Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Your Authentic Self

I have often written in the past about being true to your authentic self. I have encouraged you to find out what's truly important to you and then live your life accordingly. For instance, if you say your family is important, find ways to actually spend time with them. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but so many people say their priority is family, yet their calendars reveal their true priorities are golf and work.

We all have to struggle to balance our lives. We all struggle to balance the "must dos" with the "want to dos" and, of course, the dreaded "should dos". There's a special happiness that comes when we realize who we are and what we want, and then prioritize our lives to maximize our priorities. Of course, this involves constantly reviewing our commitments and making sure the trivial and unnecessary things have not crept in and displaced the truly important parts of our lives.

I don't think it's hard for us to know who we are. I do, however, think it's very hard for us to ADMIT who we are: to give ourselves permission to be who we are (instead of who we think we should be) and to reveal our true selves to others (instead of projecting the persona they think we should be).

I think everyone on the planet thinks he or she is weird. I also think almost everyone thinks most other people are "normal". So we hide our "weirdness" and try to fit in and act like who we think everyone else is. The joke is that everyone else is as weird as we are and engaging in the same game.

Think I'm exaggerating? Try going to your place of worship and admitting you sometimes question whether God exists, or, at least, that He gives a hoot about you. Try admitting to other parents that you have no clue how to best raise your children no matter how many books and articles you read. Try admitting to your loan officer that you don't really feel knowledgable or responsible enough to negotiate a loan -- that, in fact, you feel like a clueless 16 year old kid half the time -- and you're just hoping to get through the process intact. Try admitting to your spouse that you really don't have any idea why he or she loves you when you know how unlovable you are (on a good day) or try admitting to your friends that you really, truly, honestly, actively dislike your spouse (on a bad day).

I can just about guarantee that almost every single person has felt every one of those things . . . and would never, ever admit to any of them because what would people think?

We need to start being real. Real with ourselves. Real with each other. I promise if you are courageous enough to confess the real you to someone you know and love, they will heave a sigh of relief and make their own confessions.

We are afraid of what people think too far beyond our awful high school years. This is why we choose jobs that seem "normal" instead of doing what we are passionate about. This is why we don't speak up when someone says something offensive. This is why we agree to do things we don't want to do. We are afraid they'll think we're weird. As a result, we all live behind masks of perfection, quaking in our boots someone will realize who we really are. And then we wonder why we feel lonely, even if our lives are filled with people.

The truth is, most people envy those who aren't afraid of revealing their authentic selves. Most people admire people who stand up for what they believe, even if they don't agree with it themselves. People wish they had the courage to be true to themselves, even if they reveal they are "weird" in the process. So admit who you really are -- to yourself and others. Instead of thinking you are "weird", most people will think you are brave and wonderful. You will be admired, not shunned. And by being openly authentic, you give permission to those around you to be real.

No comments:

Post a Comment