How many times have you been told how to be? Or how not to be? Possibly hundreds. You may have learned that introspection, sensitivity and reticence get lost in the ether drowned out by sociability, spontaneity and loud. Being quiet is not ok; needing time alone is not ok; being you is not ok. If you were like me, your response may have been to either try to fit in, or to 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 too quiet; I was sick of hearing that.
But rarely feeling allowed to be me, came at a cost. Imagine trying to squeeze yourself into something that doesn’t fit you every single day, restricting your movement, pinching you, making you feel uncomfortable, irritable, while the real you tries to spill out between the gaps, gasping for air, release and to be freed. This is how I felt. Moulding myself on the outside, for the sake of approval, while the real me was fighting for breath. Overwhelmed, exhausted, discontented. But most of all I was unhappy.
“When I seek your approval, I don’t approve of the me that’s seeking the approval”. – Byron Katie
Hiding who we are can feel less exposing, and even safer sometimes. If we are invisible or similar, there is less danger of feedback and rejection. However keeping a lid on our innate nature; our intuition, creativity, sensitively, fierce independence, inspiration and everything else that make you special, stays boxed in, while the messages that something is wrong with you continue to seep out and intensify.
If you feel you have spent enough of your lifetime conforming and hiding, but fear that being yourself will be a painful and uncomfortable journey, I ask you to consider this; how painful and uncomfortable has it been to always feel unable to be yourself?
How draining has it been to suppress yourself, ignore your own feelings and not be able to communicate authentically to anyone else? How has it felt to restrict your true nature, like keeping a secret that you are dying to tell?
And then consider what it would be like to wear the personality you were born with. It fits you and reveals you, your unique shape, and your Introvert nature. It moves with you, and flows as you do, allowing you to breathe, to flourish, to be, and it looks amazing on you. This is what being authentic to my innate introvert nature feels like to me. Carefully crafted, made to measure, individually tailored to me, honouring my needs, my gifts, my strengths, my sacred solitude and my long term well being.
I no longer choose to fit or hide, having spent quality time recently trying myself on for size. I am even less interested in seeking approval or adjusting myself so that the masses feel comfortable. That does not mean that I’m unaffected; I still take things to heart, I’m highly sensitive and, I’m a human being. But working on being completely authentic feels wonderful. There is nothing wrong with me, and there is nothing wrong with you.