Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Letting It All Hang Out

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about authenticity. You know, all that stuff about "being yourself".  Finding that happy balance between showing that you know what you are talking about and not having a clue. Being somewhat vulnerable. Showing your flaws.  In other words...letting it all hang out.

Why are we usually so afraid to let the less-than-perfect parts of ourselves be seen? Why do we think that we alone are the only one with faults?  Why do we think that people even care?  People are so busy with the hustle and bustle of their own lives that they hardly have time to notice our messy parts, let alone their own. It's funny when you think about it.  We are afraid of letting our broken parts be seen, but this is exactly what helps people to know us better.  It builds trust. It builds loyalty. It creates interest. It sets you free.

My dear friend Catherine recently started a blog called Subtle Fire and I so admire her.  Not only for her smarts, but for her bare-boned approach to telling it like it is.  For showing how she views life through her own unique lens.  Her blog is so raw and fresh and honest and engaging.  She is writing with a truly authentic voice. She's a rock star.

I have always struggled with being the "good girl" and doing what I am "supposed" to do in life.  I have always wanted to please my parents and make them proud. I didn't realize until I was in my 30s that you can be your messy, broken, lovely self, and still people will be proud of you.  In fact, people are typically even MORE proud of you to show the less-than-perfect side of yourself because it takes courage. And from my prior blogs, you know how much I love courage.

My closest friend in high school Michelle taught me one of the most helpful concepts in navigating relationships, now and in the past. She said, "You like someone because. You love them although." You like people for certain qualities about who they are, but in order to truly love them, you care about them even though they (fill in the blank - drive you nuts sometimes, hurt you on occasion, show you their messy get the picture.)  Thinking this way allows people you love to be messy - and still be loved. Conversely, it allows you to do the same thing. 

There is freedom in knowing that you can truly be your authentic self - you can make mistakes, you can show your "shadow" self, you can be flawed - and you can still be loved.  Should it surprise me that it took me over 30 years to figure this out?  Such a simple concept, and yet not such an easy one to fully embrace. Better late than never, right?

Although it is scary sometimes, there is no sense in hiding parts of yourself.  By accepting them and acknowledging them, you are giving other people permission to do the same for themselves. This is such a gift to them - and a gift to yourself.