It feels funny like an itchy sweater, or too-tight shoes, or brushing your hair in the wrong direction. You try to pinpoint why things don’t feel quite right. And then one day you realize, Ugh, I hate this flippin’ sweater!
It’s like that when you realize you’re not being true to yourself. Not living authentically results in a disconnect between the person we want to be and the person we suddenly realize we are. It’s uncomfortable, disorienting; it makes us want to rip that sweater right off.
It’s rumored that Charlie Chaplin once came in third place in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest. Ha! Seriously, what would it be like knowing that two other people were deemed better at being you than you?
There have been a handful of times in my life when I looked around and realized that I was not doing a stellar job at being me. I wasn’t dressing like me or acting like me. I wasn’t dating the kind of person I would date. Like in that Talking Heads song, “This is not my beautiful house…This is not my beautiful wife.”
One time in particular, I lost myself while teaching elementary school. I should state upfront that I LOVED teaching. It really suited me for that period of time. But in the first year I morphed into what I imagined a successful teacher to be – hair slicked into a bun and glasses, definitely glasses. (Some people can rock this look. In fact, I dig the Madame Librarian look. It just wasn’t me.) I spent most weekends preparing for the upcoming work week, while eating frozen meals. I didn’t exercise AT ALL. It was no bueno.
And then one day I asked myself, “Am I the kind of person who lives like this?” The answer came from deep in my gut – a resounding NO. It was like waking up. Point by point, I started making changes. I let my hair do its thing. I started hiking and practicing yoga regularly. I thought about my meals with more intention and started shopping at the local farmer’s market. Life got better. I enjoyed life. I had traded a life that I loved for a job that I loved. The idea that I could have both was revolutionary.
I began asking myself that question all the time. I used it on the little things, Am I the kind of person who wears red lipstick? I used it on the big things, Am I the kind of person who will quit a stable job with benefits to go to grad school in the pursuit of a dream?
Yes. And yes.
Every time I asked myself this question, I got a little closer to the real me, the me I had buried in a job. My answers eventually led me to some really big shifts. And my life is better for it.
You can ask yourself this question at any time. Am I the kind of person who _________ ? (fill in the blank). I believe it always leads you to your true self. You can ask it on a long walk as you ponder career options, Am I the kind of person who can start my own business? You can ask it while you’re out shopping, Am I the kind of person who can rock a miniskirt? You can ask it in a split second, Am I the kind of person who leans out of the window and screams at fellow drivers? (Boy, I hope not!)
The beauty of this question is that when you ask it, you make a decision about who you want to be. When you ask yourself often, you won’t likely find yourself falling into situations or miniskirts that just don’t feel like you. You can say to yourself, Well, I’ve never been the kind of person to wear red lipstick. But I want to be. So, from now on, I am! It gives you the confidence to take risks because it gives you ownership over your decisions. Even if it’s something you’ve never done before, this question gives you the power to rock it.
Looking back, I think I was a pretty good teacher. But it had nothing to do with my lifestyle choices. In fact, I bet I could’ve been even better if I had lived more authentically. The thing is, when we’re super tuned in, we know right away when something isn’t right. We slip that sweater on and rip it right back off. Nope, this is not for me! Continuously making decisions that are not aligned with your authentic self begins to numb you to the itchy feeling. But you can get your awareness back, it just takes practice, until one day it feels like life fits you perfectly, same as it ever was.
*Photo by Casey Gates
Follow WritingInBold.com on Bloglovin’
Other Things to Read