Just be yourself. How many times have others given you that advice as the key to success in any given situation? It sounds so simple. After all, what else could we be better at than being who we know best? Yet, I have found throughout my life that this is an area where people, including myself, sometimes struggle the most. Who is the “real me” they are referring to anyway? For many, who we truly are is a stranger. We have lived our entire lives trying to become someone we think others will approve of. By living a fabricated “ideal” self, we have lost sight of the true self we could express if we completely stopped, excuse my french, giving a crap.
Most of my life, I struggled with insecurity. Someone in my life once told me I wasn’t enough and I chose to believe them. I spent many years trying to gain back the confidence that I lost. Like many, I searched outside of myself for how to become a person others could love. I was constantly trying to think of ways to be more attractive, more funny, more “in style,” or more likable. I wanted to create a social mask that was so infallible that no one again could break my sense of self. Clearly I wasn’t enough and if I could just project that I was, others would surely love me. What I found was that I had become a person that was even more lost and insecure. Even worse, others could sense it. When you desperately seek the approval of others, you will never find it. I discovered that only when you begin to love yourself, despite the approval of others, will you find the love you search for. The love you seek can only ever come from you.
I discovered that only when you begin to love yourself, despite the approval of others, will you find the love you search for.
The social mask, or ego, is something that we all create in an effort to feel special and worthy of love. It is the image of our ideal self we want to project out into the world. It is how we want the world to see us. We constantly strive to make our mask more than it was before. We buy magazines that tell us how to have a better body, car, house, attitude, skin complexion, education, hairstyle, lawn, etc. There seems to be infinite resources available to us on how to better our every facet of material existence. For example, if I buy this $25,000 Coach Purse, it will show others that I am someone who is absolutely worthy. We decorate our masks to be a person we think is deserving of love. We want to impress others. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying nice things, what we often fail to realize is that we already are deserving of love; with or without our mask. There is nothing more we need to do to deserve the unconditional love our hearts desire. If I chose to sit in a box the rest of my life, I would be deserving of love. It might be socially awkward (which is just fear created by our egos), but my box-dwelling habits could never strip me of the innate love that is my birthright.
What this means is that there is absolutely nothing you can do, say, think or own that will ever make you more or less valuable than you already are. Just because I have a masters degree and an amazing townhouse rental from 1910 does not mean I am better than anyone else. There is a difference between attaining worldly things because you truly love them (being your true self) and thinking you are a better person because you have them (living behind a false mask). A Course in Miracles states that “Grandiosity is always a cover for despair.” When we believe our social masks make us better than someone else, we are only fooling ourselves; and thus blocking our inner light. The false mask does not serve us. This does not mean we should not strive for the things we want in this world. On the contrary, we are amazing, beautiful beings with unlimited potential. It does mean that what we own, think or say will never improve who we are. We will never be better than anyone else. So why go through the effort to impress others by being something different than what we already are?
Grandiosity is always a cover for despair.—A Course in Miracles
Just by being ourselves, we already are everything we need to be. Our fear just covered that up and made us think we had something to prove. It made us feel inadequate. Our fear was lying to us. In actuality, the only thing we ever needed to do was to let go of the fear. Surrender it to God. By doing so, we empower others to do the same. In the words of Marianne Williamson, “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated for our own fear, presence automatically liberates others.”
So, what does it mean to be your authentic, unique you? It means listening to your heart and what you believe to be your own truth despite the opinions of others. If everyone feels one way and you feel another, it means being true to your own feelings. It means not going out of your way for the sole purpose of seeking the approval of someone else. It means not choosing what you want to do with your life based on someone else’s happiness. It means finding your power. There is only one you. No one else on this entire planet has had the experiences and insights that can be gathered from living the life that only you have lived. All that makes you the person that you are is what will lead you to your life’s unique purpose. Why would you want to cover that up with a fabricated mask that only hides the magnificent beauty that is you being you? Embrace your authenticity. Do what brings your heart the most joy. Share what you have to give by being true to who you are. Every chance you get, take off your mask and let your true self shine.