Last month I went to a conference for women in business. The first speaker was unapologetically inappropriate and shamelessly suggestive.
She was brilliant — and really inspiring.
She was confident (not arrogant) and funny (in a self-deprecating way). She was every woman, in that she said out loud the sort of things most of us think, but would never say. She was bringing her authentic, true self to the task and risking being rejected by over 300 women. Her already powerful message was made all the more powerful by the impact of her authenticity.
Many of us struggle to bring our authentic selves to all parts of our lives. We learn to edit and censor ourselves very early in life. On the one hand this is an essential life skill — it helps us fit in, collaborate, form relationships, work in a team and function in society. On the other hand it can leave us dangerously unexpressed. I say dangerous because I think there’s a cost to our health if we suppress ourselves too much too often.
Many of us hide our fear, our vulnerability, our loneliness, our opinions, our loves… We fear being rejected if we show our true selves, but by hiding aspects of ourselves, what are we missing out on?
Consider areas of your life where you might experiment with being more authentic.
(By the way, I’m not suggesting your life is one big lie — just that most of us have bits that we hide. Neither am I suggesting you let it all hang out in all situations — over-sharing can get us in to all sorts of trouble What I’m suggesting is balance.)
Where might you open up a bit, show your vulnerability, voice your opinion or stand up for something you believe in?
Consider the consequences of bringing a more authentic version of yourself in a given situation. What might happen that’s undesirable? E.g. I’ll be rejected, people will laugh, I’ll lose my credibility, I’ll be found out… What might happen that’s desirable? E.g. I’ll connect to more people and / or more deeply, people will like me, people will respect me, I’ll make a difference, I’ll have an impact, I’ll entertain, I’ll change someone’s mind…
Then, weigh the risks and take action. Experiment with bringing a more authentic version of yourself to a place or situation (maybe start small, notice the results / rewards — and notice your thoughts and feeling).
Is it worth being a bit more your authentic self a bit more often?