It took me a long time - way too long - to come to this realization, but, now it's quite clear.
I am not for everyone.
As a first born I crave affirmation, yearning for recognition.
As a female I was taught that good things come to those who look the part, play the part and are envied by those around her because of it.
As a Christian I was taught that I need to do what is right - not necessarily according to my own personal standards, but according to the standards written for me.
As the only surviving sibling to a family ruined by drug abuse I was taught the power of guilt, shame and grief.
Compile these, and the many other pieces that when put together assemble the person that I am, and you get someone who looks for validation in alllllll the places, performing like a symbol-clad monkey according to the expectations and beliefs of those around me.
I wanted to be liked, adored, loved even by everyone around me and I couldn't begin to fathom the idea of authenticity. Sure, it sounded nice but I couldn't even understand what that meant, let alone how I might live it out in my life.
The day I discovered that authenticity meant letting go of the person I thought I should be and embracing the person I am felt so unbelievably freeing. And even more - to know that authenticity isn't something that I had or didn't have (there I go again, looking for a pat on the back because of my qualifications), but rather something that I choose to practice each day until it becomes my norm. The power that lies within the fact that it's my choice to show up vulnerably - as I am - bumps bruises and all - each and every day knowing that I have absolutely zero control over how the world receives me, it's magic.
Yes, some people will turn their noses up at your authenticity.
But you know what? The people who matter will love you regardless.
And guess what? You can't control their feelings or opinions no matter how hard you try. But you can shake those shackles off and embrace this truth: You are not for everyone. And that's okay.
Be for you. Learn who you are and show up. Own what you stand for, what you don't and what you're all about (or not about). Be for you. Own your integrity.
How can you arrive at authenticity? I don't know exactly. I think the road looks different for all of us. To be completely honest, for me, watching my coaching clients transform through this authenticity process has helped me to do the same. To see them shout proudly, "this is who I am and this is what I need", committed to living out their best life each and every stinking day - choosing to say no to the one-size-fits-all model - is the most beautiful and empowering thing I've ever witnessed.
So, if letting go of the person you think you should be and embracing the person you are feels as freeing to you as it did to me, go for it. And share your story! I'd love to hear from you.
What do you stand for?
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.