Her actions are well intentioned, and she is in fact, wonderful at keeping me safe. But, sometimes she gets in my way.
Imagine living each day with the recognition that your authentic nature, vulnerability, passion, creativity, and everything you are effortlessly, is not only enough, but amazing. What a release. What a relief. There was nothing wrong with being you in the first place.
But what happens when the people closest to you don’t want you to change? They are comfortable with the masks that you’ve learned to wear so well. They like the edited version of you. Perhaps acceptance of yourself, highlights disapproval within themselves, and they resent you. What if being your authentic self, means some relationships change for the worse?
How many times have you been told how to be? Or how not to be? Possibly hundreds. You may have learned to act a certain way to avoid disapproval, make decisions that make someone else happy, and that it was not ok to have your dreams, your opinions, and be you. If you were like me, your response may have been to either try to fit in, or hide, or both.
In the past, I spent a lot of time hiding, like I was walking around in clothes ten sizes too big for me, swallowing me up and rendering me invisible. Nobody could see the person underneath; no shape, no form, no strengths, no details or intricacies that were individual to me. I blended in, which was the plan; but it came at the expense of hiding myself for so long, that I also started to forget what ‘me’ felt like.
When I wasn’t hiding, I tried to fit in; be ‘normal’, conventional and surrender to what felt like everybody else’s expectation of me. To not fit in, meant I stayed weird, odd, and different; I was sick of hearing that.
But rarely feeling allowed to be me, came at a cost.
Physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.
This is how I felt after six years in full-time disorganised chaos. The incessant interruptions, unrelenting calls, back-to-back appointments and the black hole that was the open plan office, all pulling me in and draining my energy.
A significant attraction for introverts to work for themselves is the retreat from the energy vampires that an extroverted working environment often contains, towards more autonomy and opportunity for solitude that we require to rebalance.
Six months into my business, however, I’d suddenly found myself exhausted again. Immersed in both offline and online interaction, networking, learning how to run a business, learning how to use social media, writing blogs, extra training, building a website; all of this before the main purpose of my job, my clients!
Self-employment also means self-management. Without boundaries and self-care, burn out can continue to be a familiar and unwelcome visitor.
Here are five tips to help you work with your natural way of being:
How many times in your life have you been told how to be? Probably too many to count. You have learned it’s not ok to be vulnerable, to express your true feelings and genuine emotions. Even if you are breaking inside, your exterior exudes societies expectation of being ‘together’. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, you are ‘just fine’.
Responses to your feelings may have been to ‘think positively’ and to ‘cheer up’. Well-intentioned loved ones may have feared your unguarded emotions, while past experiences have persuaded you that vulnerability exposes your flaws.
Contributors to these stories, often project their own fears and beliefs onto you. Acknowledging your vulnerability and accepting you where you are, often means they have to acknowledge vulnerabilities of their own.
'Finding strength' has its place; it’s often the underpinning from which you are able to acknowledge pain, move through it and learn from your experience. But it does not come in the place of being vulnerable; it comes as a result of it. Being able to meet yourself where you are and show some self-compassion is where the true ability to live your life authentically comes from.
Every time you tell yourself that you’re ok, to ‘get over it’ and 'be positive', notice the energy this takes from you.