I spent most of my childhood and young adult years hiding who I was, desperately trying to fit in and not be “different.”
I always felt I was different. Not in a bad way, but different enough because of my unique gifts that I felt somewhat alone and isolated. I have a vivid memory from kindergarten where I felt so overwhelmingly different from my classmates that I went into the closet and cried. The teacher tried everything she could do to get me to come out, but I refused. I told myself at that point that I would try to look and act and be as my classmates.
For the most part, it worked. I did my best to blend in, to bury my uniqueness and to not do anything that would set me apart from other people. Of course, I wasn’t 100% successful. Bits of the “real me” would come out from time to time – after all, it is impossible to truly hide who you are. I had a core group of friends that I was comfortable showing more of who I really was. And there were those random people who for some reason, surprisingly, were able to see right through the facade I had built to see me at my core.
When I was an adult, I went away to a soul quest retreat. There were about 15-20 of us there. I was the youngest. All but one were women. I was trying to work through one of the biggest losses of my life, and was doing my usual cover up routine to fit in. I was cautiously private with everyone. Halfway through the retreat, one of the women in my group lashed out at me at lunch one day. I burst into tears and ran out.
I went to my sacred space and connected with nature and the spirit world. As I began to get my emotions under control, Fawn showed up and shared another message with me – that of accepting who I was in my entirety. I followed her through the forest and sat in a beautifully sunny field with wild flowers while she patiently waited under a large tree in the middle for me to fully understand the message.
As soon as I realized her message, something within me began to crack. I could feel parts of me beginning to shine out. There was still a protective “shell” around me, but more of the real me was able to come out. I reveled in the feeling of just being me, relaxed fully in the field, and wove a garland of flowers for my hair.
I walked back to the retreat center, wearing my flower crown and feeling as if I were a different person. My group was meeting in a cabin, but stopped their conversation when I walked in. I took a deep breath and then shared the loss that I had recently experienced as well as my life-long quest to cover up who I was and try to blend in.
The response from my group was immediate: they formed a circle around me and gave me a big hug. The woman who had lashed out at me apologized to me and became my biggest cheerleader for the rest of the retreat. And then they shared with me what they saw special about me. They gently scolded me for trying to blend in and encouraged me to be true to who I was, since the real me had so much to offer to the world.
I began to see how by being true to myself I could help others. Several women thanked me at the end of the retreat for giving them the gift of greater insight about themselves through my opening up.
Since then, I’ve learned that it is when I am truly authentic that I am able to help others the most. When I am authentic, I can tap into my inner wisdom and the wisdom and love of the Universe and share that with the world. Which, when I think about it, is an amazing thing to share!
Each one of us has unique gifts that are meant to be shared with the world. What prevents you from sharing yours? What steps can you take today to fully accept your authentic self and begin letting the rest of the world see the wonderful, unique being that you are?
Thank you sooo much for this. I teeter between fitting in, an authenticity. Much easier now, at my age, but gosh, a struggle as a kid.
I hear you! Authenticity is tough as a kid – so much pressure to conform.