Be Unapologetically You
When was the last time you danced with the abandonment of a child, allowed yourself to dream about what you really want to be or felt completely relaxed in a social situation because you were being unequivocally you?
“I am who I am, and who I am needs no excuses.” We’ve heard the lyrics and sang the song but somewhere along the way the true meaning of this simple phrase has been marginalised by a need to fit in, please people and seek validity from those we identify as role models, mentors and peers. ‘I am who I am’, becomes ‘I am who other people need me to be’ as we learn to shift identities, experiment with them and create a collection of masks that we will wear throughout our lives. In fact sometimes we wear so many masks that we forget the face underneath – the true self, the unique spirit and the soul that makes you, you!
So in world consumed by image, material belongings, judgement of self and others how do we throw off societies constraints and live a life that is authentic and true?
Becoming authentic is a process to begin knowing ourselves. To understand our own personality traits, behaviours, values, beliefs, needs, goals and motives. It’s having the courage to acknowledge our limitations, and embrace our own vulnerability.
(Tina Williamson – 5 Masks We Wear and Why We Should Take Them off)
Perhaps the first step to knowing yourself is to stop worrying what everyone else thinks about you.
A very experienced businessman once told me, ‘what other people think of me is non of my business’ and this line has stuck with me since. It was a revelation to fully understand that no matter what you do you simply cannot please everyone; people are people and will always have opinions. But that’s all it is - their opinion - NOT your reality. Ultimately you have absolutely no control over what other people think, feel or do but you do have control over living by the values that feel right to you, the kind of person you are and how you present yourself. Have faith in your intuition and live a life true to your spirit rather than one that seeks the approval of others.
Once you start focussing on what’s right for you, it’s amazing how you start to get to know yourself again. Sometimes we’ve worn masks for such a long time that we don’t even realise we’re wearing them. Pretending to be someone that you’re not is exhausting and numbing, getting to know yourself again is enlightening, empowering and exciting. Why not sit down and write a list of all your strengths and weaknesses, your perfections and imperfections and make a decision to love every single one of them because they make you who you are. Despite what Social Media images portray, there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ and we need to stop pretending there is. It’s our imperfections that make us human and opens us up to more genuine relationships with others. As Judy Garland once famously said, ‘always be a first rate version of yourself rather than a second rate version of someone else.’
Part of being the best you can be is learning to be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for saying and doing stupid things, for mistakes that may have hurt people in the past or promises that you have made and broken. Self-criticism is natural and can be a good way of evaluating how you might change things next time, but when it turns into a constant barrage of negative self-talk, ‘we start to only concentrate on our failures which in turn can lead to higher stress levels and even depression.’
STOP beating yourself up and start cultivating positive beliefs about yourself. Think about what you contribute to those around you, the difference that you make to other people’s lives, the service you offer at work or in your community. If you strip away the negative and focus on the positive, you will realise just how truly amazing you are and the need to seek approval from others will no longer be necessary.
Learning to love yourself unequivocally is something that takes time and effort and perhaps an element of maturity; but with it comes huge reward. Celebrate your uniqueness, - there is only one of you. You are capable of incredible things, you mean the world to at least one person, you can change someone’s life by exposing your own vulnerabilities and you can inspire people to achieve their full potential just by staying true to your values; so find the courage to go out and share your gifts with the world, because to do so will make it a better place.
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”(Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience).
 Negative Self Talk: 9 Way to Silence Your Inner Critic, Jancee Dunn