I’ve been writing my blog now for a few weeks and when I first started out, I was emphatically writing about my disgust at the face of modern retail trends and the importance of your environment and the influences within it.
I didn’t really choose a particular tone or direction for my blog other than to dump all the critical thoughts I’ve had in my twenty eights years on this planet.
Well it turns out that in recent weeks, the blog topics have become increasingly personal and introspective and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think it’s a good thing.
I’m confident that the content of my thoughts are still relevant to you, my lovely readers, and this has been validated by the increasing number of shares, views and messages you have written me.
The peculiar thing about authenticity is that we always instinctively revert back to our core selves in times of impact. Whether it’s values, a fight or flight response or just how we see the world, the way we’re wired has been forged over many many years and from countless experiences. We can do our best to put on an act and keep up appearances but it’s when the guards are down and we are without our filters, the real us always comes out to play. People under the influence of alcohol is a great teacher of this.
When faced with a decision, a saga or an opportunity we almost immediately know what our authentic response is likely to be but then we go through the theatrics of applying social filters in order to keep the peace, save face, keep our cards close to our chest etc. You see this when people try to suppress being emotional, physical or intellectual as if somehow it makes them superior/clever.
When we were kids, we did all kinds of crazy things without the fear of judgement. We’d make funny noises, climb trees, sing along out loud, break out into dance, create something, break something, say things as we saw them, make faces and imagine the wildest dreams.
Then one day we ‘grew up’.
We put away the crayons and the play-dough, we developed a self-conscience and we crushed our child-like wonder with ‘pragmatism’, ‘realism’ and ‘responsibility.’ We somehow scooped up the imagination and wonder part of our lives and put it away with the plush toys and finger painting to be locked away in the attic.
Granted, as we mature in life we do face greater consequences for our actions and therefore we must be more mindful of the decisions we make. Our bodies age, we have laws we need to abide by and we have to actively consider those around us. We have learned that you can’t play rough with others, you can’t borrow without asking and you can’t eat sugar all day long or your teeth will fall out. (Actually I know some adults who haven’t learned this lesson!)
But when did we learn that we couldn’t sing in public because we like it, to be honest about how we feel about something or that we couldn’t wear a shower curtain as a cape and sit outside, eating cereal with our fingers? When did we stop making cubby houses, stop being excited about a new story book and stop trusting ourselves that we could be anything we wanted to be?
I mean, does it really matter what the guy walking past thinks as you sing out loud to yourself? He’s got a big hairy nose and he probably can’t sing so who’s he to judge? Let him make faces – pull one back.
For a long time I felt that being authentic, wearing my heart on my sleeve and being open with my abilities was a vulnerability – a weakness. I feared people taking advantage of my honesty and talking behind my back. I was worried that I might put myself forward and I would be the laughing stock because I dared to have a different view, an alternate idea or I just wanted to sing the song differently from them. I didn’t want to be judged or to feel rejection, so I opted to not try.
Years on, those people I feared are nowhere to be seen in my life and yet here I am still fighting the same demons. It was never actually the fear of ‘them’ but has always been the fear of myself.
‘Being you’ is an ongoing challenge you may work through your whole life. You will change your views, you will grow to love things you never did and grow away from things you always held close to you. You’ll have your wins and your losses and there will always be those who embrace you with both arms and those who will push you away with everything they have.
But please don’t lose faith. Let these experiences in life make your heart, mind and soul stronger and bigger, not harder. It’s very easy to impersonate others and blend into mediocrity. It takes work to stand on your own.
If you can summon the courage to be you, to publish yourself, to be authentic, to have your own belief system and stand by that, you’ll grow to realise that you aren’t actually the vulnerable one at all – they are.