By Deborah Marini ~
In life you hear a lot of advice about finding yourself:
Be true to you
Be who you are
Always be yourself
But what if you have no idea who “you” are?
How do you know if you’re being true to yourself or not if you don’t even have an outline as to who you are authentically?
That journey to finding out who we are is actually more than just a good idea ….
It’s our purpose.
We are all unique… yes we connect with people and their ideas. We even comment that we are “the same person” sometimes. But we aren’t. Each of us possesses a unique footprint that we use to leave our imprint on our path through life.
So how we do find ourselves? Do we really need to camp in a sweaty lodge with 45 other people as we meditate? Do we need to attend yoga classes, self-help classes, discovery classes or character building classes? The answer is yes and no.
Figuring out who we are authentically is a process that is as unique as we are. It’s really a “whatever works for you” process. It’s filled with lots of truthful, painful reflection. Honesty is the key word here!
When my mother was a young mom with four children under the age of four we all moved back to Pennsylvania from Ohio so my father could take over the family business. My mother was cast instantly into the spotlight of the eyes of the family. I guess you could compare it to Megan Markle and the royals!
Well, as an indirect result it instilled in us this need to be perfect whenever we were around family. No fighting, no bad behavior at holiday visits or reunions because all eyes were on us. I don’t fault my mom at all, she was a nervous wreck as I would have been if it happened to me! But that absolute need to be perfect stuck with me.
I have to say here that the person I admire the most is my older sister. As I was striving to be perfect she was simply striving to…well…be herself. She paved her own trail, held her own opinion and fought her own battles. Yes, at times the battles were pure stubbornness but oh how I admire her! I actually had never told her that until just now. I’m sure it was tough for my mom and dad but I think it didn’t need to be. There was an acceptance that can be practiced if we all release our ego in the process. If we can all express our opinions and views in a safe place and be willing to listen to another’s view it can create such a win/win (but that’s all about another blog)!
Anyway, as I look back and reflect on my need to be perfect I realize it created this person that truly had no opinion.
If I was on a date and asked what movie I wanted to see. I didn’t know. It wasn’t that I was afraid to say, I just really had no idea what kind of a movie I liked so the answer would be “what do you feel like seeing?”
On the rare occasion that I would offer my opinion and someone else offered a different one, my convictions would melt away like ice cream on a hot summer day. Not because I wanted to be liked (which I did), but because I would believe less in myself and more in their opinion. Don’t get me wrong here, to change ones opinion after hearing another, reasoning through it, understanding where they’re coming from and have a light bulb moment is admirable and wise!! It’s more about letting your views disappear into a wave of insecurity about your own thoughts that stunts your ability to find out who you really are.
You never know who you are until you express your view, defend it, fall in love with it and hug it then realize you are unique and not everyone will share that view, and that’s ok!
Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way that guide us to our authentic and unique self:
When our children were younger they were taught to honor themselves if they ever felt something wasn’t right. They called it the “oops” feeling. I love that term!
When you’re having an “oops” feeling about not having been authentic at a party, with friends, with family, anywhere.
Ask yourself questions:
“Why do I feel this way?”
“What do I feel I could have said or should have said?”
“How did I act?” Then replay in your head the scene and act the way you authentically wanted to act. You can’t change the past but you can always tap into your authenticity and bring it closer to the surface. Getting to know the real you takes asking hard questions, saying ok it happened, then being able to see how it can be handled authentically the next time. Learning.
DON’T EVER FEEL STUPID
If something felt right at the time to say …. say it… walk tall… and move forward. (I should mention here my rule of ‘never text in your pajamas’!!) Something said while not in your authentic state will NOT come out as authentic!
As long as you are coming from a place of peace, love and compassion and you have something you need to say, then say it. If you’ve been hurt and it enables you to release it by being open and honest with that person, say it.
But say it from where you come from not how you want them to receive it.
This is so important. To express our feelings cannot come with an “if I do this then maybe they’ll do that” tag attached. It must be from our heart and for our purpose, not an anticipated response. Sit with it. Ask the questions. See how you feel. And express gently from an “I” point of view.
“The way you spoke to me made me feel….”
“I felt as if my …”
Then release those feelings of anger and hurt like a balloon.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve sent a text, felt so vulnerable, awaited a response, and it never came. There was a time where it made me feel worse until ….. the next step…
LOVE YOU FOR YOU
I am a feeler
I am a deep
I am in love with human behavior and what makes people tick
I ask questions
I don’t judge the answers… ever
Not everyone is like me. I finally realize that it’s ok! For all of the times I’ve gotten a crazy look from the busy cashier when I ask “how’s your day going?” I’ve also gotten insight into their kids’ lives, how they spend their holiday, that there mom or dad is ill or that their son just graduated college!
For all the times my kids make fun of me for asking random questions of their friends. I’ve also had them say how much their friends love coming over for hugs.
For all of the times I’ve straight up told people how much they mean to me and gotten no response. I’ve had the tear-filled answers saying “I needed that today!”
I want to buy a t-shirt that says:
“Vulnerable and Proud of it!”
It’s taken me years to be ok with being vulnerable because it’s who I am. Allowing myself to be an open book comes with a lot of hurt but the regret of not saying how I felt is far worse.
So, go be unapologetically YOU… feelings are feelings and they’re never wrong ! Can’t say that enough.
I’ll end this with a story:
One day I literally looked like a hot mess!! I was in my sweats, t-shirt with my coffee stain and flip flops and realized I forgot to get something at the store. I can’t even remember what but it must have been important because I don’t even think I had washed the “night before” mascara off my face!
Anyway, you get the picture …
As I walked into the store this gorgeous woman was walking out. Beautiful skirt, heels, hair flowing in the wind like a model shoot and this amazing satin top!! I loved that top!! So as I held the door for her to exit I looked her in the eyes and said “your top is amazing… you are stunning!!”
This could have gone several ways:
1) she could rush home to change because a hot mess woman thought she looked great
2) a polite smile then … booking it to her car!!
3) a call to 911
But … this is what happened:
She hugged me. She hugged me and started to cry. She said she had just lost her husband and it had taken every ounce of energy for her to wake up and shower to face the day. Then added, “to have someone that is so beautiful say I looked stunning made my day!”
So there you have it, I, in all my imperfect hot mess, was beautiful!!
Here’s the lesson in finding ourselves.
Be kind to yourself. Try to see you the way the world sees you. One persons hot mess is another persons treasure. It’s all in perspective. See yourself for the reason you were created. The way God sees you.
We are all beautiful.
Good luck in this hide and seek journey to find yourself. And when you do…. don’t ever let go!!
Mental Health First Aid Instructor
Owner/The Awareness Impact LLC
“Awareness is the Key to Understanding “