Being your authentic self is so easy to say, but not always so easy to do. Perhaps you think it’s no problem – not an issue – but I’d push you to think deeper. Think FEAR. Fear of what people will think of you. Fear that you’ll lose friends. Fear that you won’t be enough – smart enough, funny enough. Or maybe you’ll be too much. Most of us allow fear and ego drive a lot of our decisions and both should get out of the vehicle altogether, let alone be allowed to drive it.
While interviewing guests on my podcast, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve discussed the masks we wear to show others what we want to show. How ego and fear can guide us down paths that aren’t truly meant for us. I myself, with all my brazen talk over the years about being yourself, don’t follow my own dictate 100%. I tell my kids to “be yourself and the people who like you genuinely like the real you. The ones that don’t aren’t meant to be your friends. At least by being yourself, you’ll know.” I think about my closest relationships and who I am in those circumstances. How I portray someone slightly different to the world and how infinitely sad that is.
There’s a difference between having facets you show in certain circumstances and being authentic. At a work meeting, for example, I would be what someone recently called “a watered down version” of myself. Certainly, there’s a time to fly your freak flag and a time to dial it back. I’m not being disingenuous, rather catering to the situation. My unfiltered personality swears, isn’t politically correct, is louder than I’d like to admit and is sometimes abrasive. She’s also loving, altruistic and thinks everyone needs a hug whether you know it or not, so brace yourself for the incoming.
There’s a blog I’ve followed for years. Shut Up And Run is one of my favorites. I don’t personally know the woman who writes it, but one of the reasons I love it is because she tells things like they are. She says shit and fuck and “sweaty balls” or (gasp!) says the word “pussy” when it fits. I love her writing because she seems to be her more authentic self and not hold back – just tells it like it is. Yet, although I talk a lot like her to people close to me, I’m more prim and proper when I write as well as on social media. I think of saying something but I alter it, because God forbid I offend someone. Fear reminds me that I might be too abrasive. Ego reminds me people might not like me. If you asked me off the record, I’d tell you to be yourself un-guardedly and not be concerned for the benefit of someone else. If people really care about you, they’ll love you regardless of your differences and if you lose a couple friends in the process, so be it. But I don’t act that out.
So I’m changing my tune. I like who I am and I shouldn’t let fear dictate how much of me I show. I still believe that there’s a time and a place, but in my writing, my social media and my regular life, I’ll be a little less reserved. A little more my authentic self. When we recently ran out of bread and didn’t want to go to the store, I made sandwiches with leftover hamburger buns. D and I laughed about how white trash that was and I wanted to share it. So instead of thinking about it and doing nothing, I posted it. And I’m not stopping. I hope my friends remain, but if they don’t, I understand. As long as they are understanding as well. I want to be true to ME – and I’m not a fucking pussy.