So it’s been a big week. I have come out from under my bushel and started to shine my light. I’m feeling really quite exposed but in a good way. I might be starting to quite like it. There is so much I have to say, so much I want to share with the world and it is such a privilege to be allowed into people’s inboxes to be able to reach them in that way. There will always be a million other people with similar messages to mine but that’s fine. I’ve learnt from my own experiences of voices that resonate with me or otherwise that it’s not the message it’s who is saying it that matters. The words I use, my tone of phrase, my character, my personality.
One of the biggest things that drives me is to help people be more THEM rather than the person the rest of the world expects them to be. We all do it. Sometimes it’s required. Like when you’re at work, you mostly can’t be the mad psycho-babbling extrovert that you are when you’re out on a Saturday night and things are getting a bit messy!
But there are also so many opportunities to be the real us that we miss on a scarily regular basis. How many times have you said yes, because you felt it was expected of you, when every fibre of your being was screaming NO! I’ve written about that before here, but it’s such an easy trap to fall into.
Being me, really and truly me, gives me freedom.
You can have that too. But treat it like a cake. One slice at a time (or maybe two if you’re feeling particularly reckless)!
Too much freedom in one go can be overwhelming so there is no need to ditch all the rules and expectations in our lives all at once, because frankly, that’s really quite scary. I read an article this week about how many of our 18 year olds just starting out at university this autumn are finding Freshers’ week very daunting, because it’s such a free-for-all, alcohol-fuelled, unstructured week where they are also supposed to be finding their feet out on their own in the big wide world for the first time. (For any of you who aren’t familiar with Freshers week it’s the first week of the University academic year where all the new students are bombarded with social pressure to engage with a plethora of different societies and extra-curricular activities, challenges, silliness, major letting-down-of-hair and general craziness!)
The article was saying that what many of them are craving, particularly those that have come straight from the pressures of A-levels and exams at school in the summer, is more structure. They have committed to spending a lot of money, getting into potentially large amounts of debt in order to be at university and they want to get stuck in straightaway. They want the comfort of routine, of having a basic framework to operate in, of knowing what is expected of them.
This also rings true for those of us who are, ahem, long past the age of 18! Comfort and security is valuable and we strive for it – and knowing that we can conform to other people’s expectations of us falls neatly into this category. Some of us are completely unaware that we’re doing it, for others, it’s more of a choice not to rock the boat on the currently placid lake.
Of course, there are those amongst us who relish the idea of a bit of white water rafting – sod the idea of a nice placid lake! They want spray, waves, an element of surprise, of danger. (Notice I say “they”…I’m not one of them!) It’s quite likely that these people will be more true to themselves, not as wary of saying or doing the wrong thing as the rest of us. We all know someone like that. But there is the distinct possibility that even these people have created this wild and zany persona while perhaps hiding a slightly more reserved person underneath.
It’s never too late to start becoming the person you really are. It’s never too late to say no if it feels right, or yes where no would have once been the answer that most easily tripped off your tongue because to say yes might upset the apple cart.
Maybe now is the time to start saying more yeses in unexpected places. Maybe now is the time to start giving people the occasional surprise. Lots in one go makes people feel uncomfortable…the minute it’s obvious that you’re changing you will run up against all sorts of resistance because those that are close to you worry that you won’t fit into their lives any more. They’ll give you all sorts of reasons why you shouldn’t do A or why doing B is going to be a disaster, but it’s not about you, it’s about them.
Start small. Start by making small decisions from your gut, in the moment, rather than from a position of habit. Start by simply acknowledging when habit and conforming to expectation is rearing its head. You don’t necessarily need to change your behaviour in that moment there and then, but just becoming aware that you have chosen not out of freedom but out of habit is HUGE!! This really is a massive, massive step towards shedding a thin gossamer layer of the person other people are expecting you to be. So start. Simply start.
To new beginnings and little insights.