This is, perhaps, the most fundamental instruction on how to happily live our lives. And it also proved to be one of the biggest struggles of my life.
When I used to reflect on how to “just be myself,” I doubted that anyone would genuinely enjoy or appreciate who I was. I constantly feared that my true self wasn’t good enough, for myself or for others. This internal war I waged with my identity resulted in a premeditated version of me that I imagined others would want. This lifestyle model is not sustainable, and, eventually, I crashed.
Now, this crash came at an ideal time. When I realized I must raise a flag in surrender to my true self, I was attending the Bold Academy. This community encouraged me to “just be myself” and to not sacrifice my passions, joys, or quirks in exchange for the innocuous approval of others.
I can recall a time when, before I was able to accept myself, I was embarrassed to admit my love for Broadway music. So embarrassed, in fact, that a past boyfriend of over a year never knew that I loved it. I deleted all of the musicals from my iPod and computer in an effort to avoid revealing my true identity. I sacrificed a part of who I am so that the song “Hello Dolly” (Act 2, Scene 3) wouldn’t blare from my speakers unexpectedly.
Fast forward to today. Just a month ago, I put on an entire Broadway review for my roommate. As she skipped through dozens of songs on Pandora’s Broadway channel, I named each song, the musical it’s from, and joined in for the chorus. That authentic and honest joy I felt could never be replaced with Pink Floyd and Kanye, no matter how hard I may have tried. (And trust me, I tried.)
If your truth is stuck inside of you, don’t falsify it with values, activities, and personalities that aren’t aligned with your true essence. Anything else is simply a falsehood that will eventually fall apart, as our lies often do.
Embrace who you are. When we accept who we are and share it with others, we are able to find greater meaning and purpose in our lives.
Three Tools I Used (and still use) to “Just Be Myself.”
Sing Broadway Music. Sing It Loudly.
I think I’ve made it clear how much I love this musical genre. Ok, it doesn’t even have to be Broadway, and you don’t even have to sing. What I’m suggesting is to be proud of what you enjoy, whether its fire breathing, friends, doodling, viral videos about cats, yoga…you get the picture. And share your passions and activities with others. For my friends and family, this means they get to listen to me sing Broadway music. Lucky them!
Laugh. Every Day.
I believe that one of our personality’s best indicators of who we are is our sense of humor. We don’t all laugh at South Park (okay, guilty, I don’t laugh at South Park), but I find the funny in many other things. When we laugh, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and genuine in front of others. Think about it: when someone or something makes you laugh close to tears, don’t you feel like your most true self?
Learn to Jump Rope.
For the majority of my life, I couldn’t jump rope and would substitute the activity with jumping jacks or something to that effect. And yet, this summer, a wonderful trainer wouldn’t accept my substitutions and taught me to jump rope. I now have a new skill that I enjoy (and can do for over a minute. Yahoo!). My point: oftentimes we think we know exactly who we are and what we’re capable of, but it’s also important to allow space in our lives for new skills, passions, and people. Without challenge and learning, you may never discover more of “yourself.”
There is no one else in the world like you, so don’t waste your time manufacturing a safe or approved version of an unrecognizable person. Today is your day to “just be yourself.”
Do one thing today that makes you happy and alive and is aligned with your truest self. You’ll find that others will love you for it, and more importantly, you’ll love yourself.
Whitney Flight is a graduate of the first-ever Bold Academy and is a communications consultant and visual storyteller for entrepreneurs and business leaders. Above all, Whitney loves storytelling, community, food, a glass of wine, and being true to herself. Follow her on Twitter.