This is such a simple question, and yet how many of us are spending time and energy trying to manage ourselves to be something better than we are?
We put on a mask, create a persona, act “as if”…
Why is it so difficult to show up and just be ourselves?
Authenticity is something thats important to me – it’s one of my values. But that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it all the time. In fact, I think that it’s my struggle to understand what it means to be myself that has made authenticity so important to me.
I was always a tomboy when I was young – I liked adventures like climbing trees and getting muddy. I had short hair and I wasn’t bothered about dressing up nice. As I became a teenager I took that to the extreme – I found that being “one of the lads” got me attention. My girl friends were bitchy and I was geeky, so I exaggerated the things that helped me fit in and suppressed the bits that made me feel vulnerable.
I didn’t realise I was doing it, but over time I created a bunch of rules about who I was, what I was good at, who I liked to hang around with and the things I liked to do.
And still I didn’t always fit – I often felt different – I didn’t know enough, or maybe I knew too much. I wasn’t friendly enough, or maybe I was too friendly. I wasn’t pretty enough, and sometimes I was too pretty… I was always adapting trying to adapt myself to fit the situation and it was so hard to get it right.
Could I ever be enough?
And so began my personal development journey, to learn more about how to manage myself better so that I could be my best self. Surely if I took enough action and worked hard enough on myself, I would eventually be enough.
I’ve done all sorts of courses and programmes – I’ve been on “warrior camp” and trained as an NLP master practitioner. I’ve learned reiki and yoga alongside my degree in maths degree and becoming a chartered engineer. I’ve explored the logical, the emotional, the spiritual and the physical and, while these have helped me understand more about myself, I still experienced overwhelming self-doubt. I wondered if I could ever do enough to be enough.
Then I came across a new idea.
What if I just was enough?
What if I was born enough, and I always was enough?
What if I didn’t need to manage myself or keep others happy, or find a way to fit in?
What if I could just show up as me and trust that was always enough, even when it felt like it wasn’t?
This was an idea that spoke to me, and yet I resisted it. What about all of the hard work and effort I’d put in to making myself a better person? Could I have just sat on the sofa doing nothing all my life, and still be able to say I was enough?
It sounded too simple and easy.
But I was drawn to it and started to get curious. I’ve experimented with not pushing myself so hard, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s lovely to completely back off and do nothing, and yet I’ve not yet got stuck doing nothing.
I discovered that when I take time out for me I get new ideas and energy. Inspiration hits and I feel moved to do things. I don’t want to do nothing, I want to give it a go.
Without the pressure, something new comes through. When I give myself a break, I tap into a different sort of creative energy that picks me up and carries me.
I’m always amazed at how well things work out, and how easy things can be when I trust myself and accept that I am enough. When I’m in this place, my natural authenticity comes through.
I still get taken out by self-doubt, but when I do I know that it’s self-doubt is part of me and part of my experience – it’s ok to feel it and it will pass.
The more I trust who I am in this moment right now, and let that person be themselves, the more I shine and bring my gifts to this world.
It is always ok to “just” be me.
And it’s always ok to “just” be you.
These ideas are at the core of my Authentic Tech Leaders mentorship programme – helping you to develop the trust in yourself to let your light shine. Find out how to join my next cohort here, kicking off on Sept 25th 2023.
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