There are a series of waking up moments in every one of our lives that we experience.
These moments look something more or less like the following: One night, we wake up with a terrifying realization, or maybe it happens in less dramatic fashion in the middle of a Tuesday. Sometimes we experience this moment after a near-death scare, or after losing a loved one.
The dialogue in our head at this waking up moment sounds something like "Oh shit! What am I doing with my life? What meaningful thing am I doing to make the world a better place? Why have I spent my life living according to other's expectations? Why have I tried to fit in with the crowd my whole life?"
We experience many of these moments, some as only minor jolts in the rear, but others that shock us out of complacency into immediate action.
And then, from living in this new reality, we start to rapidly alter our lives and proceed to change the world. Things that we had been deathly afraid of no longer scare us. We leap to new heights and achieve things that we never thought we could before. Books come out that were stuck trapped inside our minds. New careers rise up. Passion projects are begun that change our city, and even our nation.
So my question to you today is this:
Why not start living in that reality today?
Sometimes we need to remember death before we can start truly living. But we don't need to be on our death bed to recognize how beautifully short life is. We can make a difference starting NOW by being ourselves and doing what makes us come alive. Because that's what the world needs, oh so desperately. People that can be fully themselves, aren’t ashamed of it, and are willing do what they were born to do, the "deep work" of their lives.
Here are a few simple, yet powerful truths to help you live a life more true to yourself
1. Stop trying to be perfect
People don't connect with perfect. They connect with real. It's funny how long it took for me to get that. I would often preach about "being authentic" and "just be you". I wrote blog posts on why perfectionism is stupid.
But saying something is always easier than living it out, I'm finding. While I'm over here trying to make my life look perfect with pretty pictures and inspirational captions online, I'm telling people to stop trying to make their lives perfect.
Life's too short to not be real everywhere.
In a performance-based world full of comparison, it can be hard to know what parts of your life to show to others. There is a ridiculous standard of perfection that's been set, and no one can sustain perfect for long. Burn out is inevitable, because you can only put up a fake facade for so long before it wears you down. Being real is the best choice. It's easy to feel myself pulled towards "Will this make me look good?" versus "Is this really who I am? Is this my truth?" Differentiating between these two opposites is not easy though, and a constant battle.
But I'm committing to trying to tell the truth more often, to be real, to just be myself. I know I'll screw up plenty, but I'm willing to have grace for myself and to keep fighting for real, for true, for me.
2. Fall in love with weird and different
As the above quote so eloquently puts it, the parts that make you you, that make us different and unique are often weird, the parts we wish we didn't have. We don't like to show those off, because we're afraid of being made a fool, or not looking cool.
But the fact is that we're all unique. Sometimes unique means looking a little bit weird. And that's okay. Embrace the weird. Embrace the different.
We'll never be happy until we can be truly ourselves.
So stop fighting what makes you different. Don't try to change to please someone. If they don't like your weird, that's okay. Not everyone needs to agree on everything. There's no need to be offended. There's no need to please everyone. If you are being your true self, nothing else really matters. Because the world needs those who can be themselves and aren't one bit ashamed of that.
3. Do more of what makes you happy
I create because it's what I was born to do. I create because it's the truest expression of myself. I create to make the world a better place. I create simply because the world needs me.
And the world needs you, more than anything, to do what makes you happy, which is what makes you come alive. You need to find out what you were born to do, and then go do that thing. Sure, it will take some time, but today is the best day you'll ever have to start on it. Don't put it off.
4. Stick with integrity
This might sound old-fashioned or out-dated, but it's not. Integrity, per one Dictionary definition, means "the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished." In my words, it means being the same person at all times, in all circumstances. It means that I act the same when I'm alone, when I'm at work, at church, with my family, etc. I don't change who I am for the people I'm with. I always tell the truth, and allow my character to speak for myself.
Integrity means that I don't change who I am for the people I'm with.
Always tell the truth, and tell my truth. The real truth, the messy truth. Telling the truth is not the same as being vulnerable. You can choose who you wish to be vulnerable with in your life, but you should always tell the truth, no matter who you are speaking with.
A false self fools no one. They want to see you for who you really are. Show yourself. Really, show yourself. Let it be messy. Let it be raw. Let it be real. As long as it's me, I have not one thing to be afraid of. Not one thing.
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Practical Next Steps
Do a little evaluation of your life right now by asking yourself the question "Am I living undeniably true to who I am?" If you answered yes to that, congrats! But more than likely you, like the majority of us, has something to work on.
Take the first step today. Whatever that may be - checking who you follow online, changing how you communicate with your friends to be true to who you are, cutting out friends who are holding you back from all that you're becoming. The first step can take place today.
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