What is this thing called personality? Who are we really? Yes, yes, we’re energy, we’re stardust, we’re All One, we’re everything and nothing but still… while we’re not floating around infinity and wafting around eternity, we still have this weird thing called a personality. It’s what makes me different from you, at least in the way I relate to other people and the world around me. Where does it come from? Nature? Nurture? The interplay of temperament and environment? Genes? Bottom line (having trawled through endless scientific sites) is that nobody knows. Nope. Not the foggiest.
I guess that, really, it doesn’t matter so much (though, still, it niggles). What does matter is feeling okay in your skin, is being able to express yourself in a way that feels ‘real’. I guess that’s what we call ‘authenticity’. If we can’t be that person, that authentic self, if we have to hide or squash down who we are, then our psyche gets strung out and its frustration tends to emerge in all manner of unpleasant ways – from depression and anxiety to physical aches and illnesses. It’s as if there’s a way (or, indeed, many contradictory ways) we each need to be in order to flourish, a way/s that we can’t suppress without consequences. Square pegs, round holes…that sort of thing.
I know for sure that I had reached a point where I didn’t feel real. I talked when I didn’t want to talk and I became quiet and polite and nice when really I wanted to scream or laugh or dance.
I came up against it this weekend just past when I went to a workshop. ‘You can’t do anything wrong, there is no right way to do this,’ said the facilitator.
I let myself be as near to ‘me’ as I have been in a long time. It felt good and yet suddenly I found myself worrying that I was somehow being ‘too much’, too ‘over the top’, too expressive. I felt like Tigger, bouncing and bounding all over the shop. And I wanted to slap myself. And then I thought, wait…no. This is how I feel. This is me. Take it or leave it.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Brene Brown.
All too often we damp ourselves down (or big ourselves up); we make ourselves into people we are not. We try to fit into what other people and society want and expect of us (or what we think they want and expect). And that bruises the psyche, it scars the Self.
How much unhappiness do we cause ourselves by living a lie? The trouble is, we get so used to not being our authentic selves that, after a while, we start to believe our own bullshit. We forget who we were before society got hold of us.
Surely our only real choice is to be totally, fully, gloriously ourselves. No apologies, no masks, no evasions. Does that mean we will lose friends? Quite possibly. But then, are they real friends if they don’t like the real you? If they can’t accept all of you, unconditionally? Will that mean that you won’t feel able to do certain jobs, to live in certain ways? Most likely. But what’s the choice? To live a lie and quietly die, day by day?
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Carl Jung.
I like that (I like Jung) but, you know what, I like this even more…
“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.”
I’m not sure who said that but it feels good. These days I feel like I’m having to scrape off all kinds of stuff that has caked itself around me. And while that feels scary, it also feels exciting.
And then I picked up a book I’d been sent called Conscious Writing by Julia McCutchen and I opened it at random and this is what I read:
“Allowing ourselves to be authentic…involves completely accepting ourselves for who we are at every shade of every colour of the individual spectrum of our being… We need to find the courage to stand firm in the midst of what appears to be a paradox: that we are whole and perfect just as we are, and simultaneously incomplete and replete with imperfection.” And that reminded me of something else…but I’ll save that for another day.