If you can’t be yourself, who can you be? Or better yet, who are you trying to be? Being true to yourself is all about being authentic and in integrity.
Always be a first-rate version
of yourself; instead of a second-rate version
of somebody else.
– Judy Garland
The message in this quote is crystal clear. If you try to be someone you are not you will only be second-rate and you will most likely feel a lot of dis-ease and struggle in the process. The world doesn’t need another “so and so”, it needs you and your unique gifts.
- Have you ever been in a job where you didn’t fit in but tried like hell to conform?
- Have you ever been in a relationship where you tried to change to please your partner?
- Are you gay or lesbian and familiar with dancing around the topic of your personal life?
- Did you come out of the closet because the risk of doing so was less risky than spending your life trying to pass or cover up a part of who you are?
If any of these ring true for you you know first hand the stress associated with not being authentic and trying to be something you are not. It is not only exhausting but it prevents you from showing up fully in your life and achieving heartfelt success. Let’s face it, success when you’re compromising who you really are is not very fulfilling.
And, the pressure to cover up who you really are – regardless of whether that is gay, straight, creative, sensitive, spiritual, or whatever, is really driven home by a New York Times Article from earlier this year entitled The Pressure to Cover. The blog A Few of my Favorite Things discusses it at length. While it is a bit of a lengthy read, it does drive home the point that covering and conforming is still the #1 expectation in our society if you want to “get ahead”.
What You Can Do
The first thing you can do to live a more authentic life is to really get to know yourself. I know that sounds silly, but try it out! Spend some quality time alone, like you might with a best friend, and really get to know what makes you tick. A few years ago there was a period of time where I found myself doing a lot of soul-searching. My circle of friends had diminished greatly and I was experiencing personal change from the inside out. I believe this intense period spent journaling, reading, doing workshops, and really getting beyond the surface of who I am was some of the most fruitful time I ever spent.
Consider exploring questions like:
- What do I really want from my life?
- Do I have a personal vision?
- What makes me feel most alive?
- What are my passions?
- What is my life purpose?
- What legacy do I want to leave?
Getting to know yourself is a lifelong process, but you can get at the core of who you really are fairly quickly. The fastest path is to get in touch with your feelings and your body. Take a stab at meditation, journaling, yoga or any practice that supports you in spending quality time being with yourself.
Once you get a sense of who you are (at least for this moment in time) — define what success looks like to you. It looks different to different people and success on your own terms is the only success worth having. My previous post What is Success? may help you out. And, tune in here for future articles on this very topic. Remember…
“If your success is not on your own terms,
if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.”