It is one of life’s challenges. To be our authentic selves in a world that wants us to fit in.
Finding a balance between satisfying the inherent human need for belonging and our individual desire to be unique is not easy. It is, however, imperative. To not be authentic drains you of lifeforce. It puts a ‘cramp on your style’ and can leave you feeling dissatisfied, disappointed and disillusioned.
Years ago, when I became a stockbroker, (I know. Unbelievable right?) I thought I had to dress the part. Conservative blue suit. White blouse. You know. Transform myself into the image of what I thought a female broker should look like, á la Anne Hathaway’s character Andy in The Devil Wears Prada who dresses up fashionista style only to get all the attention she wanted while losing her self-respect.
Fortunately, I figured out tailored suits are not my style and left the sector. Ok. There was more to why I left the sector but I like the poetic imperative of that statement so I’m sticking with it!
Eventually, by the time I started working at an adult homeless shelter, I had become comfortable with being me. I dressed to suit me. Listened to my heart and not everyone else’s opinions. Except, at the shelter, I worried that ‘all of me’ might be hard on those I deemed to have nothing and thought I should ‘tone-down my sunshiney ways and dress-down to fit in’. (I know. Can you spell ‘condescending’?) I quickly realized that being true to myself was more honest and authentic than fitting into what I thought other’s needed me to be, especially when in a place as dark and heavy as a homeless shelter, light and sunshiney ways are vital! As are honesty and authenticity.
Yet still, that little voice in my head (you know, ‘the critter’) sometimes like to sneak in and whisper not-so-sweet-nothings about how I need to tone myself down, or not be so… me. Sometimes, I think the critter is only happy when I do my best to be invisible!
No. 63 of my #ShePersisted Series says, No Way. Uh uh. Not happening.
Because, seriously? Why contort and distort who you are to fit into some uncomfortable-to-you measurement of what works for others when you are born to stand out in whatever way works for you?