Authentic Self

This morning I was exploring childhood memories of watching The Beverly Hillbillies when I had a certain realization and started crying. I couldn’t stop crying for over ten minutes, and for the next few hours I was visited by waves of sadness, like a rock on the beach being washed by the waves of a receding tide. Even writing this now, I feel twinges. Yes, it was that big.

I realized that the Clampetts symbolize what I’ve spent most of the last 40 years struggling to achieve. I’m not speaking of having a palatial home or millions of dollars; I’m speaking of living an authentic life and being my authentic self. They had a clear sense of who they were and weren’t, regardless of their surroundings and circumstance, and were happy being themselves.

I was grieving the decades when I was so desperate for acceptance that I would do nearly anything. I used to ask what the other person wanted so much of the time that when they asked me what I wanted, I seldom had an answer. In my early relationships, I would ask in various ways “Who would you like me to be?” and then try to make myself into that person. What I do now is say “This is who I am.” and trust that while I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, some people will like me for who I am.

I was grieving that from time to time, in certain situations, I’m still the chameleon – blending in, moving slowly and quietly, trying to avoid being noticed. And I was also celebrating how in so many ways I don’t do that any more. For instance, at lectures I used to be one of the people who would attend and leave without a peep; recently in the Q&A, I asked not one, not two, but three questions. Most importantly, I didn’t feel embarrassed or nervous about asking my questions. On the other side, I used to be a wallflower and cringe when someone asked me a question. Now I have the confidence to share what I’m thinking when I feel it’s relevant.

I was grieving all the years when I wasn’t my authentic self, and celebrating my process of coming back to my authentic self. It feels good to be “home”.

Take a moment for yourself now, and consider what aspects of your authentic self you’ve lost touch with, and then think about about how you might find your way back to wholeness.

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