The why’s and how’s of our human condition have always fascinated me and the older I get, it seems even more so. There’s a bigger picture…the way it all impacts us, our choices, our behaviors – the way we connect or don’t connect.
I’ve been in self-discovery mode lately. Not just myself but others too, relationships, communication, what holds us back, what propels us forward. Why do we care if we’re held back and who wants to move forward?
I have questions about being real. What does that even mean? Be real. Be you. Be authentic. I’ve written about it. I’ve tweeted it. Texted it to friends and exhorted my children to, “be themselves. be real.”
Be you! You is what the world needs. Nobody else can be you! This is all true. But does the world really want you to be real? To be you?
Recently, I remembered an occasion where my husband was asked to be in a meeting with me for the purpose to buffer me. The presentation of my gretchen-ness. “She’s a bit dramatic, artistic, intense.” I laughed at the time but now I realize it communicated that I wasn’t acceptable, “as-is”.
So do they want me to be who they think I am? Who they think I can be or should be? Did I package myself a certain way and now I must honor the expectations that friends and family have of me?
I’ve been real. I’ve made choices people didn’t like or understand. It wasn’t pretty. So does, “Get real. Be you!”, mean… “as long as you’re something beautiful or smart and worthy of my admiration and respect?”
I know that stings a little. I’ve experienced that sting as I’ve purposed to love people in my life even when they make choices that hurt or just act unloveable.
I found out that I needed them to be a certain way so that I could understand them…this made it easier for me to love them and accept them.
Now, I’m pushing past that in my love and acceptance of others. Whether they’re being real or struggling with their authentic – I’m choosing to love.
You read the facebook articles, magazines, newspapers, tweets, posts from your favorite thought leader/speaker/writer and there seems to be a universal theme to change, to grow, to challenge ourselves..(you’ve seen the worldwide how-to and how-not-to posts right?)
There’s an unspoken message that can come from too much, “87 Ways to Change who you Are!” These unspoken but implied messages tell us:
- There’s something wrong with you
- You need to fit in
- You’re not accepted
- You need to perform for approval
And in the same breath they’re telling you to be real. Be You! So if I’m trying to be more organized, more adventurous, have more courage, be more selfless…is that denying who the real me is?
Maybe the real me is a shy, slobby, homebody that really doesn’t like acts of service?
[Confession: I wrote that as a joke but the truth is there are days that is absolutely true and I would normally hide that so people wouldn’t think less of me!]
The truth is that for most of us being authentic and real takes work on our part. It doesn’t come naturally in our culture today and if we want to live lives where we feel free, unbound from the expectations of others and fully alive; then we will have to practice authenticity.
“to be nobody-but-yourself in a world, which is doing its best, night and day to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” ~e.e.cummings
I love this definition of authenticity from Brene Brown:
“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”
To be honest, that will take some work for me. Thinking about the expectations of others [and myself!] and letting them go; at the same time lining up the true attributes that make me who I am and…accepting them. Maybe even loving them.
I don’t want to completely knock all the self-help, do-better, be-better blog posts, articles and books out there. I read a variety from many sources and I completely believe in improving ourselves. Learning, growing, evolving. Being our best self.
Maybe there’s even a reason that we’re drawn to certain articles and books?
I wonder if the things that stir in us to change are provoked because they’re already in there waiting for us to release them?
Maybe the things that stir are like clues on a treasure map that lead us to a better, fuller more wholehearted life than we ever imagined?
Courage leads you to truth. Truth leads you to boldness. Boldness leads you to connection. Connection leads you to community. Community leads you to being known. For who. You. Really. Are. Being known leads you to being accepted. Being accepted leads you to love.
That’s not bad.
It’s journey I’m willing go on…who wants to join?