Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else. ~ Judy Garland
In January, I often write a post about my goals and intentions for the coming year – I’m a long-time maker of resolutions and 5-year plans. This year I found myself balking, and it’s not because I don’t have plans and hopes. It’s because I’m over the idea that I need to make myself better or different in order to be okay. I’m done trying to make myself something that I’m not.
This year my only intention is to be as radically authentic as possible.
Not that that’s easy either! However great the relief that comes with not trying to change myself, being truly authentic is a muscle that takes time to develop. It’s easier with the traveling lifestyle I’m currently living: since no one knows me, no one has any investment in my showing up a certain way. But even given that, it’s surprisingly difficult to resist the temptation to “fit in.”
For instance, my instincts lean far more to the reclusive than the social. That’s no problem when I’m staying someplace very independent, but when I recently stayed for a week in a BnB with hosts and other guests sharing the space, I had to resist the urge to invent things to do in order to look busier and hipper. They were perfect strangers – why did I care so much?
In reality, I was projecting my own judgments onto them. It’s my own ego that accuses me of being boring and weird, and that’s where I need to spend my efforts this year, in calling out the subtle fears that tell me I’m somehow not okay being who I truly am. (Most likely those other people spared not one tiny thought about what I was doing in my room.)
Even when the social pressure is more overt, it’s my own anxiety that makes me susceptible to it. I met a woman close to my age and spent a day talking about traveling alone as single, middle-aged women. It was wonderful, but it took me two days afterward to feel good again about my decision to let my natural gray hair show.
For the other woman, looking “young” and finding a man was a major priority. My desire to be comfortable and confident in my own skin took a distinct hit, but it wasn’t because I particularly valued this woman’s opinion. It was because my ego took the opportunity to race down old rabbit holes of comparison and shame.
Other people aren’t nearly as influential as our own deep-seated doubts that we are worthy.
Being radically authentic requires constant awareness of the old programs the ego runs that tell us we aren’t good enough the way we are. If we can “out” them and view them clearly but compassionately when the urge to be less than authentic arises, we can make better decisions about what actually feels good and right for ourselves.
And that is my main intention for this year!
Join the family!