“You took my light, you drained me down. But that was then, and this is now. Now look at me. This is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me, no. Throw your sticks and your stones. Throw your bombs and your blows. But you’re not gonna break my soul.” -Part of Me (Katy Perry)
I recently wrote a post on my facebook page about authenticity (the act of being genuine/your true self). A friend of mine messaged me today and said “You already are the most authentic person I know!” For me, that is a huge compliment! I strive to live as (and accept) the person I want to be – faults and all. It’s not always easy that’s for sure, but it’s very important to me.
Why is being authentic such a big deal for me now? When I was younger, I often felt misunderstood. Here are a few examples: I remember getting in trouble when I was in Grade 1 because as the “bathroom monitor” I had told the others kids to ‘shut up’ instead of ‘be quiet’. The teacher yelled at me and spanked me. I didn’t really understand why I was in trouble; I thought I was just doing my “job”. When I was in Grade 6, a girl in my class was surprised to find out that I lived in a “regular” house. For some reason she thought I was rich and lived in a mansion. She said she had always been kind of jealous of me – until she found out that I was just a “normal” person like her. In Grade 9, a teacher asked my opinion on something in class one day, and I got in trouble for saying what I thought (which was contradictory to him). I was called a snot and was told that I had an attitude problem. When I was in Grade 12 and during my first year of university, I worked at a gas station, and one of my coworkers there told me I was “intimidating”. He said that guys didn’t want to ask me out because I was “too good” for anyone. I found that completely perplexing – I was just a nice girl from small town Hants County – no one uniquely special (and certainly not exuding any confidence that would lead anybody to think they were below me). I was just being me.
“I must learn to love the fool in me – the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.” ~Theodore Isaac Rubin~
Based on experiences like the ones above, I started thinking there was something wrong with me. I found myself being defensive about who I was (and unsure of who I “should” be). I didn’t understand why people couldn’t “see” me – the true me who was just trying to be honest and real. I called myself bossy, outspoken, and opinionated (along with a lot of other negative self-talk). Because I felt like those were all bad qualities, I consequently thought I was a bad person. I created a belief in my head that replayed many times over in my life: “When I’m honest (or when I’m myself), people don’t like me.” That’s a painful (and very limiting) story to tell yourself.
Then one day I just realized (ok – it took some serious coaching!) that I wasn’t too much for people – that people were too little for themselves! There will always be people who have the “do as I say not as I do” mentality. There will always be people who judge you without knowing you. There will always be people who aren’t able to have a good debate – agreeing to disagree if that’s the reality you’re faced with. And of course, there will always be critics. The important thing to remember is to stay true to what you believe in. You know who you really are, and you know what your value is in the world. Don’t let other people’s opinions keep the real you hidden. You being you is the path to freedom for your soul.
“Take a stand and speak your truth. Realize you are worthy of being loved and don’t let anyone treat you less than. It is up to you to respect and protect your spirit. This is your life and your journey – make the best of it. Don’t let anyone stand in the way of your happiness.” ~Melanie Koulouris~