When All Else Fails, You Could Try Being Yourself

{photo credit :: wordsoverpixels.com}

Two words: Online. Dating.

(I know, probably not what you thought I was going to say.)

I’m fairly certain that nothing on earth could possibly inspire someone to want to embellish or exaggerate more than online dating. It is simply impossible not to feel compelled to try to convey that “yes, of course, I most certainly lead a fabulous and interesting life full of incredible adventures and awesome activities!” … even when the reality is that most nights it’s me, my cat, my yoga mat, and maybe a walk around the neighborhood or a cup of tea and a good book (ok, ok, the real deal: a cup of tea and terrible television shows).

And really, all of us engage in these shenanigans. We fear that other people will reject us if we’re not —

  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Helpful
  • Useful
  • Perfect
  • Knowledgeable
  • Interesting

(And so on, and so forth.) So, we try to portray this image of ourselves that we imagine will be well-received by those around us. We tell ourselves that if we can manage to make ourselves appear to embody those qualities, we’ll be needed, loved, whole, complete.

But what if we didn’t start from a place of fear? What if we granted ourselves the freedom to let go of these masks and be our authentic selves? What if we let that be enough? 

Christina Feldman tells us that when we renounce this creating of the self, we can “learn how to stand in the ground of sufficiency, confidence, completeness, and freedom.” She suggests that in this act of renunciation, there is an “unshakeable freedom, fearlessness, homelessness — in which we find our home in all things.”

Hmm.

I don’t disagree.

But there’s something about the simplicity of this statement that belies the extreme difficulty inherent in letting go of the deep long-term relationship patterns that have been developed from a lifetime of experiences and feedback. We’ve (right or wrong) connected the dots and drawn conclusions about what version of The Self others will like… and, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a death grip on “my image.” (I mean, for god’s sake, just a moment ago I almost lied to you about the fact that at night I’m more likely to zone out in front of the tv, than to read a good book!)

Yet even though letting go of our persona flies in the face of these deep-seeded habits, sometimes we manage to do it — to let our guard down and share the Real Deal. For me, these are moments of clarity, strength, courage, and compassion. In other words: they feel good. 

Embracing The Scary Stuff

While it’s easiest for me to connect with these moments of renunciation of the self in writing, as we head into our ninth teacher training weekend, my intention (which I’m sharing publicly, so I have to follow through with it ;)) is to allow myself to have one of those moments in real life. To prod myself to speak up when I know that I might speak haltingly, laugh nervously, give the wrong instructions, or just plain freeze. (I feel queasy just thinking about it, which is a sure sign that I would benefit from following through with this plan.)

Will it actually happen? Maybe, maybe not. Will that be okay? Of course. (I can always try again some other time.) But either way, I’ll be taking note of my experiences/feelings and, as the always-wise Michelle put it, dropping breadcrumbs that I can come back to later.

And with that, I’m off to watch some truly horrendous television!

16 comments

  1. I LOVE the things you have to say (and I used capital letters on purpose). Isn’t amazing how some people are able to see the beauty in the gnarly parts, just the way they are?

    1. Awe, shucks, THANKS!! <3

  2. Robert Webster · · Reply

    Wow. You’ve got a gift and you need to continue blogging after TT. I can’t wait to take a class from you when you finish. There are three blogs I go to every day (I know, you and the Devine Miss M don’t write every day) but I still look and re-read. BikeSnobNYC is the other one. With yours and Michelle’s I laugh, cry and nod knowingly along. BikeSnobNYC I laugh so hard I cry! I’m glad I met you before TT and glad you shared your journey. You’re a gem and you’ll have a huge supportive group wherever you teach. <3 and Namaste.

    1. Wow, I don’t even know what to say, except thank you, big <3 and namaste!! (And yes, I check the Divine Miss M's blog daily too :))

  3. The best horrible tv show – Archer. Only watch it if you’re okay with crass humor and “adult themes”.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who, when they have shown me their real personality, I have instantly disliked or turned away from. Once I realize that this is who this person is, I usually feel more comfortable and drawn to them. I know one of my big struggles is trying to be honest in my writing. I’m constantly putting up and ripping down my own filter, afraid of criticism and judgement. And why is that a bad thing? It should be an opportunity to learn, not an unpleasant experience to avoid.

    Good luck with your intention this week!

    1. “Archer is an animated, half-hour comedy that revolves around the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) and the lives of its employees. Although their work of espionage, reconnaissance missions, wiretapping and undercover surveillance is daunting and dangerous, every covert operation and global crisis is actually just another excuse for the ISIS staff to undermine, sabotage and betray each other for personal gain.”

      Ha!! Sounds promising….. :)

  4. But what if we didn’t start from a place of fear? What if we granted ourselves the freedom to let go of these masks and be our authentic selves? What if we let that be enough? Uh, yeah…what if? Being fearless is scary! You are in good company, dear.

    1. Yes, so scary. We shall see… :)

  5. I love this post Rebekah–so good. I got teary at “what if we didnt start from a place of fear?” and teary again re-typing it now. such a powerful question. You’re my hero of embracing the scary stuff!

    1. Thanks Laura! Though really no credit for doing the scary stuff earned quite yet… let’s see if I manage to not clam up and get quiet when the opportunity arises. Eek!

  6. Fear, honesty, be yourself, forget all that you learned, stand tall.. lots of big bold words – statements even. “speak your truth, even if your voice shakes” (unknown author) What a complicated mess we have learned to be, hey? We have been taught what to say, what not to say, how to be and how not to be, can that really be set down as we look in the mirror and figure out who we really are? – I see, a lip gloss addiction (shy smile) deep brown eyes, freckles, self help books, a soul that spends a lot of time internal, i watch to much tv, learn very little, feel a bit trapped, but I try to be a good person never the less.. But back to the topic, the best route has always been, be yourself, but you already knew that. I learned a few years back that I am tired of “trying to be”, and started to just be. I am not great at it, I am not always comfortable but as I age, I do notice its easier to just tell it as I feel, and you know what, people will love the horrible TV shows too, or not be bothered, they will love you for who you are and that’s more of a true love then any out there. you will find someone who knows that you are uncomfortable flushing toilets (blush) or that you like cheese and jam on your toast. Strive to be different, strive to be you, and while you may not be a superstar you will find out, you are a pretty amazing person too.. hope it doesn’t sound like a lecture, I worry for that… its just me pouring a bit of my dorkish delights to remind you we are all human, we all have our quirks, but we are all loveable just the same. I am so happy to watch you learn and grow, from the other side of a computer screen, knowing that this is a challenge most people face, but tend to lean in the direction of learning to be something they are not.
    I always found the computer screen, allowed me to be the most honest version of myself, as it feels guarded, safe, and most of all,not alone. Your not alone new friend, we are all trying to find our ways, different paths, different journeys, but a lot of the lessons are the same, just different. Like us I suppose. Your beautiful, in the honesty you share, but also the same as the rest of us, in our own ways. *bows to you * keep letting you out, let her dance in her underwear, or re watch Disney movies on Sundays .Smile, enjoy the journey, enjoy you..

    1. “Just be” – I like it!

  7. I enjoyed reading this Rebekah! Vis a vis online dating – I never got into it, too much work for me – but I did write a few profiles over the years and it always struck me as incredibly difficult. How do you express yourself in that format? Can you be objective about who you are? I feel like writing a profile about yourself is a little like trying to write a review of some classical music. Sure, you can give them a general idea of how it sounds and what themes it may carry, but it’s really no substitute for a concert.

    The funniest thing about misrepresenting yourself in such a format – intentionally or not, hamming it up or self deprecating – is that it seems so unlikely that your people will find you! And yet, even knowing that, it’s so hard to do ti any other way…

    Well, thanks for sharing! Good luck letting go!

    1. 100% agree Joshua! And so fun chatting with you today – really appreciate your perspective.

  8. Good stuff, B.

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