Friday, December 28, 2018

Friendly Reminder: Stay True to Yourself

Some of you guys got this on lockdown and I applaud you because I feel like staying true to yourself is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. If you're one of those people who already know how to stay true to themselves, then you can stop reading (although I won't complain if you continue to do so) because this reminder is really for the people out there who aren't listening to themselves and doing things that feel right to them.

Throughout my whole life, I've lived with the narrative that my true self was not good enough. I needed to be a whole other person to be considered enough. I believed that I should have been more outgoing, fun, laidback, a good conversationalist, and charismatic because, in my head, I thought that I was too boring, too quiet, and too awkward.

I thought I had to be what I thought society wanted me to be and, so, I would mold myself into someone that I felt like I had to be but also talking down and comparing myself to other people. I would really put myself down, saying things like, "You need to be more like _____ that's why people like her more. It's because she's like that and you're not."

It wasn't until recently where I was aware of my behavioral and thought patterns.

One situation where I realized that's where my head was at was when I really wanted to change someone's perception of me. My whole thought process was, "There's something wrong with me. Maybe if I'm more like this they'll like me more." But, it wasn't working. This went on repeatedly for months. It really affected my self-esteem and I was at a low.

Another situation where I felt like I was changing myself for the sake of my relationship. Even if my significant other said, "I like you just the way you are," I would always feel the need to modify myself to be an "ideal" girlfriend. I would try to withhold things inside even if it bothered me because, in my head, the ideal girlfriend is always agreeable. Oh, I'm too sensitive, I gotta be less sensitive. Oh, I'm too emotional, I have to be less emotional. I would really feel like how I was wasn't enough. So, it was a constant internal battle within me.

After dealing with those situations simultaneously, I felt really small. I did a lot of soul-searching, reading, and, let's be real, crying to finally say, "Fuck it! I'm just gonna be myself and see what happens." I also realized how bad a people pleaser I am. Since then I started doing things that energized me and listening to myself, I feel a lot less pressure and lighter. I still have to work hard to break these negative thought patterns. Despite it being a lot of work, it's worth it because I feel a lot more energized and a little more free.

Why do we feel like we need to be someone else?

Because being yourself is a scary thing. If you're showing your true self out in the world, you're letting people judge your actual self and instead of your mask. You're letting yourself be vulnerable to judgment. We use our masks as a defensive mechanism. That's why I think being yourself is one of the bravest things you can do.

The problem with that is you won't learn how to be the person that you're supposed to be. You won't create a sense of peace within yourself. And, being yourself and staying true to yourself is the only way to curate self-love and self-acceptance.

You won't be attracting the people that are meant for you. You know, the people who will actually accept you for who you are and make you feel good about the person that you are. (Not that other people's opinions matter, but it is a good self-esteem booster. Just don't rely on it). Not to mention, it's completely exhausting to pretend someone you're not.

What does it mean to be yourself?

For me, it's doing things that are natural and/or right for you and not do what you think someone else wants you to do. You'll feel it in your gut if you're doing something that's unnatural and if you know in your heart you're doing it because someone else wants you to do it.

How do can you achieve this? 

What helps a lot as I'm still learning how to stay to myself is remembering: The only opinion that matters is yours when it comes to you because if you're not at peace with who you are then, you'll be at peace no matter anyone else's opinion of you. 

I also have to remind myself how much I would minimize myself and how small I felt. And, if you've ever been in that spot, it really sucks. For me, living in that space and mindset is more scary to me than living an unfamiliar space of being myself.

Also, be kind and patient with yourself. You're probably unlearning years and years of a negative habit. You can't really expect to have it all down within a week or a month. This will take lots of mindset changing to get where you want to be. It's hard at first, but the more that you practice being yourself, the easier it gets.

Another good resource is How to Be Yourself by Dr. Ellen Hendriksen. The book is written for people who have social anxiety, but I feel like her techniques can work and her words can speak to basically anyone who has anxiety or anyone who has the tendency to live on the side of fear.

If you found this post helpful, share it with someone who needs this little reminder through Facebook, Twitter, or on Pinterest! Have any comments? Share them down below!

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