You do you
Someone sweet said something seriously profound to me the other day. Its brilliance is in its simplicity: You do you.
Often we feel like we have to be someone else, to hide who we really are. That we are going to be judged, for showing the real us. But at some point we just have to let it all hang out and be ourselves. To give you some context, when he said it I was trying not so subtly to grab some fruit from the kitchen at Carthage must be destroyed – something I generally like to do with an air of secrecy. I like to choose the specific fruit, I like to choose the bowl. I know I could ask someone to do it for me but I have to ask people to make my food all the time (I know this sounds like a very privileged problem to have) and sometimes it’s nice just to do it for myself. I am very particular and the privacy of the moment allows me to be as particular and fussy as I like. This simple, gentle, phrase in the moment seemed to bring some acceptance to the situation. That it was ok to do what I do, however I do it. That there is no judgement. That who I am, quirks and all, is ok.
For whatever reason, and there could be many, it is common to think we have to hide who we are. For fear of ridicule, for fear of being wrong, for fear of being judged, for not being accepted. We don’t show the people around us the whole of us. Maybe our trust has been broken in the past and we’re scared to trust again. Maybe we think the whole of us, every part of us, would be too much or too weird, too different. So instead we try and hide, pretend and be something we think the world wants us to be. I know I have spent a long time trying to anticipate what another person wants me to say or do rather than being true to myself. And let me tell you it’s exhausting.
But what if there is absolute freedom in being yourself? Fully and completely. Then how would you be, who would you be? Can you accept the parts of yourself that you think you need to keep hidden away, and really show yourself to the world? I think most of us can accept that we are pretty critical when it comes to us. It’s hard to believe that what we see is as our weaknesses could ever be ok or accepted. But ultimately if we feel we have to hide or disconnect or separate it must be because there is some part of ourselves that we can’t truly accept in ourselves.
But we are ok. All of us. The whole of us. In our perceived weaknesses and the things we think we need to hide, we can find our strengths. The things that we often have to work on the most or that we find the most challenging, will become our greatest gifts. In our weaknesses there is opportunity for growth. In our weaknesses we should find compassion for our story, for our lives, for who we are. There are always going to be ways that we think we need to improve. Personality problems that we feel like we should deal with. Opportunities for personal development. But can we just embrace it, knowing that everyone has their thing, their own little knobbly nugget, capable of turning into pure gold strength.
I think it takes courage to accept ourselves completely. To accept what makes us quirky or even odd. To accept that some things are harder and will feel more challenging for us. And it is nothing short of a brave act to show yourself to another person. And maybe it’s a process where you build trust and reveal more and more of yourself. And that’s ok. And it’s not just a self-centred, self focused thing- because if you are really intent on building relationships or community and want to fully and completely accept other people for their differences, you have to learn to accept the entirety of yourself and what makes you different. You have to give yourself some slack for what makes you, perfectly, imperfectly you.
So do you, completely. You’re the only one who can, who should, who knows fully how to. Find the freedom in allowing yourself to be yourself. Without pressure of needing to improve or change or be any different to exactly how you are. Embrace your you-ness – all of it. The more you do, the more we all feel safe and comfortable to share ourselves too.