One of the things I admire about young children is their ability to be who they are. They use their imaginations to project how they see themselves, and each day, how they see themselves is a little different. One day, they may be an astronaut, the next day a cowboy. But as they get older, they are taught that they aren’t any of those things and that they never will be. The things that made life fun, creative and magical for them is stripped away and replaced with adult responsibilities like mortgage payments, a thankless job and getting their own kids to school on time.
Something happens to us when we grow up. We’re told we’re not good enough, or that we shouldn’t be a certain way. We’re taught to wear a mask and to fit in. We consume our lives with all of the things that are supposed to make us happy, and yet we’re sad. We miss those moments when we could live in a world of imagination, instead of the world of constant let downs.
But perhaps the saddest thing about growing up is the need to live up to somebody else’s expectations. This is usually first placed on us by our parents. They teach us how to behave, and tell us what we can and can’t do. They tell us to stop crying when we’re upset or to go to our rooms when we’re bugging them. We were taught that our dreams of becoming a writer, an actor, a space shuttle engineer, a cosmetologist were not real careers. So we either gave up that dream and settled for a job that we didn’t want, or worse…..we paid money and took out loans to go to college so we could get a career in a field we didn’t want to get into.
But it didn’t stop with our parents. Our teachers, friends, pastors, bosses all told us what we should be. Our teachers told us that we had to be smart. Our friends taught us that we had to be like them. Our pastor taught us that we had to be perfect and holy and that a spiteful God was watching our every move. And if he didn’t like our behavior, there would be hell to pay…..literally! And our bosses taught us that if we didn’t do things the way they liked, that they would fire us. Which means that we would no longer be able to work the job we didn’t want and pay for the bills we don’t like to pay.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have boundaries and rules. What I am saying is that too many people try to put us in a one size fits all box while squeezing our dreams right out of us. We have become slaves to money and things.
For years, I spent my life trying to make other people happy. I wore the appropriate social mask depending on who I was with. I went to church, had plenty of friends, bought a home, worked a good job and on the outside, it looked like I had my life together.
But on the inside, I was dying. And I didn’t know why. I wasn’t even aware that I was wearing a mask or trying to please everyone. And it wasn’t until recently that I made some changes that allowed me to feel alive, perhaps for the very first time.
I am going to share these things with you.
Be Honest With Yourself About Who You Are – If you were to have the same faith as a child, believing that you could be anything you wanted, what would you want to be? Or who would you want to be? Would you want to be a business owner? A millionaire or what? God created you to be a certain way. Those hopes and dreams that you keep a lid on to keep from rocking the boat were placed there by him. You were designed to fulfill a certain role in life. And if you wake up everyday feeling depressed, upset, stressed out or regretful about the way your life has turned out….then something is very wrong. You need to take the time to get to know yourself. Start a journal and begin to write down your thoughts for a week. Don’t think about what you’re writing and don’t try to censor yourself. Just write. At the end of that week, go back and read your entries.
Reading our thoughts helps us to put things into perspective. It allows us to find the problems in our thinking, and our behavior. It also helps us to see which areas of our lives are not benefiting us. After reading your journal, go back with a highlighter, and highlight the things that you want to change. You can also underline the things that make you feel happy, or more connected to who you really are.
Do The Things You Like – I can already hear your excuses. “I don’t have time……I don’t have the money…….I have too many responsibilities……I’m too depressed.” Here’s the reality of your situation. You don’t love yourself. There. I said it and I can’t take it back. How do I know that you don’t love yourself? Because you won’t make time for yourself! And the truth is that we make time for the things that are important to us. You might have you hands full with 10 kids, a full time job and everything else in between. I understand that those things are important. But so is taking 30 minutes each day to invest in yourself and to take care of your needs.
What is something that you enjoy? Name something you’ve always wanted to do. Do you want to write a book? Do you want to experiment with your psychic side? Do you want to create some type of invention that the world has never seen before? Then why don’t you? Find the tools that you need, whether it’s a book, a website, a youtube video or whatever and start investing in you.
This investment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it will cost you some time. And you’re worth it. So don’t overlook this important part of fulfilling who you were meant to be. Think of what it is you want to do, and form a plan to do it. Gain the knowledge, get the wisdom, even if it comes to you slowly, and just do it.
Take Off The Social Mask – There comes a time in every person’s life when our true colors will eventually show. Are you a closet Wiccan or New Ager attending a Christian church in order to gain the approval of your family? Do you mindlessly laugh along with the racist jokes your friends tell as to not make anyone uncomfortable? Did you vote based on how people told you to vote instead of voting for the values that best matched yours? In what ways are you hiding who you really are?
It’s not wrong to hide and it’s important for you to know that. Hiding is a survival technique. We all do it at some point in time because we feel threatened somehow. We’re haunted by the fear that people won’t love us if they know who we really are. We are worried that we won’t meet up to the standards set for us by our family, friends and neighbors.
But if people don’t love you for who you really are, then they don’t love you at all. They love a person who doesn’t really exist. They love the person that you’re only pretending to be. And don’t you think you owe it to yourself to be with people who love you for you?
Climbing out of your shell takes time. And you may not be ready to come out of it right now, and that’s okay too. But in the mean time, you owe it to yourself, to your creator and to the world to start with acknowledging who you really are.
See, I believe that the Universe (or God, if you prefer) created each of us with our own skills and talents. He gave each of us something a little different than he gave anyone else. And this wasn’t an accident. He did this on purpose to spice things up and to create a feeling a community. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. We somehow ended up with people in our lives who suppress us and want us to be who they want us to be.
Eventually, you’ll find the strength to walk through life naked. By that, I mean that the social masks will no longer serve you, and you will hold your head high and show the world who you really are. And when people try to point out your flaws, or when they attack your views and beliefs, you’ll be able to say….nothing. Because you’ll realize that it doesn’t matter if you get other people’s approval or not. What matters is that you get your own approval, and that you live up to your own expectations of who you want to be.
And trust me when I say this. Walking naked for the first time is scary. It requires boldness, courage and confidence. But when you get real about who you are, and when you’re ready to show off the real you…..the universe will bring the right like-minded people into your life, and you’ll realize that there are more people out there who love you for you than you ever could have imagined.
So starting today, make a pledge to yourself that you will break out of the social prison that has kept you in bondage for so long. Decide today that you – the REAL you – has a purpose, and is worthy of love, joy, happiness and contentment.
Because you are.
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