"Create a life that feels good on the inside. Not a life that looks good on the outside." ~ annonymous
I haven't felt this myself in quite some time. In this post, I will share precisely why that is.
First, do you ever read a book that you believe was written specifically for you, for a specific time?
I recently read Haily Rodgers's See Me, a book on becoming your most authentic self, and truly, without trying to be dramatic, it changed me immensely. I wasn't previously aware that I had been forcing myself into the ideal version of myself, dressing, talking, creating, and well, being someone I wasn't. It felt like the true version of myself was trapped behind a barrier composed of everything I wanted to be. It wasn't until this book, that struck me to the core so deeply, that I realized I had been living, in theory, a lie.
At the same time, while I was exploring my authentic self, I was finalizing Hummingbird Tales, my creative nonfiction and short story collection. I realized that I was ultimately one piece short of my story goal, and decided to write one on the topic of authenticity titled "Versions of Myself". Through this piece, as with most of my pieces, I was able to heal, understand myself, and eventually realize just how many versions of myself there were, and yet, while none of them are perfectly correct, because we are always changing through life and morphing depending on the situation we are in (this is inevitable), only one version really felt "right" and called to me above all others. It was the version of myself that I kept buried away most of the time.
So, I began to lean into that version.
This version was not cheery nor bubbly nor overly positive, as I had been all my life, but was simply, kind, empathic, and emotionally available. This version was creative, ambitious, intelligent, sensitive, yet affirmative and strong-willed. I decided to cloak these adjectives around me, practicing assertiveness, limiting how often I smiled, such as avoiding smiling during uncomfortable conversations or when someone else felt sad due to my desperate need to make those around me happy, and allowing myself to be "quirky" or "free-willed" as I had been in high school before I cared about what others really thought of me. I began embracing all of the characteristics that ultimately, felt right.
Since doing this, I can clearly say that I am an entirely different person. Or at least, my seemingly "true" self has been uncovered.
Now, I have found my calling in writing, story ideas appearing with more ease, and might I say, my fashion choices have never felt more "me" nor looked so cute! I've been able to make genuine connections from a place of love rather than a place of fear; I no longer (or at least, try to) make friends for the sake of not being alone/seeking validation as well as remaining in toxic relationships in order to not be left behind. (Read my post: When I found worth; fellow people-pleasers for more on this topic.) In other words, my life has never felt more... real, if that makes sense.
Rather than living life how I think Brittney should live it, I'm just living it.
Therefore, because I am now absolutely obsessed with the idea of being authentic and staying true to ourselves, and because this knowledge has helped me so tremendously, I felt inclined to share all that I've done to fully embrace the "right" version of myself. Below are three things I've implemented that may also help you in discovering your most authentic self.
1. Avoid comparison (& remember: social media isn't real)
Okay, I'll admit it; I'm not perfect at this, yet I have gotten better. Just the other night, I was comparing myself to the young and quite aesthetic author Savannah Brown, wondering why I didn't write as well as her, have as big of a following, nor have a similar, cute aesthetic. Admittedly, I spent hours on this, and alongside the comparison game? I was drinking pinot grigio. A terrible combination.
It wasn't until the next day, admiring my published works, that I realized others probably compare themselves to me in the exact same ways. Heck, I've published three works at twenty-one, of course, they do--I get crap about it all of the time, actually. And it struck me then; everyone is always going to be envious of you, just as we find ourselves envious of others, despite the fact that everyone is their own, unique person, on their own special journeys.
We are all so, so different, and because of that, we are all so, so wonderful. Our differences, and all of the experiences we bring to the table, in theory, should be enough.
So, how is the comparison game helping? Shouldn't we be looking up to others, and feeling inspired by them, rather than feeling sick with envy? Why make ourselves feel miserable because we're not some other person, who is on a vastly different path, living a completely different life?
Also, if like me, you were comparing via social media, remember that social media isn't real. Even I, a relatively open person, post a majority of the highlights, leaving out the messy/boring fragments of my life, or as I like to call them, the in-betweens. My life isn't perfect, and I assume neither is Brown's, and yet social media skews our reality.
Rather than compare yourself to others, remember that you, too, have your own accomplishments, your own life, and are your own, unique person. Celebrate this! Rather than wish to be someone else, feel happy that you were born as you.
Because did you know--there's no one else like you in the world?
Pretty cool, huh?
2. Explore new hobbies and activities without judgment
One of my favorite things to do is accompany myself in the calm ambiance of my bedroom with a glass of wine (Can you tell that I'm a wine junkie?), a good book, or an open Google Document, The Smiths, or classical music humming softly from my speakers, and some yummy cheese. Is this depressing? Maybe to some, but to me, I feel most at peace. Settling into a comfortable solitude and escaping into creative worlds and writings--this is my medicine.
I've also dabbled in candle-making, puzzles, baking, swimming (again), and have begun trekking into my new dystopian novel, a genre I love but is entirely out of my comfort zone. Oh, and we cannot forget about my new, slightly brave fashion choices. Delving into all of these new hobbies and activities without judgment has helped me discover what sparks the most joy and peace in me, as well as when I feel most myself.
Instead of judging my hobbies, telling myself that I should be learning to play chess, or I should be wearing what's stylish and trendy, or I should get into television and stop reading so many books so that I can actually talk to people about television shows because none of the people in my life really read, or thinking it was sad to spend a quiet, Saturday night alone, I allowed myself to lean into all of the things I enjoyed, which not only made me feel connected to myself and okay with solitude, but it gave me a voice.
Yes, I have my own opinions and a mind of my own!
3. Trust your gut, and speak your mind
As I've been carefully emerging out of my people-pleasing tendencies, I've found so much power in simply, speaking my mind, and trusting my gut and emotions. If I don't want to go somewhere that day, I say so. If I don't appreciate how someone talks to me, I tell them, setting that boundary. If I have an opinion on something that swells within me so profusely, and I want to write about it, but I'm worried about offending or shocking others, I put myself first and allow myself to explore my thoughts for the sake of possibly connecting with someone else who agrees, or needs to hear my words. (Yes, I used to agree with people for the sole purpose of receiving their approval, even when I strongly disagreed. This, as you can imagine, created rocky friendships.)
This has been one of the most challenging things to do, speaking my mind and trusting myself, putting me first, but it has helped me opened my eyes immensely. The number of connections I had that were founded on my need for approval or were centered on simple conversation because I was too afraid to open up and go deeper, was mind-blowing. I've sense deepened many relationships as well as attracted like-minded people into my life.
Furthermore, apparently, when you speak your mind and set boundaries, people appreciate you more!? But think about it: Would you rather be friends with someone who agrees with everything you say, or else well-rounded, knowledgeable on certain topics, and passionate about their hobbies, and fearlessly so? People have enjoyed that I have become unapologetically me, internally edgy, opinionated, introspective and creative, and a lover of all things floral, all blended into one.
Remember: you cannot fully love others unless you fully love yourself. And you cannot fully love yourself if you're unsure of who yourself means.
I still have plenty of ways to go, but I truly feel that, at long last, I know who I am. And I hope that, after reading these tips, implementing them into your own life, you'll feel more like you, too.
I hope you have a lovely rest of your day, and a wonderful weekend. Hopefully, regular posting will continue soon.