Today’s internet gives us access to information from all sorts of places. From the personal blog page (like mine) to the more professional websites providing advice to individuals everywhere about topics such as; being your true self. When I was younger I don’t recall hearing about the topic of being your true self very often, if at all. It was perhaps the biggest issue that I struggled with from a very young age.
OK so not everyone is struggling to be themselves… There are those that have no second thoughts about living life to the full and enjoying who they are. These people have less holding them back as they are not concerned of what other people think. They are focused on their goals and continue pushing through with or without resistance. It would be safe to say they are comfortable with who they are so people’s opinions don’t really concern them so much.
Unlike these types of people who can keep going with or without resistance since I was younger I always cared about what people thought of me. The minute someone let me know they didn’t like me my reaction was to hide similar to a turtle going back into its shell. The idea of someone ‘not liking’ me sent me deeper into my thought life. My thoughts were consumed with trying to understand what made me unlikeable! I often wondered how anyone could say they didn’t like me when they didn’t even really know me.
How often do we make judgments about someone based on their appearance or personality and assume what that person is like? We are all guilty of not taking the time to get to know people before we all too quickly judge them as not worth knowing. It would be better to give people an opportunity to show who they are, as not everyone can be themselves in an instant. For some people it takes time to warm up to others before they feel safe and uncomfortable to be truly themselves.
Taking time to warm up to someone was how I eventually expressed more of my true self to people. I hid behind my insecurities and vulnerabilities. I needed to know that I was safe to be myself before I could allow others to see me for who I was. Naturally my personality is more on the introverted side, although some people have told me they believe I am actually an extrovert in hiding.
Either way I do take my time to show people the real me, the real me that expresses herself with laughter on many occasions. My words may be few in conversation yet I do take thought into what I say and like it to mean something. I’m a deep thinker and I feel everything. I’m often found analysing people and wondering what it is that makes them tick. I watch their moods and consider whether something may be going on that is troubling them?
My nature is sensitive, caring and compassionate. It bothers me to see people upset or hurt. This is the reason why I took up studying psychology in the first place. My heart is to help and support others in whichever way I can. Usually I simply listen. I don’t always have much to say. I listen and do my best to hear what people are saying. I put myself in their shoes to try and understand what life is like according to their experiences.
Being such a sensitive and emotionally in tune person wasn’t always something that I embraced. There have been many occasions in which I had wished I were less sensitive & louder. Why louder you may ask? Throughout so much of my childhood and adulthood I was often described as the quiet one!!! When I was working in a homewares store several years ago they had an end of year Christmas Party. All of the employees got a small gift that described the type of person they were seen as. Naturally in theme of being thought of as ‘quiet’ I got a tiny little mouse which was to sit on the dashboard of my car. I was handed the gift in amusement by the boss stating “this is for you Anu, you’re always so quiet, so we thought we’d get you this tiny mouse”.
AHHH once again, quiet Anu!!!!
To try and get rid of that identity was never going to happen. In much the same way as actors who have started their careers when young try to convince their audience years later that they have grown up.
The downside to my personality is that I don’t find it easy to confront people when needed. Although this part of me has grown over the years. I can all too easily let very important issues slide. While I know the issues are there and they bother me for fear of confrontation I can turn a blind eye for far too long. This obviously worked against me in my failed marriage. Had I been able to stand my ground at the very beginning of my marriage perhaps things might have been different?
It is through all of my painful mistakes or failures that I have learnt more about embracing myself for who I am. No longer does it bother me so much that I am sensitive or compassionate. I love being sensitive and compassionate. It allows me to be there for people in so many different circumstances. I don’t just listen, I hear!
Having been in a very difficult marriage has taught me to stand up for myself. I have learnt that I do have a say and my thoughts are important. If a partner isn’t going to value me for me then why keep painfully hanging around hoping for change when change never happens.
Please hear me out!
I’m not talking about the normal marriage issues relationships have, I’m talking about the damaging unhealthy patterns, the ones that involve psychological or emotional abuse, or for some sadly physical abuse.
As we start out in life we have strengths and weaknesses within us that make us who we are. Throughout life these strengths and weaknesses become sharpened. We learn from our experiences and become better at putting these parts of us to good use. It is almost as if life starts to balance us out as we get older.
To be our true selves I don’t think give us a licence to run over people. I don’t think it means we do whatever we want, whenever we want it. That speaks of selfishness. Living life to please oneself alone is unsatisfying. In much the same way I don’t think it gives us the freedom to tell people what we think whenever we get the urge. Everything needs to be done in the right way with the right heart.
If in embracing your true self involves disrespecting people or treating others as ‘nothing’ then I would say that there is something wrong which needs to be looked into.
If we are genuinely embracing who we are,
we automatically embrace others respectably.