One of the toughest things you can do these days is “be yourself” in a world that wants you to be so many different things, all at the same time.
You hear, “Be sexy. Vulnerable. Good. Young. Successful. A survivor. Be dutiful. Creative. Loyal. Nice. A superwoman. Thin. Quiet. Rich. Be fashionable. Assertive. A homemaker. A businesswoman. Savvy. Connected. Be soft. Be strong.”
You consume so many messages from others—from society, your community, your families—that tell you what is acceptable, desirable, or achievable that you can’t hear the siren song within you.
You can’t hear siren song that screams with craving, melodious with individual choice and laced with a booty-shaking beat.
That song gets quieted.
Instead, you wake up every morning with a heavy heart as you prepare do to battle with another day.
You repeat the unspoken mantra of successful women, “Do it all and make it look easy. Do it all and make it look easy. Do it all and make it look easy.”
You try to be all things to all people. To succeed. To measure up. To achieve.
Not even on your radar.
Until one day it is.
Without warning, that siren song of individuality plays full blast and nothing you do lowers the volume. You start hearing the desires of your inner self. You start questioning the snide remarks of your inner critic who has been cackling with glee all these years of smallness and conformity. You start ignoring the expectations of others.
External measures of success, and maps for the expected path, and the need to make others happy at your own expense start slowly start fading away.
It’s absurdly uncomfortable to start becoming yourself, but you’ll arrive at the day when it’s the only choice you have.
When you start standing up for yourself and your life, you’ll get huge amounts of resistance from others. It’s often disguised as thinly veiled friendly advice or assumptive motherly concern or backhanded compliments.
“A freelance writer? How amazing would that be? I don’t know anyone who has pulled that off!”
“Moving to Brazil? How brave of you! Isn’t that dangerous?”
“Oh gosh, I remember when I wanted to get a divorce. I finally realized that it just wasn’t worth putting the kids through that.”
You often start the unraveling of your staid social shell in small and symbolic gestures.
You might start by dying your hair, getting a tattoo, or starting a blog to write with your real voice. You might progress to traveling on your own, quitting your job, breaking up with someone who “seemed perfect”, or embarking on a dream that seems crazy to everyone else.
You will end up learning how to love yourself, truly and deeply and through the messy, dark, and uncomfortable moments.
All of this “being yourself” may feel like a fight for your life – for the ability to follow your heart in a society that doesn’t celebrate those who stray off the path.
But let me tell you this, darling.
In being yourself, you’re allowing yourself the ultimate honor.
In finally tuning into your siren song, you’re earning mad karmic points as the Universe conspires to help you live your dreams.
I see you, Self, and I think your quirks, your ideas, your ways of engaging the world are beautiful. I’m not going to shove it down or shut you up any longer. I’m going to let you bubble to the surface in all your madness and glory.
I’m going to let you dye your hair purple, or go to space camp, or live in the fire tower. I’m going to let you sell all your stuff so you can afford the tiny loft in East Village, or go back to school to get your MFA, or travel through Southeast Asia, or start that business. I’m going to let you home school your kids or take a lover or stand up to the injustice you’ve been enduring.
I trust your intuition about people and opportunities.
I want you to take giant leaps of faith and lean on others by asking for help. I will allow you to ignore the haters, to let the negative comments ping off your back because you understand that you can’t please everyone, but that pleasing yourself is most important.
You, Self, are strong enough to do all of this. You do not have to be everything to everyone all at the same time. You just have to be you.
Your strength is measured not in fighting or conflict or winning, but in remaining true to that inner voice and those crazy dreams.
Your strength can be measured by putting the work in everyday, by picking your own heart off the floor, by running your own race.
Being yourself and allowing others the same grace is your measure of strength.
You do not need to “do it all and make it look easy”.
You do need to be you.
Flex those muscles. Listen deeply. Let go of external expectations– the “shoulds”, the “have tos” and the “rules”. Play your gorgeous siren song on repeat, as you tackle showing up as yourself day in and day out.
Let it become easy. Trust in your strength.
I will do the same, sista’.