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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?

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  1. April 26, 2012

    One of the hardest parts of being 100% authentic is learning to love yourself and accept yourself without fear of being judged by others. Or perhaps despite being judged by others.

    • April 26, 2012

      Absolutely, Earl. Have you gotten there?

      • April 26, 2012

        As much as I’d like to, no. But it seems to be getting easier as the years go by, further solidifying the observation that youth is wasted on the young. 🙂

  2. lisamac333 #
    April 26, 2012

    i really dig the chick who doesn’t give a fuck x

    • April 26, 2012

      Me too! I just want her to cut the bullshit and be around 100% of the time.

  3. April 26, 2012

    Such a wonderful and honest post. I still struggle with this every once in a while, but I have gotten much better. There is great freedom in being all you all the time.

  4. lifeineden #
    April 26, 2012

    I have so much to say about this — but little people are screaming — back soon.

    • lifeineden #
      April 26, 2012

      I vacillate between obnoxiously being myself, and pretending to be what everyone wants. I think because I am an introvert and a person with only a handful of friends (IRL) that it totally confuses me. Sometimes I think — hey, I don’t have a ton of friends, maybe being ME isn’t such a swell idea. Other times I say, who give a f*ck, overall I am happy. I think that is what I value the most about this online community — I truly feel like I have found my circle of women for the first time ever in my life. I just wish you all were closer. Or I could just fine ONE woman like you all here in my own town.

      Okay, I’m rambling. But I do feel like a wasted my youth. I want to do what makes me happy. I want to enjoy my life. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to (sort of) figure it out.

  5. Ana #
    April 26, 2012

    I really appreciate your entry today. It’s one that hits close to home.

    Perhaps too close.

    I, too, am the child of immigrant parents. Actually I am an immigrant. I was 18 months old when my parents came to the USA “in search of a more prosperous life.”

    Though the youngest of three girls, who I was, what I did, also reflected on them. What I was “supposed” to do with my life in the future as the youngest was even more overwhelming. Culture and nationality contributes to what is expected of a child according to birth order. It can be suffocating.

    I wanted nothing more as a girl than to be a creative spirit, an artist, to live a solitary life, writing, capturing images, observing nature, whether it be on paper or with a camera, like the artists I idolized (We won’t talk about sports. Girls didn’t do sports.) Though my parents were very talented…my mother painted as a young girl, my father sang, played various keyboard instruments and wrote music…it was well understood that such creative pursuits didn’t pay the bills or afford one any kind of stability, not in the community, not fiscally. We were each to select a musical instrument to learn at a young age, but beyond that, there was little support or encouragement. The arts was what one did after hours, an activity, not a way of life.

    I’ve been working every day since leaving my corporate job 8 years ago now to allow myself the time to pursue all that interests me. I tried it their way and it sucked. There can be so much pressure to prove them wrong. How do you truly break the behavior and attitude that you’ve known your whole life? It’s not as easy to break and re-learn the second time around.

    So, yes, I struggle. Every day. At 49 years old. I imagine it will be so until I take my last breath. But, with every day, the work gets easier. Thank goodness for the work. I’d feel numb without it.

  6. Becky #
    April 26, 2012

    I have so much to say about this but it’s why I choose the theme for next month so I’ll just say here, I 100% hear you. I’m working on it too.

  7. April 27, 2012

    I held onto this post for a few days to let it sink in. My maternal grandmother was an immigrant and War Bride from WWII and I have heard many tales of how high the expectations were for her children. My grandfather didn’t help matters and felt his own sons could never out do him. Being one step removed though had it’s perks and it has been suggested by jealous aunts and uncles that my mothers children were spoiled because we lived close by our grandparents but that is another kettle of fish. I personally feel that I have given up some things over the past ten years (you and I are close in age) that had to be done when I set my mind to finishing my undergraduate degree. Some things I think will come back to me once this process winds down in December of this year but the things I speak of, such as ideas and interests and pursuits were a big part of making me who I am. And I like me. Some things I was able to do away with and outgrew naturally and others such as mistrusting the American GOP are things that I am still not comfortable with yet. I have yet to decide if I betrayed myself by voting GOP in the last election or not. And that is a mask issue to me that I need to make time for.

  8. May 2, 2012

    I wish I could tell you the path, and that I had already reached the end of it.
    My mother grew up without money, with a single parent who was manic depressive in an upper middle class town in Florida in the fifties. She spent a lifetime trying to just fit right in with every everybody else. In her sixties, she moved from the place she’d lived for the past 35 years. I think she felt more comfortable letting that freak flag fly in a new place than risking it in front of her old friends. I am trying so hard not to repeat these things with my kids.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The Authentic Me « AshleyKay
  2. Working on the pole. Wait, I mean the flag pole. Oh, nevermind. | Overexposed + Underdeveloped

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