A little over a year ago, I was in a place where I felt a crushing sadness everyday. This sadness wasn’t because something terrible had happened or because things were not going well. In fact, the sadness was worse because things were good. I had a great job. I lived in sunny San Diego across from the beach. My family was there for me. I was healthy. There was absolutely NO reason to be feeling completely and utterly miserable. And yet each day, I was.
So I forced a smile. “Fake it until you make it” became my daily mantra. I forced myself to spend more time with friends. I joined a volleyball league to meet new people. I threw myself into work and taking on more projects. Masking how I really felt made me more miserable and in the moments when I was alone, the cracks widened. I spent too much time upset and even more time being upset that life was “good” and yet I felt this way.
After a few months, my family could tell something was wrong. I was crying on the phone with them every other day. I was trying to change jobs in the hopes that I would be able to do more and feel more satisfied and as I did so, the rejection came flooding back- which compounded how I feeling. I began getting skin rashes for no apparent reason. My body was trying to tell me something.
Finally it became too much. I quit my job. I moved. I let go of an important relationship to me and I spent quiet time at home with my family. Doing this, humbled me. It was as though I had hit the reset button.
I realized that I wasn’t speaking truly to myself. Every action I was taking was more about seeking external approval from others than about how it made me feel. I wasn’t chasing things that made me happy. I was dependent on joining other people in what they wanted and not creating my own joy. Daily, I began practicing to let go of who I thought I was supposed to be and embracing who I was.
I began to own who I was. I became authentic. I started saying, feeling, believing and doing what made me happy. I went ahead and started doing things I wanted to do without waiting for others to do it with me. In not trying to pretend to be who I thought I should be, I let the real me just be.
In being authentic, I didn’t spend wasted time worrying about how I was being perceived and I had a lot more time to notice all the great things going on around me. I found inspiring people began flooding into my life, because I was drawn to their own authenticity.
I found deeper conversations because I was curious in uncovering what others hid behind like I had before. My motivation was no longer driven by anything outside of myself. Time I spent with myself was no longer like talking with a stranger. I enjoyed the woman I had become- I enjoyed her company. Criticism no longer immobilized me, because it I didn’t take it so personally. I became overwhelmingly happy. What I was saying, what I was doing and what I was feeling were all in harmony. Great opportunities were no longer forced, but began flowing directly to me like the last few pieces to the puzzle.
When you become authentic, everything suddenly aligns and a huge sigh releases itself, as though your own self smiles and realizes “here I am.”
Be authentic. Do what makes you happy. Share your real self with others. Be-You-Tiful.