I’ve always been an introverted, somewhat shy person. Uncomfortable in new environments, with people I didn’t know, there was a time in my life when it was easier to pretend I was someone different than to be my awkward true self.
It’s not like I adopted a fake name and totally faked who I was. But I would pretend to be okay with things that I actually wasn’t comfortable with. I would keep thoughts and opinions to myself for fear of being ostracized for disagreeing with others. I would hide the quirkiest, weirdest, most “out there” parts of myself so people would think I was “normal” and like me.
It took a long time for me to realize that being “normal” was overrated and I’d much rather be liked for my weird, quirky self. It took a long time for me to realize that if I said I disagreed with someone or expressed my discomfort with something and it chased someone away, that was not a person I wanted in my life anyway.
But once I did realize those things, and started being myself all the time, it freed me. It freed me to stop worrying what other people thought, to stop feeling tense and uncomfortable all the time, and to surround myself with the people and relationships that were truly meaningful and accepted me for who I am.
And honestly, I still struggle with it sometimes. I’m human, just like you, and that means I’m not perfect.
Are you comfortable being yourself in all situations? If you’re like most people, you’re 90% yourself when you’re with close friends, 50% yourself with casual acquaintances, and hide yourself from strangers. Being your true self in all settings and situations is scary, but ultimately empowering and relaxing. Imagine the relief you’ll experience.
You no longer have to worry about the perceptions of others. You can just be yourself and feel satisfied with that.
Be yourself and take back control of your life.
Meditation quiets the part of you that judges and labels everything around you. It allows you to observe your thoughts and emotions without getting attached to them. And this gives you some distance from yourself, allowing you to get to know yourself and get comfortable with who that is.
Gain some insight into the real you by meditating regularly. 5–20 minutes once a day is all you need to start learning who you really are and getting more comfortable with yourself.
Tell the truth
When you’re truthful, you reveal yourself. Being truthful requires being vulnerable, though, and that makes most of us uncomfortable — especially when we’re with strangers or people we don’t know very well. Yet even in those instances, honesty can be the doorway to being who you really are.
Be honest about your mistakes and shortcomings. Let people see that you’re human and as such, flawed. Let people know your true thoughts and feelings, even if they’re not in line with everyone else’s.
The true you isn’t exactly like everyone else. What music do you listen to when you’re alone? How do you dress? Do you keep the unique parts to yourself or are you willing to share them with the world?
Remember that there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to people. There’s average, which just means typical or mediocre — and who wants to be either of those? Whatever makes you unique is what you should be most proud of — it’s what makes you stand out from the rest.
Notice your crutches and get rid of them
Rocky road ice cream? Mindless internet surfing? A double vanilla café latte? Using crutches to deal with boredom, anxiety or uncertainty is blocking you from seeing the truth. We all have crutches and there’s a reason behind each crutch.
What is the purpose of a particular crutch? Stop using it and see for yourself. When you stop using the crutch and deal with the reason behind it instead, you become happier and more yourself.
Examine the areas in your life that feel inauthentic
When and where do you feel like you’re lacking authenticity? Often it will be during interactions with strangers, first dates, new social experiences, and more formal occasions. In those moments, you can feel your fakeness in the plastic smile you wear, the laugh that sounds nothing like your usual laugh, and the clothes you wear.
A lack of authenticity can also occur when you spend time with your parents and siblings. They just don’t seem to want you to change, so you fall back into your old roles. Instead of being you and letting them get to know who you are now, you just pretend to be who they want you to be so they can be comfortable. But it makes you uncomfortable, so is it really worth it?
Think about the times you’re inauthentic and ask yourself why. Who benefits from your inauthenticity and how? How can you make being your authentic self more beneficial?
Spend your time on things you enjoy
What do you really enjoy? Do you play on the softball league so you’ll fit in? Would you rather be taking rumba lessons? Spend your free time on the things that you’re most passionate about.
Take some time to evaluate all your hobbies and interests. If there’s anything less than pure pleasure and enjoyment from them, consider why you do them. If it’s not because you truly love and enjoy them to the fullest, replace them with ones you do truly love and enjoy to the fullest.
Do one thing you want to do but are afraid to try
The people at the office might laugh if you take up the cello or take an acting class. However, secretly, they’ll be jealous that you have the nerve to do something unconventional. Everyone you know is stifled and bored. You can rise above all of that.
Now I’m not talking about facing big fears here. You don’t need to get over your fear of heights or water. This is about doing something you want to do but don’t because of what others might think. It’s that secret love — that secret thing you find yourself wishing you could do but tell yourself you can’t because people will laugh, think it’s weird, or whatever else you tell yourself. And maybe they will. Do it anyway.
Give your opinion
Not necessarily all of the time; but give your opinion if it won’t hurt anyone. Going to see a movie with some friends? Tell them the movie you’d most like to see. The family wants to go to the public pool or the park? Let your opinion be known.
All too often, we stifle our own opinions. It might be because “majority rules” so why bother to state our differing opinion? Or it might be that you’ve learned to be a people pleaser and so it’s easier to keep quiet. Maybe people have ignored you in the past when you’ve spoken up so you feel it’s pointless now. Whatever the reason, remember that you have opinions for a reason. You’re allowed to express them. Well, unless…
Wife wants to know if she looks fat in her dress? Be smart.
An indoor environment is unnatural. The air is heated or cooled. The lighting is artificial. You can’t see the sun, hear the birds, or feel the grass beneath your feet. Get yourself into a more natural environment and you’ll find it easier to be authentic.
Spend just a few minutes outside each day. Do your morning meditation outside. Sit outside for your lunch break. Go for an after-dinner walk with the family. Play tag or hide-and-seek with the kids in the backyard.
Strengthen your boundaries
Where your boundaries are weak, your true self is being smothered. These are the places we allow others to determine the rules and set the frame. You’ll know these places by the high amounts of energy they drain from you. When you identify them, get to work on strengthening them.
It can be hard to strengthen and enforce boundaries. But when you do, you create space to be yourself. And that creates a sense of freedom that can make boundaries even easier.
Overcome your need to fit in and impress others. Fitting in just means being like everyone else. No matter what you do, some people will be impressed and others won’t. Why worry about it? Be you and shine bright. You’re an amazing person. Allow yourself to be that person each and every day.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting, while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for her newsletter where she offers more insights, tips, tricks, advice, and information to help single moms find purpose, creativity, passion, and peace.
You might also enjoy:
You say I’m unique like it’s a bad thing!
Even so-called friends can judge you, but why should you listen?
Lost Yourself As a Mom? Ask Yourself These Questions
If you feel lost on the motherhood journey, these questions can be a map back to yourself