I really wracked my brain to come up with a topic for today’s post. It shouldn’t have been this hard. I work. I wear many different hats, and spend my days doing a variety of jobs. There were any number of topics I could have touched on. But what I kept coming back to when thinking about the various types of “work” that I do, was that I’m constantly working on myself and striving to be the best version of me – the real version of me.
Here’s the history: I was born to parents for whom conformity was king. They were immigrants who came to Canada in search of a prosperous life. For them, appearances were everything, and as their first born child, everything I did (or wore, or said) reflected on them. I grew up with very high expectations of how I was to present myself, what career I was supposed to choose and what sort of lifestyle I was to have. For a kid like me, who was extremely creative and highly sensitive, this environment was totally soul sucking. I went through the motions, always pretending, hiding my true feelings, desires, and beliefs.
Adulthood has presented some great opportunities for growth. My twenties were all about figuring out what mattered to me and what I wanted out of life. There was marriage, then babies. Dabbling in a variety of creative endeavours to figure out what I was good at and what made me crazy-happy. There were some ups and a hell of a lot of downs. Great learning experiences. Things that I’m proud of, and things that I said and did to myself and to others that I’m not so proud of. Typical growing pains stuff. All worthwhile. Now, at 36, I know who I am, what I stand for, and what matters most to me. All is finally well in my head, right?
Wait. Why is it still so hard to be my true self in front of other people? It’s nuts. On one hand, I’m this chick who could give a fuck what other people think of her. On the other, I’m still the little girl so used to pretending. The little girl wins out more often that I care to admit – and I want it to stop. I want my friendships to go deeper, I want my kids to have a role model for being unabashedly yourself, I want to be free of my mental constraints. Most importantly, I want to die satisfied that I gave being “the real Carmen” an honest shot. Right now I’m at the point where I don’t have a fucking clue how to go about it – besides just diving right in and being truthful about where I’m coming from and what I struggle with.
Putting this out there on the interwebs is a huge step for me, but my goal is to be radically authentic and that takes guts. It means saying the shit that scares me to death. Writing this post is actually giving me heart palpitations. In my head the voice is screaming, “Don’t let them see your weaknesses!” It’s how I survived for years, and that mechanism is still triggered on a daily basis.
So, lovely readers, this is what I’ve been “working” on lately. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Have you found a way to be 100% yourself, without question? Or do you struggle like I do?