We assume people will like us better if we show up in a certain way. We feel we can be more successful and gain more influence if we become this "idealized" person. We are wrong.
We spend so much of our precious brain bandwidth each day trying to be people we are not. We go “on stage” and do all the things we think people want. We do this because we believe people will like us better if we show up in the way they want us too. We feel we can be more successful and gain more influence if we become whoever this person is.
This isn’t true at all and the energy you're spending trying to make it work is not only moving you backward, but also making you lose sight of what’s so important in life- YOU.
Since I was young, I have always been praised for perfection and for making “good choices”. I’m not blaming my parents alone for this mentality, but I will say that I never felt I was allowed to make a mistake.
My siblings made the mistakes, I watched all of their mistakes and quickly learned what NOT to do in order to never disappoint my parents.
I never felt I had a say in what I wanted to do in my young adult life outside of societal norms. I went straight to college, got a degree, became married at 22, had kids and took on the role of a perfect wife as expected of me.
This mentality led to constantly needing to please others. It didn’t matter who they were – friends or strangers- I never let anyone down. High achiever all the way! The word "no" was never in my vocabulary.
But here's the hard thing to learn - When you aim to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
5 years into my marriage and 2 toddlers later, I made my first real and BIG mistake and from that mistake, I unraveled. My marriage ended and my world fell apart. I’ll never forget my mom coming to my home one evening while I was drowning in despair with a bottle of wine. She walked in, looked me up and down, crossed her arms and said with so much disappointment, “What happened to my perfect Jenn?”
“Perfect Jenn” had exited left.
I had begun to realize that my best parts in life came from my mistakes and all my new wrong turns were teaching me things about myself that I never knew.
I began to want to do all the things that felt real and different and scary.
It began to feel weirdly liberating to become so reckless for like a second!
If you layer this type of "perfectionism" thought process onto yourself year after year, you’re bound to create a solid foundation of becoming a person you no longer recognize. In my case, as much as I wanted to be my true self, I had never allowed her to make an appearance and I had no clue who she was.
My life had been lived as a chameleon to the needs of others. I was the people pleaser, a magical adapter and overall just a big “smoke and mirror” show.
My need for perfectionism still shadows my life, but I work hard to surround myself with the people that do “see me”. These are my people and because they see me- they do not allow me to show up as anything but my imperfect, raw, goofy self. When I attempt to be the other perfect version of myself- they call me on my shit.
On this journey, I’ve documented 30 ways to measure my ability to continue holding myself accountable to just being me.
If this is something you can relate to, then I’ll invite you to read below so you can stay aware of how to keep doing YOU.
Here are my 30 ways toward authenticity:
1. You don’t compare your accomplishments to others. Other people are accomplishing great things, but that does not mean that you cannot also accomplish great things. Always keep an abundance mindset and you will attract all the success you desire.
2. You don’t seek to want what other people have.
Remind yourself as you scroll through social media that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Maintain your gratitude for all the blessings you have in your own life and remind yourself it is always better to give to others than to receive for yourself.
3. You don’t seek validation from others. Compliments are nice and they make you feel good but learn to welcome the love they bring without attachment to them. Attaching your identity to validation is an endless cycle and will continue to force you to alter who you are to please others.
4. Your behavior is consistent no matter who you’re with. Do not change who you are depending on the people you’re surrounding yourself with. If people do not want to spend time with you as you, then they are not your people and that is okay.
5. You have a personal mission statement. You know your values and what you stand for. Make a list right now of the important things. What do you know for sure are non-negotiables? My values include my children, my time outdoors, travel and friends. People that know their values in life are guided by this compass and find it easy to stay focused on what’s most important.
6. You don’t consider yourself a perfectionist. Nothing good comes from seeking to be perfect. You’re not exactly relatable and therefore not always trustworthy from other people’s perspectives if you are perfect.
7. You have a few epic failures. Every emotionally intelligent person that has made a HUGE mistake in their life or even a few mistakes has learned something of value. Part of the value you learn is who you are when you hit that rock bottom. There may not be any truer way to get to know yourself than when you’re completely in the dark.
8. You’re comfortable being vulnerable. Authentic people are confident with their feelings and able to express them. They aren’t afraid to feel vulnerable because they know who they are.
9. You have plenty of people that probably don’t really like you. This is an important one. It’s okay to have people that do not like you. It is really okay. Accept it and move on. If you are catering to everyone, then you are catering to no one.
10. You stand out. You do not follow the trends. You do your own thing.
11. You have a strong support system. You have a core group of family and friends that know you, love you and accept you for the value you bring. They will always show up for you.
12. You question things before you jump in. You ask questions to best ascertain the right decisions. You do this because you know yourself and you understand your needs.
13. You resist the urge to always do what society expects of you. You aren’t afraid to go against the grain. You understand that society can be bias and the way we’ve “always done things” can be limiting. You aren’t afraid to push a little as needed and try unconventional ways.
14. You’re comfortable in your own skin. You love yourself. You love your beauty, your body, your mind and all your imperfections. You love these things and you’re not afraid to show it.
15. You live within your means. You understand the importance of money and you spend on things that bring you joy and things you need only. You save as much as possible by living within your means and you stay humble rather than chase after what everyone else has.
16. You know how to say, “I’m sorry”. You have the awareness to know when you made a mistake and you aren’t afraid to apologize.
17. You set boundaries for yourself and the people around you. You ensure the people in your orbit know what they can and cannot do around you. You are direct and clear in your expectations.
18. You aren’t the same person you were 5 years ago. You’re always seeking to learn and change. You aren’t afraid of new opportunities. You trust the process of success and failure.
19. You stay curious. You’re always learning and seeking new ways to do things. You do not accept the idea of doing things the same way only because that’s how they’ve always been done. You are an avid reader and seeker of new content and understanding.
20. People come to you for advice because they trust you. You are someone that has earned respect for your advice, confidence and trustworthiness. People come to you often for guidance.
21. You are self-aware and you listen to your gut instinct. You feel your instinct guiding you and you listen to it. Even though you may go into things blindly, you trust yourself to know what’s best for you.
22. You seek feedback from others. You aren’t afraid to listen to what other people think. You seek advice and you take what you need from it.
23. You do things that bring discomfort. You realize that comfort is a sign of becoming stagnant. You continuously ask yourself the tough questions to figure out what you need to do to keep yourself alert and agile.
24. You feel excited when other people succeed. You realize that the success of others is energy that we can all thrive upon. You want nothing but happiness for the people you love, even if that happiness doesn’t involve you.
25. You love yourself and you’re not afraid to show that.
Self-love is important to you. You aren’t afraid to show that you think highly of yourself. You are not arrogant. Arrogance is nothing but a shield of insecurity. 26. You pivot well. When you take a wrong turn or you find you’re ready for a change, you know how to test the waters before jumping all in. You plan and strategize effectively and then you make the jump when you’re ready.
27. You’re proactive not reactive. You do not let your emotions control you. You know yourself and you understand your triggers. You allow yourself the understanding that no one can take away your ability to react the way you choose to react.
28. You choose to see the light in the darkest situations. You understand that sometimes we must suffer the dark. These allows us to see the light. You know how to look for the light.
29. You do not allow other people to treat you poorly. You do not tolerate people in your life that speak ill of you nor those that do not respect your values. You see toxicity for what it is and you’re not afraid to tell it to go.
30. You’re reading this article. You’re curious about who you are and how you can continue to improve your life. People like you are strong and intelligent. You continue to succeed because you seek out all the ways that maximize success.
These are things for us to consider when we’re making the hard decisions to show up in life. I’ve struggled with each of these concepts for years, but I’m slowly learning how to accept myself and love myself the way I deserve.
The concepts above are not boxes to check.
They are ever changing.
I may struggle in one category one day and excel in the next. The purpose here is to become self-aware in the areas I need most and to keep trying to elevate myself.
Continue to ask yourself the hard questions, hold up the mirror and gain self-awareness because we can all do the hard things.
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