Where’s Your Authentic Self Hiding Out?

Ever noticed how around some people you’re on your toes, watching your words, putting on social graces? It might be with people at work, it might be certain friends.

Damn. It might even be family. Everyone’s got someone in their lives they feel they just can’t be completely totally themselves around.

Then there are other people where you can take a deep breath and let it all hang out. You don’t even notice that you’re holding everything in so tight until you’re around just the right folks, and suddenly you can just be you. You. Ahhh. No pressure. No expectations.

Society asks us to censor our authentic selves. It asks us (sometimes brazenly) to shrink, to fit, to accept, to be acceptable in turn.

I say nay.

Your Authentic Self

We all have different aspects of our personalities. Sometimes we’re quiet and introspective. Sometimes we’re social butterflies. Sometimes we get excited and or smarmy or witty or moody. Sometimes we want to dance or cry or sing or create. All of these aspects are a part of us. They’re our authentic self. Our whole self.

My authentic self is a 5 year old girl. A sassy, opinionated, strong-willed little thing who insists on wearing nothing but shades of gray.

A 5 year old girl who laughs too loud, won’t be quiet in church and insists on making a ruckus. A 5 year old girl who WANTS to revel in the experience of wearing a sundress out in the snow even if it’s a stupid decision and her tootsies will get cold.

At a certain point in life (this may sound familiar for you) I started hearing that I needed to be quieter, be a lady, tone down my personality, my self-expression, my “me-ness”. Me wasn’t good enough because me didn’t fit in. Me needed to shrink, to fit, to accept, to be acceptable in turn.

Heard any of this before? Remember hearing anything like that when you were growing up? Or maybe even later in life, with friends, or family or employers?

It can be some seriously deep-seated stuff. What I heard, and chances are you’ve heard it too, is that some parts of me weren’t acceptable. Some parts of me were too loud, too brash, too opinionated, too flamboyant.

I was being told to edit parts of my me-ness. To censor them, hide them away from sight.

The problem pops up when we start listening to other people who want us to censor parts of our authentic self, or when we’ve heard it so much we start automatically censoring ourselves. It often happens subtly.

Those little societal nudges happen from all directions. They can come not just from strangers but from close friends or family, people who should have our backs damn it! But often those messages are whispered so quietly over so many years that we stop even really noticing them for what they are. We start thinking those messages are coming from within ourselves.

  • It may be your boss pulling you aside and saying, “You need to control your laughter in the office. You can’t appear to be enjoying yourself or the big boss will give the whole department more work.” Checkmark.
  • It may be someone telling your exploratory teen self, “This is just a stage you’re going through. You’re just dressing like that to get attention.” Checkmark.
  • It may be a family member saying, “You need to be sensible. It’s time to get a real job. You’re not making enough money doing this. It’ll never be more than pocket change.” Checkmark.
  • It may be someone who asks, “Why on earth would you do that to yourself?”, after you just dyed your hair a fun, quirky color. Checkmark.
  • It may be someone you don’t even know who innocently and simply shares their feelings when dropping a comment on your blog that says, “I could do without the F-bombs.” Checkmark.

What do all these scenarios have in common? They’re all subtle little pulls, subtle little pressures saying, “You isn’t right the way you are. You should change just a little bit, so I can be more comfortable with you. So go ahead please, change just a little.”

That’s what happens to our authentic self. Years of these whispered little nudged causes us to edit ourselves, hide parts of ourselves. It sounds like this, “Conform. Conform. Conform. Conform. Conform to what I want you to be. Conform to what I’m comfortable with.”

What the hell do you do? It’s not even possible to conform. Every single person (who’s the type of person that wants others to change) will have their own different opinion about what the perfect “you” should be like.

Even if you try you won’t be able to please each one of them. You’ll be torn into little tiny pieces, fragments of your whole self. Before you know it, you’ll realize there are only a few people in the world you’re truly comfortable being around, the ones where you can let your “whole self” hang out around. Where you can relish in the experience of simply being “you”.

I Say the First Step is to Change

If any of this resonates with you, I say change. Change is delightful and liberating and fresh and exquisite and very similar to watching fireflies dance across a moonlit lake on a perfect summer evening, one spent surrounded by people who accept you exactly as you are, in your myriad of imperfect perfections. The ones that say, “You’re you and I like you.”

Authentic relationships are unconditional. These are the folks who accept you as you are. They take the warts and all. They don’t want to change you. They just want to enjoy your company as you both take another trip around the sun. They’re the people you’re completely comfortable around. The ones where you can be 100% you.

Non-authentic relationships are conditional. These are the folks who are trying to change you, trying to get you to fit within their narrow view of who you should be. They’re the ones that drop tiny comments when you’re doing something different from what they want you to do. They’re the ones that reign you in, ask you to shrink, ask you to throw away whole parts of yourself.

I say it’s time to take back that energy, let yourself shine, let yourself expand into your authentic self. I say it’s time for me too.

What’s authentic? I’ve known some crazy-ass authentic people in my life. I’ve known a guy who wore a snake bone necklace around his neck. It was a signature piece for him and I never saw him without it.

He was the kind of guy who had confrontations with bears and came out on top (no shit). He was the kind of guy who pulled out home brewed absinthe around a campfire. He was the kind of guy that seemed larger than life.

He was an organic gardener/soap maker/film maker/story weaver/gourment chef/horror show host/musician/wilderness survivalist/church of the sub genius diehard fan/and a stay at home and clean the house kind of husband.

He was a walking paradox of contradictions and crazy-ass authentic. It didn’t matter if he was staring down a bear or staring down a person, he wasn’t backing down from his authentic self. He glowed. He didn’t shrink. He stretched.

He was vibrant and alive and enthralled with life. He was in touch with all the different sides of himself and he didn’t give a rats ass what anyone thought about him. If they liked him and took him as he was, cool. If they didn’t, well, whatever.

Now that’s not saying that you have to wear a snake skeleton around your neck and be crazy enough to take on a bear to be in touch with your authentic self. It just means that was authentic for him. That’s who he was.

Authentic can come in any package, but you gotta know it’s really you, and not some half-assed conglomeration of what lots of other people want you to be.

Take the First Step

My authentic self is always there, but sometimes it feels hard to let it all hang out, and that’s just not comfortable. Here’s my first step to change. I feel like I’m pretty damn in touch with myself. I know who I am, but I’ve censored myself around certain people in my life.

I’ve shrunk to fit the role certain people want me to fit. That’s personal stuff that I’m working through. I’m doing it by voicing my truth with those people, telling them I don’t want them to tell me how to “be” anymore. I’m in charge of defining me, no one else.

What can you do? You can take the first step. You can have that heart to heart with someone who’s trying to change you. They may not listen. They may not even talk to you for a month. But YOU will have taken the first step towards reclaiming your energy and that’s empowering.

Are You Censoring Yourself?

It’s not always someone else. We can be our own worst masters at times. Are you censoring your authentic self? Here’s a funny example of how pervasive self-censorship can be. I’ve shrunk myself to fit a role here on my blog simply because I feared offending people.

That’s my inner censor at work. I’ve been scared  to share myself completely, the way I do when I’m hanging out with people who I know accept me unconditionally. My authentic self tells me it’s time to stare down the bear and let it all hang out, even if that means typing Fuck sometimes instead of gosh-dang, even if that means coming across a little too strong for some folks, even if that means having some people step away cuz’ they don’t groove with what I’ve got going on here.

I’ve put that censors stamp on myself simply because one person said they preferred I didn’t cuss. Silly (of me, not them). Ridiculous. Not happening anymore.

I’ve also put a censors stamp on myself when it comes to anything spiritual. Just like Liina, I’ve very carefully edited out any of my spiritual beliefs from my blog to avoid potentially offending people who hold different beliefs than me.

I haven’t written posts on how crystals can enhance the energetics of your space and help you declutter. I haven’t written posts on why I believe it’s so important for clutterers to start doing smudging with sage and incense. I haven’t written posts on the stagnant energy that gets stuck in our stuff.

Why? Just like before, a simple fear of offending people. It’s silly, and my authentic self says that folks can handle a difference of opinion. I overlook some of the religious stuff that doesn’t fit with my beliefs when I’m visiting some of my fave’ bloggers, there’s no reason other folks wouldn’t do the same here.

Those are two simple little examples in my life where I’ve been censoring my authentic self. What about you? Where are you censoring yourself? If you don’t know, just feel for the resistance. My resistance came in the form of persistent writer’s block for the past month.

My creative muse was telling me I had to do something differently. It was telling me to stop censoring myself. What’s your creative muse telling you? I bet if you stop and listen for a moment you’ll get all kinds of little messages.

So here we are folks. You and I are Multi-faceted. Contradictory. At times confused. Amazingly human. Perhaps entertaining. And at the very least, god-damn real. Stretch. Grow. Expand. Shake off other people’s pre-conceived notions and let your light shine through.