Do you remember the days when you would spend nights giggling with your friends for hours and singing along to your favorite songs together? Do you recall the first heart to heart conversation you had with your now spouse or significant other, when you knew they were the one because of the deep connection you felt? Lastly, how good does it feel when you pour your heart out to your best friends and they listen intently to provide perspective that opens your mind to a new way of seeing your problem?
These questions all link to connecting to your authentic self. They describe the experiences we have all felt and yearn to experience more of. As I reflect on these experiences I feel as though they seem more frequent in childhood or as a teenager than they do now. My adult brain interprets this as necessary because life calls upon me in different ways now as an employee, wife and community member. However, my heart pulls me in a completely different direction and asks why can’t there be more opportunities for deep connections, laughter and silliness.
What I have come to understand through experience and a recent book, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown is that I have slowly been reeling in my propensity to be vulnerable and therefore, my most authentic self. Being vulnerable means giving up control and letting people see the real you. Moreover, it’s about being “un-cool” and caring less about what others may define as foolish or awkward. In many ways I have believed that I was impervious to the slow onset of vulnerability barriers. I occasionally laugh loud, feel comfortable dancing even when I know I’m not great at it and I speak my mind about what I feel.
When I examine myself closer, I realize I typically only do these things with those who are extremely close to me and that I don’t let my vulnerability flag fly as much as I should. This in turn strips away a level of my personality that brings great joy to life and authenticity to the choices I make.
From this examination and my observations of adult v. children’s behavior, I realize that we are all continually held back by the fear of “not fitting in” and “wanting to be accepted by others.” This is a natural tendency, but it’s also one that inhibits us from designing and experiencing life as strongly as possible. If we can become genuinely comfortable with who we are and offer our authentic selves to the world, new opportunities open up and relationships become deeper.
If you are always operating from a place of needing to be accepted by the group, you will become what the group wants you to become. There will be comfort in this direction, but your authenticity will bubble out from the binding you put around it and withhold the right connections from coming into your life. This is due to the fact that you aren’t being honest with the universe about who you are so you’re receiving things the group may want rather than what you really need.
That being said, it’s time for us to open up and clear a space for our truest self to be let out from captivity. In order to do this, you must take time to think about where you have been holding yourself back from expressing your truest nature. Moreover, reflect on your closest relationships with friends and family, are you connecting with them in a deep and meaningful way or just checking in at the surface level?
On a final note, in your day to day interactions are you sacrificing your authenticity to be “cool” and accepted or are you showing up without needing to be like everyone else? Your answers will help you understand if you are on track to be your authentic self and receive the custom created gifts from the universe that you deserve.