“Not being yourself is like walking around in shoes that are
two sizes too small. At best you will be endlessly uncomfortable,
at worst you will end up bloody, scarred and crippled.”
~ Irene Barnett, after several lemon drops, half of a joint and an Excedrin PM
I’m not going to lie, I have been tortured by this first post in this series about Achieving Emotional Grace. I just felt like this first one should hit on a more foundational level and set the tone.
Oh, and also the debilitating realization that I’ve committed to something I have no idea I have the insight nor the cohones to deliver on.
I tend to get most of my ah-ha moments either in the shower or on the toilet. This one came to me on the toilet. And, knowing that many of you will read this while sitting in the same place, there is a certain synchronicity to this.
It occurred to me that much of the sage advice to come would be more useful within a bigger context.
So, I landed on Personal Authenticity.
Or, your naked truth…or intrinsic self….or genuineosity….because “Authenticity” is such a patchouli-smelling word that brings forth images of mood rings and Stevie Nicks.
The crux of it, regardless of label, goes like this: Lack of falsehood or misrepresentation.
When we are children, it would never enter our minds or hearts to be anything or anyone other than who we just…are.
But, as we get older, that truth can become clouded by outside influences for any number of reasons. Acceptance, insecurity, societal norms or just plain survival – any or all are solid reasons to create a persona or skin to wear in life.
What I think we don’t realize is that we are damaging ourselves in our pursuit of protection.
The longer we wear these personas, the deeper our authenticity is buried until it takes a team of archeologists to uncover the gem at the center. So, knowing who you are means clearing the debris.
I lost any connection to my personal foundation when I had kids. I know, I seem to blame them for a whole lot of stuff that seems pretty unfair given their small 11-year-old shoulders.
(I am, however, pretty certain they, alone, are responsible for the entire economic meltdown of 2008. And, I’m still looking into it, but, I think that whole ozone thing may be their doing as well.)
Mine was a slow disconnect that occurred without my even realizing it. Out of necessity and survival, I shifted most or all of my energy to these little people who depended on me so completely, losing sight of myself in the process.
It wasn’t until about 8 years into it that I realized I no longer had a clue as to who I was. For nearly a decade I steadily became untethered from myself until I barely had a memory of myself.
Bummer, huh? God, go get a drink. This broad is DEPRESSING!!!
Hey, the good news is, eventually, my survival instinct kicked in and I pretty much declared, “This next decade? This one is MINE, bitches!”
Which is all well and good but, how in the hell do you find your way back? I know I still struggle a lot with paying attention to those internal cues that tell me something just doesn’t ring quite true for me. It’s so easy to lose that in all our daily noise.
Ariana Huffington wrote a fantastic piece called Are You Living Your Eulogy Or Your Resume about living a life that is true to you. It’s a very compelling idea.
And, it’s your assignment.
(I know, you didn’t think there’d be homework. And no, this will not be on the mid-term. Don’t you give me that Judd Nelson look! Now stop asking questions and get back to your seat or it will be detention for you!!)
So, come on, kids, let’s write our own eulogies!!
Write it as it would be delivered today, not when you are 90 or 100. No need to hide behind that fabricated skin any longer. Just pure, unsullied, bona fide YOU.
You don’t care what anyone says or thinks.
Cuz’ you’re dead.
Do people REALLY know you? Do you REALLY know yourself?
Now that we have that first crazy-ass insurmountable goal in place, it will help to put all the other tidbits of wisdom to come in context. And, you can then pick and choose which insights ring true for you and which ones don’t.
Phew, I feel a little better now. Gotta go figure out the next installment.
Guess it’s time to take either a shower or a shit.
“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
~ Dr. Seuss