A while ago, I was guest on a pod cast created by me friend Christina. She uses this platform to discuss self esteem and self confidence, she asked me to come on because she felt I embodied those two things…..ummm wow. Its funny because when talking about myself I wouldn’t say that I have particularly good self esteem nor am I particularly confident, in some things. Let me explain.
When I look back at photos of myself when my children were younger, I feel the pain of the girl looking back at me. I had no idea who I was. I was not confident and had zero self esteem. I was a bit of a chameleon. When I worked at the flower shop, I pretended to be a young urbanite, when I worked at the office, I faked my way along and pretended to be a boss lady. When I worked at the scrapbook store, I adapted to fitting in there, and when I taught playschool yet again, I was a different person. I loved all of these jobs, but I was not authentically myself at any of them. I was playing a part, for better or for worse. I was anything but authentic.
Here is an example. I hate animal print, personally its just not my thing. If you do, more power to you, this is not a judgment on character. Anyway, when I worked at the scrapbooking store one of the women that worked there LOVED animal print, and she also loved anything with bling, sparkle and crystals. She was a ‘girly-girl’, she always had her nails done, makeup on, hair perfect. She dressed so well put together and polished. She was always wearing jewelry and something shiny. After working there for some time, I started to take on that persona. I went from not really caring about what I looked like to having the nails, dyed hair, fancy clothes (more than just jeans and t-shirts), nice shoes, jewelry and wearing make up. I convinced myself that I liked to wear bling and color. Now again I want to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it is not who I am. And in fact I couldn’t be more opposite of that now. I remember a few thing particularly, one was a teal shirt with big swirls of bling on the front, another was an animal print necklace that I used to wear (cringe). I used to have rhinestones imbedded in my nails, my glasses had rhinestones on the side, my purses were flashy and some even pink. I remember feeling like I was trying to be something, like I was trying to fit into this person that the world would like. I was not living authentically.
Also, about this time I remember an afternoon that I was looking for clothes. Pinterest had just come out and I had started a board all about my style. Nothing that I was pinning to my board was remotely close to how I was presenting myself to the world. And I remember crying because I felt so disconnected from how I wanted to be. (I was also crying because being a fat person, the option to dress the way I truly wanted to be was not accessible to me, but that’s a post for another day). I must tell you that this was not the first time that I felt that way. For years I had felt as if I wasn’t really being myself. I didn’t feel like my outsides matched my insides; I wasn’t portraying myself authentically.
So, fast forward a few years later, I am finally beginning to feel like my outsides match my insides. I am finally living my authentic life.
First let’s talk about physically. Being a fat women, clothes are only just starting to be diverse in what is offered. I now feel like I can dress the way that reflects who I am, I wear a lot of black…whatever that means! I tend to wear clothes that are simple, plain, casual and sometimes even boring. My favorite jeans are ripped, my favorite t-shirt is a black scoop neck. I rarely wear shirts that say anything. In fact I have three, one says Free Mom Hugs, one says Invest in Kindness and the other says that I am a member of the True Crime and Murder Club! (Although I do own a lot of band shirts and hoodies) Ha! I like to wear boots and shoes that are practical yet still somewhat cool. I have an amazing pair of what are now vintage Doc Martens. What has changed the most since my days of unknowing is that I am now heavily tattooed, I have piercings and my hair is jet black (I am no longer trying to be blonde). My tattoos are an extension of me, all deeply personal and one of my most favorite things ever. At 43 years old I finally feel like my outsides match my insides. I finally feel like the world is seeing me for who I am. Take it or leave it. This is me.
Now living an authentic life is still and always will be a work in progress. It took me many, many years to find out what that meant to me. To me living authentically is all about doing the things that are in alignment with my values and boundaries.
My job is in alignment of my value of being of service to people, yet also providing me with nourishment. I have had many jobs. Being a florist allowed me to be creative daily, being a playschool teacher was good for my desire to be a leader, being an office manager allowed me to use my organizational skills. Being a yoga teacher, yoga therapist and business owner is allowing me to do all those things, but with the added bonus of also enriching my life with spiritual growth and learning about myself as a person. I finally feel like I am working authentically and that my purpose is defined.
As for other areas of my life it has taken me some time to find that authenticity that I have been after for so long. Being a parent is a trip, no body is prepared to be a parent and so you kind of fumble your way along for the first little while, picking things up to try from here and there, whether it be parenting books or friends and family. It took me a long time to become a parent that I am at peace with. I have realized that I do not need to be the mom that bakes my kids birthday cakes from scratch. I do not need to be the parent who does all of the activities that my kids do, I can happily cheer them on from the sidelines. I try to show my kids that being a parent doesn’t mean that I cannot be myself. My kids don’t have to love yoga for me to love yoga, just as I don’t have to love skiing. Me being authentic gives them permission to do the same. I hope that my example will allow them to become their authentic selves at a much younger age than I was.
Being an authentic version of myself has had its effects on my friendships over the years. The friends that I have now know exactly who I am. They don’t have to guess. AND I am no longer giving every inch of myself to have friends. I am aware of my boundaries, and I hold firm to them. When my friends upset me, I tell them and when I’ve done something wrong, I will apologize rather than make an excuse. My friendships have become deeper and more enriching to my life because I no longer am trying to be something that I am not. The people that are in my life now are here because they appreciate me for who I am, not how I serve them.
So I view authenticity as an extension of self esteem and self confidence. I am not always confident, when learning something new or trying a new activity, I may not feel confident in myself and my abilities, however if I can remain authentic to who I am then I wont ignore my values or blow past my boundaries to do something or be something that I am not. I can try new things, know that I may not succeed but know that I will remain true to myself while I try.
As for self esteem, I would actually say that mine is not that great. I have a very mean voice in my head that says some awful stuff to me. There are some things that I know I excel at, somethings that I know my worth and my value, and then there are lots of ways that I doubt myself. Self esteem may be one of the lessons that I am meant to learn in this incarnation of my life.
For the past two years authenticity has been one of my Core Desired Values (for more information on this check out Danielle LaPorte). It is a value that I strive to uphold everyday. How I present myself both publicly and to the people I love, needs to be done authentically or else I feel like I’ve let myself down. I cannot and will not try to make myself fit anyone else’s definition of who, what or how I should be, I’m over that. When I am older and living the last of my days I want to be able to look back and say that the second half of my life was lived on my terms, that I did it my way.
All this talk about authenticity may have you wondering what the point is, and you may be feeling like I’ve got it all figured out, but like I said it’s a work in progress AND I am still trying to figure out what authenticity truly is. I have wanted for some time to start a podcast about exactly this and this is the introduction of that.
I am starting a podcast in which I will be talking to people about what authenticity means to them, how they live authentically or if they are still trying to. My desire of the podcast is that it may help those that are struggling to find themselves. To understand what it means to them specifically and how living that way can help them find an essence of freedom. I am going to leave the self-esteem and self confidence discussion to my dear friend Christina and her podcast. This is going to be about finding your true self and living unapologetically.
Details about where to find the podcast will come out soon, stay tuned into my Facebook and Instagram.