By: Bethanie Jones
How many times have you questioned yourself based on other people’s opinions or perceptions of you? Maybe you were the last kid chosen in sports, or you just couldn’t live up to your parent’s expectations. Maybe society made you feel inadequate or maybe someone blatantly told you so. Maybe a spouse left you or cheated and you blamed yourself or maybe you just plain felt terrible for no reason at all. I have been there. We all have.
For most of my adult life I have been told, “You are too happy, and it intimidates people, it comes off too strong. People just aren’t outgoing like that.” (Yes guys, I actually did just type that, and there is such a thing has being too happy and too nice apparently, and I am it). My point is, that this message has been consistent, and consistently hurtful to me. It typically causes me to question who I am, and then I act in ways to conform that are inauthentic. The charade goes on, and in the end, it is me who ends up worse off. When we pretend to be something that we aren’t for the satisfaction of someone else, it is not sustainable.
Sometimes people give us feedback and it stuns us to our very core. Maybe because deep down we know what they are saying is true, and that’s why it resonates so deeply.
But…here is the game changer folks. Just because something is true about us, doesn’t make it bad.
It took me some time to realize this, but I say it again, just because someone noticed a quality in us that exists, that does not make the observation a bad thing. It does not mean we need to change who we are. Calling attention to something is simply that, calling attention to something.
So you weren’t athletic and you didn’t get picked first on the baseball team, but you were very musical and the band loved you. Your spouse left because you weren’t giving enough, but that’s because you were busy doing it all for them in other ways. People said you were too happy, but that’s because you have felt pain so deeply you couldn’t bare the thought of being the reason for someone else’s.
We can’t all be everything. We can’t all be buttoned up professionals or perfect stay at home moms or lifelong beauty queens. We are who we are, and our mission on this planet is to be loved and adored and helpful to society utilizing our own unique strengths —so we must fully embrace them.
These strengths, like them or not, lead us to our purpose, and we must unabashedly live through them. They are called gifts for a reason. Living authentically, albeit scary at times, will never steer you wrong. Trust in who you are, and bravely be yourself. Even in the face of disapproval, even in the face of being the odd man out. Sometimes we are messy, and sometimes we feel as if we won’t ever get it right. Sometimes we aren’t perfect and sometimes we wish we were all the things we are not.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in that space for too long, don’t let others tell you how to be and don’t for one second dim your light because others prefer the darkness. Live your life, be the light and when it calls for it, create your own damn sunshine.