wholeheartedly be themselves, but we don’t give ourselves the same permission.
So here I am, guys. I’m putting these words, my inner voice, my real self out here, to you.
I’m here to tell you, “Yes! You go! Preach it!”
Just Be Who You Are. Please.
Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.Dr. Suess
Stop silencing your inner voice. Stop squashing the real you.
The world needs to see you as your true self. Not who you think you need to be. But the real you.
Yes, it’s hard and scary and I’m going to be here doing it with you.
Let’s get over the mask-wearing, the people-pleasing, the facade, the show.
You go. Be who you are. The real you. Don’t hold back.
I’m going to be cheering for you. And I hope you’ll be cheering for me.