Being REAL is a free-ing thing! Even if you think you’ll stand out like a black sheep I promise you that just being yourself is more relaxing than trying to be something you are not. You can let the weight of ‘shoulds’ fall off your shoulders. Then skip like a child. Just be happy to be the person you happen to be, regardless of any things you aren’t.
Unlike Barbie and Ken, our human lives will always be messy. Our teens will act up, maybe even on social media. Our marriage will have ups and down. We might be 20kg overweight, or the renovations we started 5 years ago may still not be finished. But that’s ok! Maybe we don’t want to study medicine like our parents wanted us to, or maybe we prefer to do Christmas in a much simpler way.
Becoming authentic means being real and confident about our situations and choices. Being REAL around others gives them permission to be REAL too! Less pressure all round.
We live in an era of epidemic numbers of people with burnout, depression and anxiety. Being authentic is one big step towards good mental health. It means learning to be comfortable in our own skin. No matter who we are around. Being the REAL you all the time simplifies life no end.
Authentic means embracing the lack of perfection in ourselves, in our lives, in our kids, and in our house and garden too!
Let’s say I invite a bunch of friends over. I could exhaust myself trying to look 100% fabulous, make the house 100% stylish and 100% clean, and cook something 100% gourmet. That would be at least 5-6 hours laborious preparation. My energy would be depleted before my friends arrived. Who wants a hostess like that?
Or, if I decided to be authentic, I would wear my favourite clothes, throw together an easy meal with a ready made cheesecake for dessert, light a couple of candles and put on a fun playlist. 1 hour preparation. Much like any normal evening. Then when the visitors arrive I am excited to see them! They go home happy too!
My husband and I live in a very small house and it has many unfinished renovation projects. We built on a room last year and it will be a while before we get the flooring done. I simply painted the subfloor for now. Many of the doorframes aren’t painted yet either. We could wait until it’s all finished until we invite people over, but that could take a while! Being authentic means we invite people over and they get to see the REAL us. Very imperfect. Very relaxed. Lots of fun!
A lot of people discover authenticity when they turn 50. I have heard countless just-turned-50 conversations like this: ‘Turning 50 is fantastic!! It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I just don’t mind what other people think anymore! It is so free-ing! I’m just going to be myself.’
You, my lovely reader, can discover this right now! Even if you are twenty!
Boundaries are important for authenticity. Without them we can end up doing things to please others rather than what works well for us. For example your friends pressure you to run a committee and you are out of your depth and stressed. Being firm about choices frees you up to do things that are a natural fit or bring joy.
Clues that you are not being the true authentic you in some parts of your life.
– Do you ever feel like you are constantly striving and it’s making you tired.
– Do you ever feel like you’re trying to meet other’s expectations but fall short?
– Do you come home at the end of a day and put on the clothes that really feel like ‘you’ and relax for the first time all day?
– Do you ever wear yourself out getting your house ready for guests and wish it were simpler?
– Do you find yourself buying things, or doing things to impress others?
If we are simply being ourselves and not putting on a persona, we reduce stress. Try it, every day, and with all groups of friends. Some people might be glad to get to know the REAL you.
One of my friends told me in passing that she was on the autism spectrum. I was so glad for her authenticity and confident openness! Suddenly I could understand her personality so much better and I loved her all the more. We can be open and fine about our unique qualities. Everyone has something unique!
From my own Christian worldview I believe that I am made by a loving Father God and he loves me just how I am. He does not want me to be fake or to try be perfect. He gifted me my personality and my skills and he knows my strengths and weaknesses. Even weaknesses are beautiful things as they help others be open about their own weaknesses around us. I feel so loved by God, just as I am and it helps me be more REAL around others. (OK I still dye my grey hairs, but mostly REAL!)
Finding yourself can take time.
An easy place to start is in your wardrobe. Start by eliminating clothes that you don’t like or don’t feel like you. (The Marie Kondo approach is very good for this.) We don’t usually grab things we don’t like so we may as well pass them on.
A couple of years ago I looked at my clothes and realised they weren’t even my style. What was my style? I wasn’t sure! I think most mums can lose a sense of themselves during motherhood as we are busy looking after kids. My clothes did not make me feel happy or pretty or comfortable. So I Marie Kondo’d them and then thoughtfully collected new ones over time. I have to say I feel much better when I go to work, as I feel like me in the outfits I have now! Last week I realised I wear the same style clothes on the weekend and to work and with friends. The style that I really like. That showed me I am being my natural self in all settings.
The next step is writing a list of any activities, passions and skills that you enjoy.
Find your tribe. If you are feeling really out of place with your bookish intellectual friends and long for more practical friends then join a carpentry or gardening class! Or maybe you are a quiet maths nerd and are exhausted by your socialite friends. Apply to some maths classes at Uni. Find your tribe.
Birds hang out with birds and cats hang out with cats. It is ok to switch tribes if you long for people with similar interests and passions.
To learn more about your skills and passions do some brainstorming.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
When do I come alive?
What is that setting?
What am I doing?
Who am I with?
It’s actually fun to understand yourself better and to accept that you are OK how you are! Laugh about your imperfections and keep on living! You are more loveable and joyful when you accept yourself as you are.
I hope this is the week you decide to become authentic. To just be you. The process can take a while for some people, even a year or two, but but it will be worth it! Comment and let me know how you go.
Have a great week and enjoy the lead up to Christmas.