I ran across the photo below today! Oh that I would have learned this at an earlier age, although in hindsight, those lessons have made me who I am today, and therefore I suppose were necessary!
Living In Fear Of Judgment
I have spent the majority of my life trying to please others in every aspect, for fear I would otherwise be rejected and end up alone. I honestly had no idea who I was, what I truly thought and what my core beliefs were, and I was petrified to explore those depths. What if I was identified as different, far outside the boundaries of normative, rational thinking? The fear of judgment and isolation drove me to constantly wear a mask, becoming a master chameleon, able to morph into any environment and willing to sacrifice any semblance of who I was, or who I thought I could be, to insure I didn’t become the outcast. By outward appearances, I was calm, collected and seemed very much on top of my game. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Inside I was a total basket case, knowing full well I was not anything close to what or who I was pretending to be, and deathly afraid others might find that out. I maintained my closely guarded secret and my mask became a permanent fixture in my daily wardrobe. The interesting thing was that in spite of all my efforts, I still remained on the outskirts of most social circles and with very few friends. The very thing I was trying to avoid by masquerading to please others, still became the ill fate I re-lived daily.
Wearing The Mask Is Exhausting
I finally got to the point, not all that long ago, that I had experienced enough. I was sad, lonely, seriously depressed, and feeling very much without hope, as I had no idea how to change what had become a miserable and exhausting existence. Wearing a mask and pretending every day, going the extra mile to consistently gain the approval of others was an incredibly tiring venture, and yet I saw no other options, as I was so blinded by fear.
Choosing To Be Ourselves
One day, I just found myself too tired to lift the mask to my face any longer. Suddenly, I had to stop. It wasn’t really that I decided to face my fears, although that does sound more noble, rather it was more that I was just too exasperated to continue the charade and I didn’t have the energy to care what others thought about me any longer. This was a defining low point in my life, but looking back, I also recognize it as one of the best days of my life. This day I chose to be me and start discovering myself at the risk of being rejected by others. Whereas before, my pendulum was swinging in one direction with me never really articulating my own thoughts, now it was swinging in the exact opposite direction and a bit too fervently, I might add. I had gone from one extreme to the other. I was now spewing every thought, belief and commentary that surfaced in my head, boldly, somewhat obnoxiously, and seriously lacking in tact!
Thankfully, with time and age, I began to find balance. Recognizing that though I no longer had the need to please others, I also needed to be more judicial about what thoughts I chose to share and how! The power behind this newly found freedom was identified in finally understanding those that judged me and I had worked so hard to please were the very ones with the problem. It was their issue not mine. They were unable to accept me as I was, with an understanding I was a work in progress, still being molded, and had not yet arrived. They had the need for others to appear as them, so their own identities didn’t stand out as different. It all started making sense. All this time, I had thought I was the only person in the world feeling this way when in retrospect, most were struggling with the same issues and therefore the vast majority were not being themselves. They were masquerading as well. There was a whole pack of frauds, stealthily cloaking their own personalities and amazing traits to fit the status quo, that didn’t really even exist!
Finding Your Authentic Self
Since that time, I am constantly traversing my inner depths to identify my individual beliefs, truth, and my authentic self. No longer do I feel the pressure or the need to bow to public opinion and change my behaviors to persuade others to feel better about me. I recognize that I truly am an amazing, genuine, spiritual, loving being and have much to offer this great world of ours. My value and worth can no longer be determined by beliefs and the approval of others. I have confidence in who I am called to be and the path I have chosen to walk. The funny thing is, as soon as I stopped caring what others thought and started being real, vulnerable and authentic, I started being a people magnet. I started drawing people into my circle, making friends, and experiencing depths that most are not even aware exist, and really with no effort on my part, other than the remembrance to just be myself and nothing else! All that time and energy that was being spent trying to impress others is now being used to make positive changes in our world. The only people I strive to reach now are those who are hurting and in need of unconditional love and healing. Fear of rejection was a prison, holding me in bonds that interfered with what I was called to do and rendering me ineffective. Those shackles have been removed and I am free now to express the depths and intricacies of my journey. In doing so I hope to encourage others to follow suit and not be afraid to be their authentic selves. I very much look forward to others journeying beside me, sharing in the depths and complexities of life and yearning to continually go deeper. In letting go of these habitual patterns, we will find the miracles that have been waiting for us the whole time, but we were unable to see when we were so busy pleasing others!
Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby
Also published on Medium.