Your Authentic Self

Happy September, BTG lovelies!

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be your authentic self…you know who I’m talking about. The person you are when no one else is around & there’s no judgment, not having to be “on”, no one to tell you what to do or say or think, except yourself. Think about genuine you in those times of solitude, when you’re alone, even briefly, with your own thoughts…think about that person for a moment. Do you like that person? Do you LOVE that person? Or is there a mask you put on even for yourself when others aren’t around? Now think about anyone you are allowed to, able to, or even encouraged to be your true self around; genuinely, truthfully, honestly, 100% you. Do you have anyone like that or do most people try to change, mold, or shape you into what they think you should be?

I spent a lot of time locked within the confines of the boxes that people in my life put me into over the years; everyone else’s drawings of my life that I had to stay inside the lines of. But, I never belonged in a box & I was never meant to stay inside the lines, my color was meant to extend past the parameters others had set up for how they believed my life should go & I needed to fat cat squish that box till it broke flat (if I fits, I sits!). I more belonged in a doorless cage, able to fly & spread my wings & fall & make mistakes & learn & explore, then come back to a safe haven where I am authentically & passionately able to be myself at all times without having to apologize for it. There is something super beautiful about being able to be cared for by others exactly as you are, without conditions. I have gotten a very sweet taste of that throughout some special relationships in my life whether friends or family or sometimes even random people I've just stumbled across in certain seasons of life.

I don’t have to people please with them, or force, coerce or convince them to like me or accept me, I just get to be myself & that includes contributing to their happiness or giving to them or bringing out the best in them, & not having to think about if it’ll be reciprocated, because it shall, without question. I can be the victor of my life. You can be the victor of your life. We are capable of this!

There have been many times in my life when I’ve heard someone propose the question, “If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?” & many times I’ve heard the answers range from living life to the fullest to not taking things for granted to surrounding yourself with good people to listening more to your parents, the list goes on & on. This morning, as I was driving to work, a song played on the radio for Throwback Thursday that I hadn’t heard in quite some time. In fact, I’d kinda forgotten about it. But when I heard the lyrics again (to which I still remembered most of them, shockingly enough ~ human jukebox) I was immediately struck by the thought that this song is exactly what I would have young me listen to as a bit of a cautionary tale, if you will. If you weren’t born yet in ’97, or have been living under a rock with the Fraggles, you probably won’t know it but I’d venture that most of you have heard this song at one point or another in your life. If not or you need a refresher, it goes a little something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3EfvkXCgas

You put yourself in stupid places
Yes I think you know its true
Situations where it's easy to look down on you

I think you like to be the victim
I think you like to be in pain
I think you make yourself a victim almost every single day

You do what you do 
You say what you say
You try to be everything to everyone
You know all the right people
You play all the right games
You always try to be everything to everyone
Yeah, you do it again
You always do it again You say they taught you how to read and write
Yeah, they taught you how to count
I say they taught you how to buy and sell your own body by the pound
I think you like to be their simple toy
I think you love to play the clown
I think you are blind to the fact that the hand you hold is the hand that holds you down
Spin around and fall down
Do it again
You stumble and fall
Yeah, why don't you ever learn
Spin around and fall down
Do it again
Come on now
Do that stupid dance for me
You do what you do 
You say what you say
You try to be everything to everyone 
You jump through the big hoop
You play all the right games
You try to be everything to everyone
Spin around and fall down
Do it again
You stumble and you fall

~Everclear – Everything to Everyone ~

 

I don’t think this is a typical or usual “What I would tell myself” application but for my life & all that II'vebeen through, it’s pretty spot on & I wish I’d have listened closer to these lyrics when I was first jamming to it all those years ago. I can’t tell y’all how many times this happened. I consistently seemed to put myself into situations with people where I could get myself into trouble or taken advantage of or used or manipulated, knowing that it could possibly end badly & even going so far as to anticipate what it would look like to others from the outside & how poorly it would reflect on me to be in these scenarios if anyone found out, the things people would say or think or do, always instead convincing myself that this time would different. This guy would be different. This friend would be different.  This conversation will be different. So, I did them anyway, in turn sabotaging myself but then sometimes trying to displace some blame on other people for my problems or issues when I had put myself in them to begin with & fed into them because it was what I’d become used to, what I thought I deserved. I played the victim, the damsel in distress, the exempt, but I was wrong, on so many levels. I hurt myself, my family, my friends, my relationships, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy they were, all because I couldn't come to terms with my own victimization. I pushed the closest people to me away because I had to play the part. I had to make myself out to be the one who always got hurt, mainly because I was ashamed that I continually fell into this pattern of choosing to accept situations & people that would deliberately hurt me & let me down, not really believing I deserved any better, expecting the worst, yet all along stating loudly that I deserved better (what you believe to be true will become what you expect much?). I couldn't rise above the fray & see that I could take control on my own life & I didn't have to play into all of these things that I clung to as truth about myself & my life for entirely too long. I allowed others to look down on me & call me things & say things about me, all under the premise of “I don’t care what other people think” when all the while I was dying inside that people thought things of me without back story or coming to the source & just blindly believing what they thought to be true without understanding the context. Slut. Whore. Easy. Selfish. Bitch. Crazy. Damaged. Broken. Unlovable. Unworthy. Not enough. Will never be chosen. These lies kept me solid in my victimization for many, many years. I wallowed in it, wrapped myself in it, & comforted myself with it like it was hot tea & a blanket on a cold night in Wisconsin. It was all I knew. Sadly, I became comfortable in that & set up shop there for a long time.

Although I did the victim thing, I also played the people pleaser card full force. I said & did all I could to be everything for anyone that crossed my path whom I felt would need something from me or that I could rescue or fix. It was about immersing me into their life, fitting myself into whatever box they wanted to shove me in over & over again, I would push to be what I thought someone wanted from me. I molded myself into whatever category someone wanted to fit me in. Even if that meant compromising pieces of myself or my heart or my personality or my values or my soul & stifling myself & allowing others to snuff out my sunshine to make themselves feel better. I always did it again & again.

Instead of realizing that my individuality was unique & that I don’t fit into a box & I’m not meant to, I strove to be what everyone else wanted. If I couldn't fulfill their needs, I felt there was something wrong with me. If I couldn't make someone happy, it was obviously something I needed to work harder on. It was my fault they weren't happy, I had to sacrifice my own happiness for other’s happiness. I had to be everything to everyone I came across, even if that meant working the system or playing the game or involving others or allowing my body to be used. I had to fully exhaust all options to make everyone else okay even if I wasn't. It was all lies.

I sometimes help with young women’s conferences in Orange County & San Diego & there is a constant theme I find myself saying to girls during these times of questions, of doubts & fears about what people think of them & how they feel they sometimes have to be someone they don’t like in order to be liked or do things they aren’t entirely comfortable with to be accepted. I know that girl. I look at these girls & I know them deeply already because I was there. I used to put on that great, “I don’t care what you think,” face though & then go home & cry, madly scribbling poetry about my sensitive broken heart & lost friendships or relationships, how they just didn’t understand me or get me (as if I somehow had the capability to truly wrap my head around all of my uniqueness then, no, I just felt…different) but I find myself now saying something along the lines of this:

Being yourself doesn’t mean trying to get everyone to like you. There will ALWAYS be people that don’t like you, can’t handle you, don’t want to be around you, are jealous of you, think badly of you, speak ill of you, that,isn’t.on.you You can’t control other people’s thoughts or words of you amidst rumors or gossip or hearsay, without coming directly to you to find out the truth. You can, however, choose to be a victim or a victor in all situations in life. Take genuine ownership & responsibility for any negative effect you may have in the situation & move forward, if they can’t & continue to hate on you, well then again, that’s on them, not you. You’ve done your part. The main realization should be that happiness is a choice, YOUR choice, & it shouldn’t hinge on someone else’s inability to see the beauty you have to offer or their jealousy of whatever picture they have of your life. You do you & the right people will attract to you because ultimately you are worthy, you are enough, & you deserve to be chosen, whether that’s through family, friends, or relationships. But if they don’t come around, or don’t choose you, or make you feel less than, DO NOT take it personally. It’s harder for some than others & you don’t have to own that or make excuses for them. You simply love yourself enough to walk away from toxic people & situations.
— Sarah Noelle

 

Who do you have rowing in your lifeboat with you? Is it people who lift you up & encourage & paddle alongside you & take over when you get tired & allow you to take over when they get tired & joke, cry, laugh & allow you to be fully yourself along the journey or are they sabotaging your boat, poking holes in it or secretly filling it with water when you aren't looking?

If it’s more of the latter, some soul house cleaning may be in order before you drown. Know you are loved, cared for, that I am walking with you, I am on your team, I am in your corner &, as BTG founder, Ashley Mitchell & I say, I am honored to be in this foxhole with you. Now, go have an awesome weekend. You deserve it!

 

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