This morning I was blessed to reconnect with an old friend and during our conversation, she referred to herself as a “reformed charlatan.” Curious as to why she would say that (I have always thought her to be quite the opposite) I simply came out and asked her. She stated that when we were close friends I “knew of her, but I never really knew her.” She said that when we hung out back in the day she was not being her true self. In fact she was hardly ever authentic. I was in total shock hearing this, but realized after our conversation that she had traded who she really was for the security of being liked by me and the rest of her friends and co-workers.
What I didn’t tell her, because this conversation really needed to be about her, is at that time, I also was not being authentic. I didn’t let her know that just like her I too was disrespecting myself by choosing not to be who I was meant to be. For me, one of the issues was allowing others to make major choices for me and/or to influence very important decisions in my life. The first major choice I ever allowed someone to make or have a major influence over+ was my career choice. My grandmother, who I spent much of my time with and a family friend/mentor found me to be kind and nurturing. Because of this they thought that I would make the “perfect nurse.” I loved helping others and respected their opinions, but the truth is that if it had been left up to me, that would have not been my career choice. What I know now that I didn’t accept then is that it was always my choice. However, I didn’t trust in myself enough to make that decision and found myself doing something that was not totally fulfilling for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love nursing, and I did get some joy out of it, but it was not my true passionate.
Then and throughout my lifetime I have paid huge prices for not expressing my true wants and needs and for not believing in myself enough to make my own choices. Throughout those years I put on a façade, making others believe that I was perfectly happy. I defined my self-worth by how “perfect” others thought I was and I continued to live my their “standards.” But one day I encountered someone who saw right through me and it didn’t take him long to call me out on him. So there I was stripped down to my fakeness and it was then that I started my journey to authenticity.
Believe me when I say that that this is a long, hard journey. There are absolutely no shortcuts. Finding your true self takes commitment and an extensive amount of inner work. It takes diving deep into your inner mess and feeling all the pain you have repressed. It takes forgiving yourself and anyone else who has hurt you. For me it also took stripping away that façade of perfection and accepting that neither I or anyone else was a perfect person. Through my journey of becoming a true and authentic person I found the strength to become bold an courageous. I discovered a level of self-respect that I had never known and became impeccable when I spoke about myself to myself and others.
I am scheduled to have lunch with my friend this weekend and I am excited about what I have to convey to her. Another friend, who will also be joining us, asked if I am concerned that she will be upset with me. The truth is, no I am not. I no longer concern myself with the potential of being rejected. I have made being authentic a daily practice and along with it comes embracing my truth and being brave enough to share it freely!