Let me set the stage: I walk into a fancy party in a stately home where a kind lady in a black and white uniform greets me at the door. She hands me fresh lemonade in a crystal glass. Not fancy cut glass…this thing was like a crystal goblet. She takes the simple party gift I brought and ushers me into a beautifully decorated and surprisingly full formal dining area. This is the moment I realize I do not fit in and the alarm bells start ringing. I scan the room and can’t help but feel the thick air of pomp and circumstance. Everyone woman here is obviously trying to out-do the other. That dread creeps in in knowing I will eventually say something out of line or embarrass myself. I say a few quick hello’s and then escape to the kitchen to find respite with one of the hosts who has been tasked to stay in the kitchen, and gladly does so. I can feel the weight of the other guest’s expectations fall off like heavy armor when that kitchen door swings closed and I can sit and relax into my real self with a good friend. In the dining room, I’m self-conscious, nervous and desperately trying to find something I can speak on to relate to these women. In the kitchen, I laugh and smile easily while chatting over snacks. In the dining room I’m faking it but in the kitchen, I’m just me.
Have you ever been there? Feeling so out of place that you automatically morph to this totally different person just so others won’t feel uncomfortable?
It’s exhausting pretending to be someone your not. In my unprofessional opinion, we need to stop doing this. Let that freak flag fly!
When you pretend to be someone your not, you will keep attracting people to that fake-self. When you begin to really understand what makes you happy and feel most comfortable in your own skin, then you will attract more people who are in tune with that person, the most authentic you.
Try to take inventory on when you feel less authentic. Is is around a certain person or group? In a particular social situation? Imagine what that setting or interaction would look like without the front that you put on. Imagine yourself as just you. How would that shift the energy of that room?
Let’s also remember to be reasonable here. Don’t go wearing a star spangled bikini to a board meeting because you think your “true-self” is a beach bum who would rather be lying on the beach. I’m talking about not being afraid to ask questions in a meeting because you don’t want to look stupid or trying to be genuine at a party when you don’t think you fit in. Make a point to step outside of yourself in that moment when the urge to put on a show rumbles as the surface. Stay grounded in who you really are; no apologies.
As for that fancy party, I was there to celebrate a friend and did so as best I could in my authentic self. And I got away with only one inappropriate comment (some didn’t get it, but those who did gave me dirty looks) and it made me chuckle because I knew that these people were not “my people”. It didn’t matter what they thought about me. I left that party feeling great because I knew I didn’t sacrifice who I was to fit the mold. And neither should you!
You are here for a reason and nobody can do life like you do it. You’re a limited edition; start acting like it!