I was 20 the first time I remember meeting someone who was unequivocally and unapologetically themselves. There was something about their presence that was so vibrant, and so unedited that was deeply refreshing. He was my professor in Social Psychology in second year Uni.
I remember thinking, I want to be like that -someone that is just so comfortable in themselves even when it makes others uncomfortable. Since those deeply impactful classes, I have made becoming more myself to be a guiding principle in my life.
There is a reason that there are so many pop psychology quotes out there about unlearning who you thought you had to be to become who you are. And that unlearning is life work.
Sometimes I think back to little me who barely spoke in school until Grade 4 and was so shy that anytime anyone would allude to her or call on her, she would blush. I think back on her sensitivity fondly.
Grade 4 was when I found out I was good at running. When I say found out, I mean I had no idea until we had to race all the other kids in our grade in heats on the field. I surprised myself when I noticed that I couldn’t see anyone beside me about two thirds through the 100m sprints. I gained a lot of confidence there and felt seen by others, respected and known for something.
To become more myself is to honor my younger self and what she knew to be true that she couldn’t explain or didn’t understand. Its in noticing how she speaks to me these days in subtle ways that feel oh so familiar.
As I untangle her beliefs these days its like solving a mystery where clues continue popping up just when I think I’ve solved it only to be humbled by her clever self again. Or dancing the same way your whole life and noticing that maybe you can add in a few steps, or change the sequence to that same familiar dance. Its about recognizing that you are both the investigator and the choreographer. That someone else gave you these steps and this mystery and you are the one who can choose what to do with it now, whether you want to notice the dance, and whether you want to follow the breadcrumbs.
Becoming more myself means allowing myself to be unencumbered, layer by layer, of self criticism and shame. As I lighten the load on my psyche and soma, I make space for my true self to feel relaxed and comfortable as she shines her beautiful light through. This is my life work.