“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
― Oscar Wilde
When I was young and people used the word “strong” I would always think of armor, or something that had a lot of strength. Something that was solid, tough or even powerful, maybe. But as time has passed and experiences have taught me, that thought has actually proven to be false. Now, when I think of the word “strong” I picture a human who’s open and vulnerable, completely transparent and unapologetically honest. It’s odd how life and experiences change us. If we’re not open and true to ourselves we will inevitably chase our own tail in the dark with a forever dizziness. I headache that I can assure you is not pleasant.
I have long thought about the subject of the “real you.” Personally, I was confronted with the notion of not being true and honest with myself (and others) a couple years ago. I only got to that place because I knew I was horribly wrong in something I was doing. It’s a personal issue and I’m not quite ready to talk about that publicly yet. But I am most certainly ready to talk about what I learned/learning from it.
First and foremost, how does one know or come to the realization that you’re living a life of inauthenticity and what does that even mean? Well, honestly I can only speak for myself and my experiences. Looking back, the process started really slow. Actually in my case I wasn’t aware the process even began. I slowly morphed into someone i’m not. It’s frightening to think we could become something so distant from who we are without acknowledging its in progress.
I always wanted to please people and for the most part still do. But, when I was younger I would go unto great, great lengths to do this. I would stretch myself thin, I would go way above and beyond for anyone. To a stranger or someone judging from the outside, I assume that sounds fine. I’m sure it sounds like I was a nice person. But just like any other internal issue, when you just let something go and go, it spirals and spirals to the point of beyond recognition. That’s what I was turning into: beyond recognition.
Another element working against me was my parents were divorced. And by any means, if you are reading this and have divorced parents, in no way is that a death sentence, quite the opposite actually. But for me, it was not trivial. I learned to play the system. To play both sides. To again, agree with everyone. I learned to deceive, plot and scheme. But all of this was happening under the surface, you see. I didn’t have a daily planner of deception. But by the end of a period of time, I made a collection of bad habits.
The last thing that I think really hurt myself was making good amounts of money from age 16 – 22. It was legal. Most people by any accounts would say I was very successful and had a bright future (financially). Money is an interesting thing. Being young with so much of it made me turn my head to things. It made me not come face to face with bigger personal issues that were pending. I had the luxurious option to just throw money at issues to make them “go away.” And if I didn’t do that, I would just self define myself as someone better than others because of my financial status, furthering my deception of the real me. I’m not saying money is bad, but letting it define you certainly is unhealthy. I was burying myself with a shovel full of lies, images and things.
Nearly all of the resulting products of living a false life is lying. Or at least in my case it was. Wanting to please people really weighed much on my mind. A really easy way to do this was just lie. Tell people what they wanted to hear. It was simple, it didn’t hurt me (seemingly) and all was happy.
The problem that I started to encounter was not only was that turning me into a different person of no defined values, more importantly it made me think I wasn’t good enough. If I always needed to just say what people wanted to hear, subconsciously I was thinking, the truth wasn’t good enough and likewise, I wasn’t good enough.
Thinking you are not good enough is a really dangerous feeling if harbored uncontrollably and in my case, unknowingly. I promise, you will one day wake up in a world of fake that you created, maybe not on purpose and it will most certainly reach not only to you, but unfortunately to your loved ones as well.
It effects you:
How can it not effect you? You’re publishing a magazine that is supposed to be you but has an unknown, unaware writer, but you still want everyone to think its you. All of your wants and desires, your image you want to be perceived as; all lies. That’s an awful feeling. Trust me. I know from experience. And the deeper you go into the whirlwind of anonymity, the harder it is to claw your back.
It effects them:
In the beginning of our marriage, my wife often spoke of the 2 me’s. She mentioned how sometimes I’m here, and sometimes I’m not. All of course being physically present. She talks about when we first got married and all I did was “fit” her in my life. I made no sacrifices, no changes and expected her to do much of the heavy lifting. All of this while I was “perceiving everything was great.” You see, my lying and self deception even reached to my most loved people without me even knowing. That alone, was paramount enough for me to face this head on.
OK, so why the idea to write this. Im happy to report I am slowly on my way out of this but continue to grow and learn. I am nowhere near “fixed” but I’m present for the daily fight and that alone is a huge step for me. But talking to someone very close to my life recently made me realize that others suffer from the same condition as I was prisoner to. So, somewhere in my head I felt if I read something like this along the way, maybe that would have helped? I’m not sure? But this blog was established to be self therapeutic, so if nobody receives an inch of help from this, thats fine also. Because telling the truth never became easier for me, but the freedom the truth gives is an unwavering, liberating emotion that I continue to strive for.
How it gets better:
What I learned and am learning everyday is being honest starts with yourself. It’s OK to not be perfect. Looks or actions. Perfection is boring. Expectations (yours or others) are damaging, false pretenses that cause good, genuine people serious hurt and anxiety. Come to terms with whatever you are. That’s OK. However you look, be content. Your flaws don’t define you. Be accepting of them and know it’s OK.
Personally, I think Wreck it Ralph has the right idea:
From what I’ve experienced, there is little to be gained in living a life of inauthenticity. Not only is it unfair to those around us, it is also unfair to you. Those who live honestly, recognizing and admitting their weaknesses and faults inspire others to do the same. And in the end, all that is gained is true and honest and strangely, surprisingly satisfying.
If you consider yourself molded by your surroundings, or a feel a huge weight of anxiety to “fit in.” Please take a step back and breathe. I’ve been there and sometimes, I’m still there. But you can do this, just like I can do this. Because being honest with yourself and others is being who God created you as, and it took a very long time for me realize that’s OK. Actually its better than OK, it’s perfectly fine.