I have done a lot of stupid stuff in my 38 years of life that were for no purpose other than to impress someone or try to fit in.
For example, when I was probably 13 years old, I grabbed a Sharpie marker while at a park near a cousin's house in Southern Minnesota. I began writing obscenities all over the wooden picnic tables and the cinder block walls of a park shelter.
Not my best moment.
I have no idea why I did it. I was a pretty good kid. I'd guess I was trying to impress my cousins. Either way, we ended up all having to repaint the park shelter a weekend or two later while listening to a local officer give us the business. Yikes. Not my proudest moment.
Last year, while at a Rachel Hollis conference, I stood up and danced when the stupid blow horn thing went off. . . it went off A LOT. If you haven't been to one of her events, she likes having her audience stand up and dance. I get it. Dancing is movement and movement is good for the mind. I'm just not a dancer. Not much at all, especially not at a conference. But, I danced. Everyone was doing it. I would've looked ridiculous if I didn't dance.
Here's the truth: Not being myself in the examples I gave is not a huge deal. But, for some people, these innocent moments of being someone else start to override their everyday lives. Before they know it, they don't feel that they can be themselves anymore. The gap between who they really are and who they are behaving like are incredibly far apart. Oftentimes, that paves the path for addiction and mental health concerns.
Almost all of the women I interviewed for my book #WarriorsInRecovery recalled not feeling like they were enough, not being allowed to be themselves, or not feeling like they fit in.
These three things mean that each one of them was lonely. Lonely not necessarily because they didn't have friends, but because they couldn't really be themselves. Can you relate?
One of these women came out as gay, divorced her husband, and began to live the life she wanted and desperately needed. One of these women's mothers was so critical that she felt she needed to act perfect and was never told "I love you" by her own mother. Another wore heels and business suits to work everyday only to worry that if her plane went down everyone would find out what a phony she was.
Ladies, we owe it to ourselves to be ourselves. In my book, I take a deep dive into being ourselves because it was such a common theme.
God made you exactly who and what you are for a reason. The world needs that version of you. The real deal.
He didn’t make you the type of person that would quietly stand by when your heart wants you to speak. He made you to stand up for what you believe in.
Be you. There is no one better for that job. You deserve that feeling of freedom.
The problem with not being ourselves is that eventually it will catch up with us. It might manifest itself in addictions or mental health issues, or it might just be an unsettled feeling of not belonging. If you don't feel like you belong somewhere the question is not, "What is wrong with me?" but instead, "What is wrong with my surroundings, be it people or things?". Once we can begin to understand ourselves and love ourselves, the people and things that appreciate us will come to us. There will be an undeniable attraction and acceptance that is felt and the need to be someone different will fade.
Do you boo. We all want that version of you: the authentic one.