Suggest that someone step into the figurative (or literal) limelight, and there's a good chance you'll be met with... resistance. We have a tendency to hold our truest and rawest selves back for only a select few -- if any -- people in our lives. Through a number of different ways, we create masks, walls, and defenses that hide who we really are; instead, we present ourselves to the world in a carefully crafted manner so as not to invite criticism, judgment, and ridicule. But are those the only outcomes?
Personally, I've dealt with this a great deal. I felt it necessary to present the nicest, the most courteous, the most helpful version of myself to the world, because I honestly didn't believe anyone would like me for who I truly am. I'm a sweet, kind, quirky, nerdy, helpful person who is also socially awkward, a bit odd, emotionally sensitive, and occasionally talks too much. I've never faked who I was, or portrayed a radically different version of myself; rather, I cherry-picked my "best" qualities, and over-exemplified them in order to make sure people liked me. And I'm certainly not alone in all of this.
The fear of not being accepted is so strongly prevalent within our culture, that it has put something as simple as public speaking in the top five human fears list. That same fear keeps us from revealing our true nature to the world, because the world may not like us back. We protect our psyche by diluting our truth, and instead present the "prim and proper" version of ourselves to the world; the one we're pretty confident will be accepted and welcomed. This might allow us to avoid potential pain, but good grief is it ever exhausting!
By no means am I suggesting that all of you are wandering around presenting fake versions of yourselves for all the rest of us to see. Rather, I'm confidently stating that the majority of us pick-and-choose how much of our truth we reveal to the world. That logic is all well-and-good when we play the "What if?" game, and we're 100% assured that criticism, judgment, and ridicule will be the result of living as our truest selves. I mean -- who would want to absolutely invite those into their lives? The thing about "What if?", though, is that we seldom consider the positive side of things. "What if?", when you live your truth, you're met with acceptance, love, and appreciation?
The biggest thing to consider in all of this, too, is that we actually can't make anyone feel anything. I can't make you happy, mad, sad, elated, or angry -- only you can. We choose how we respond to any given action or situation, and to think we can evoke a specific emotion or reaction is simply guesswork. While we're all playing this big guessing game of what others think, we're often stifling our true selves under layer upon layer of protective coating. Too many layers on there, and we actually forget who we are in the first place!
It's scary to speak in front of a group of people. It's scary to tell someone you love them. It's scary to be 100% you in a society that seemingly seeks to tear down rather than empower. However, the freedom to live your truth and the weight shed by letting down that defensive armor bring such possibility to the world. Instead of being who you think everyone believes you should be, show them your beautiful, unique, and amazing self. The world only has one you, so do it a favour and let yourself be seen!
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