I’ve come to realize that one of my biggest fears is being myself. How inconvenient..
The other day I was having a conversation with one of my closest friends and kept thinking how wonderful it is to have someone like her in my life. She’s one of those friends who really gets me, like all of me. This got me thinking about how many friendships I have like this one and I realized the number is quite small. The reason for this is no fault of my other friends; it’s because I put up walls and try on different personas for different occasions. We all do.
But I’m getting kind of tired of it. Recently, as a mild social experiment, I’ve been trying to express my entire personality right away whenever I meet someone new. Considering the current social situation, I haven’t exactly been meeting a ton of new people. But what I can say is that the results have absolutely shocked me. It’s way more fun to be my actual self (duh). And it’s way easier (less-duh). I thought it would be hard and require effort to bring my authentic self to the table, but that’s just at first. That’s just for getting over the barrier to entry. Then it’s so easy. I guess what I never realized before is that building walls and suiting up to be someone else takes effort. It takes serious effort, which means energy. I’ve recently gotten more and more obsessed with the idea of energy and I’m especially interested in ways I can divert it from unproductive goals to productive ones. This has definitely been a lot of the reason why I feel so full of energy lately, but I’d never turn down a little extra. So, if we can find ways to stop building those walls and stop hiding our nature, we can actually save ourselves a lot of energy. It might cost a little extra at first to get over the hump, but like pushing through any other fear or discomfort, totally worth it when you get there.
So how do we stop denying parts of our personalities??
This is honestly something I’m still working through, but here’s what I’ve been playing around with in my mind…
1. Dive-in headfirst.
This is the strategy I alluded to earlier of just making yourself to say or do things that are very authentic from the start. This kind of forces you to be authentic going forward because you can’t really go back. I’d say if you can identify one or two concepts that you are really passionate about and bring those topics and energy into the conversation, that should do the trick.
2. Test the waters.
This strategy focuses on trying to bring existing friends into that ride-or-die circle. You can slowly start edging in concepts and authentic energy, seeing how they respond, and adjusting as necessary. If you’ve already committed yourself to a certain identity you can’t just do a full 180 and expect everyone to be ok with it. Or maybe you can, but I don’t think that would work very well for me. A drawback of this approach is that even if you bring a ton of new friends into that inner circle, you’re still only being your full self with a group of your friends. There’s a whole lot more world out there than just your friends.
3. Go public.
The one I alluded to in the title, and have been playing with the most recently - largely due to the collapse of my social life in quarantine. This one is also the most scary to me. There are certain things that we can do on the internet, a very public platform to say the least, that will reveal more aspects of ourselves. I know this strategy won’t be for everyone, but I’ve found that by sharing specific things I have resistance to, it helps me feel more empowered to be myself in real life. For example, I initially felt resistance to posting anything on my blog. I still hesitate sometimes, but push send anyways. I made my personal instagram public. I shared my youtube videos to my facebook friends. I added a link to my website in my instagram bio. I stopped posting photos to show off or curate an aesthetic; instead, I hope to share photos that remind me of memories and feelings. Uncurated of course. Now I didn’t do all of these things in a day, but I found that the more I did, the more momentum I felt. I was inspired to try and be my complete self and keep the ball rolling.
4. Get comfortable in your skin.
I would argue this is by far the hardest approach, but also the most necessary to ensure lasting success for any of the above strategies. You see, I believe that the inability to be one’s true self stems out of fear. And the more comfortable you are with yourself, the less fear can stand in your way. Obviously this approach is also the least straightforward because how does one really get more comfortable?? I think most people (myself included) have at least some ideas of the areas they need or want to work on, so that’s always a great place to start. If you feel stuck and have absolutely no idea where to start (this was also me) I’d recommend checking out this series on getting started.
Obviously, in the best case scenario, we’d all do all four of these strategies all the time. Personally, I invested a lot of time into strategy 4 during college and have been really focused on strategy 3 recently. I think I’ll refocus my attention on 1 & 2 as the pandemic situation improves. But at the end of the day, no matter how you get there, working on being yourself is a valiant mission. I think you’d be surprised at how much energy you’ll unlock along the way. And for me, it has been very freeing too. It’s almost like taking a deep sigh and just letting go of all the things blocking you from yourself. And as a result, I find myself more satisfied and oddly happier :)