On being you

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I attended a conference where I met someone whom I can only describe as “my people”.

For me, a relatively introverted, insecure woman, it’s always a revelation when you meet someone you so readily connect with. It makes me think I mustn’t be such a bad person.

This lovely woman and I hung out over the two days of the conference, laughing and telling stories and getting to know each other. At dinner on the final night, she turned to me and said, almost shame-facedly,  “I know we’ve chatted on Twitter and email before, but in person you’re nothing like I expected. I actually thought you’d be a bit boring.”

Some people might find that offensive, but I didn’t. Because I knew she was right.

I put up a facade online, one designed to tell a particular story to a particular kind of person. But that facade isn’t me. And really, it’s no longer the person I’m working to be either.

The real me is less bland and more human.

  • I laugh at inappropriate moments.
  • I have perennially messy hair.
  • I would prefer to clean the toilet than do the ironing.
  • I get really, really obsessed with ideas, people, and stories.
  • I protect my alone time fiercely and don’t react graciously when it’s taken away.
  • I talk in an American accent when I’m quoting movies.
  • I am a Walking Dead fangirl.

And I’m coming to realise that, really, I’m OK with all of this.

In fact, when I embrace the real me – the one I am being when I don’t feel the need to be another version – I feel good in my own imperfect, weird skin.

When I look at the people I am drawn to, the stories I remember, the ideas I share, they are all imperfect and weird and human and non-bland. It’s what makes them interesting.

For a long time, I removed my own “interesting” in favour of “palatable”, and then wondered why I never felt fully comfortable in my own skin–when the truth was, I was wearing someone else’s version of my skin. Or, rather, I was wearing my version of what I thought someone else thought should be my skin. (Sounds exhausting.)

Now I still battle my insecurities, but as I get older I’m beginning to realise those insecurities are universal and they’re OK. We all worry to a certain extent about being liked, or at least being likeable. But what I’m learning, and what I believe many of us would benefit from understanding, is that walls come down when we allow ourselves to be, well…ourselves.

Can I say that last piece again?

Walls come down when we allow ourselves to be ourselves.

This post was first published on September 19, 2014.

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22 Comments

  1. Steph

    “Walls come down when we allow ourselves to be ourselves.” So true! I find that while being myself may few turn a few extra people off to me, it’ll also turn allow me to connect better with those who I’ll really click with.

  2. Veggie Mama

    Take the other skin off! I like the real Brooke I met better 😀

  3. Amy @ Sunlit Pages

    Oh, I love this. I think we make our deepest connections when we let people see our weaknesses, our quirks, and our fears. There’s an appropriate time for all of this (I’m perfectly happy with my facade if I’m getting my hair cut, for example), but I certainly like my friends more and more as they let me see their messy house or hear their whining kids or see their tears. And I have to assume it’s the same for them, too.

    P.S. I fiercely protect my alone time as well!

  4. sonrie

    I’m just trying to figure out what an American accent is…. 🙂

    I am an introvert too, but most people I know would call me the opposite. I can blend well in a group, but really, give me a quiet evening by myself and I am the happiest. Perhaps the ability to adapt to a new surrounding or ‘switch’ into your true self is what is most surprising.

  5. Mary

    What a great piece. Thank you!

    You could have been describing me in that piece. I know my daughter reads this blog and I hope it will help her understand her “Mom” a little better.

  6. Katie Harding

    Awesome post, beautifully written, we ALL seek approval whether or not we admit to it. It’s hard to not be liked and it’s easy on the internet to put up a facade or keep everything at a surface level but when we open up in person and let our true selves out it’s amazing at how well received we can be.

  7. michelle t

    Thank you for this. Very meaningful. Michelle t

  8. Samantha Coon

    Love that I am not alone. It’s a lot easier in just being me than trying to be someone else’s version of me. Although, I have found that in stepping out, and into who I am has changed the kind of people around me. How about you? For me, it’s been a bit of a lonesome journey. But I believe on the other side of that wall I will find people who like me, being just me.

    Nice to meet you!

    Samantha

  9. Machele

    Wow, I feel like I could have wrote that myself!! Beautifully put, thank you!

  10. Brenda

    I wore a different “skin” when I was a student and then career woman. I was single, strong and outgoing…and felt alone even with others. Maybe that “skin” never felt quite right? Part was age I think, and part was insecurity. I felt a disconnect between how I was perceived and how I felt.

    I got married on the old side – we had kids, and I went through that insane loss of self that mothers can feel when they are so tired, and so needed. Now that mine are grown past that, and need me in a different way, I am trying to figure out who I am besides wife & mom. I know that I feel more vulnerable (in kind of a good way), and I found that I like being more in the background, but I am still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to injustice. I am a better friend, but I enjoy my solitude. I feel a bit all over the place as I keep evolving, lol.

  11. Kelly Exeter

    Oh no! What does it say about me that I really like and feel connected to the online you?! Maybe it’s just that I can see what’s there behind the wall 😉

  12. Laney Galligan

    Love you online and off. Neither experience is boring!

  13. Ariane

    As a female INTJ, I completely understand. When it comes to friendships with women i’m a disaster. I can pick up obvious emotions, but I’m very dense about the subtle ones (like men!) and often find myself angering other women for reasons i’m oblivious to. I’ve tried to change and understand over the years but it never ends well. Now I just embrace who I am (a logical, scientist type that prefers books to gossip/small talk) and I cherish the few women who can stand to be around me.

    “I protect my alone time fiercely and don’t react graciously when it’s taken away.” Love that. Me too!

  14. Andrew @ Project Fellowship

    Hey Brooke,

    Be Yourself is great advice. Would we really want someone to like a stitched persona that we had put together. Nope. Being your authentic self is the way to go especially in the pursuit of friendship.

  15. Alyson

    I love this one so much. Getting ready to start my own business and feeling insecure about it. The I remembered my confident self from age 17 when I “knew” everything and had lots of great friends who loved me for being myself. Trying to bring her back. May lose some friends in the process but the ones I really need/want will stick around. Feels so good to feel like myself again. Your words really resonated with me. Timing is everything. Thank you.

  16. Vanessa

    I ended up crying at work recently – I don’t really like that but it helped me see something and work through and forwards – so in the end it was hugely beneficial.

  17. Désirée Fawn

    This is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing <3 So freakin' spot on.

  18. amy

    This spoke to me so much! I feel like I’ve spent so much time trying to “fit in” — but it made me so boring! I feel like I was trying to dress and act like everyone else and I obviously couldn’t do “them” better than they could! It made me feel so inadequate. I finally looked around and realized that unique is special and I actually don’t want to be like everyone else, even if it were possible. It’s still hard not to compare — but this helps. 🙂 Thanks.

  19. Priya

    Love this and relate to this completely. I too get quite cranky when my me-time is compromised and I too have messy hair.

  20. Vanshita

    I read what you write regularly and agree with most of the stuff. I am a shy introvert suffering from borderline personality dis order but working hard to change myself. Still its heartening to know I am ok just the way I am.

    • Michael

      Hello everyone, I’m Michael and this is the first blog that I’ve ever participated in, Just feels right and the topic is most definitely made for me. I feel very comfortable here. I wasn’t aware of the smile i had until read the last post, thank you all for sharing. Just a little about myself, I grew up so painfully shy and insecure that It was emotionally crippling and was truly an agonizing existence, I wanted to be anyone but me, not that I had even an inkling of any concept of what being Me meant at all because I sure didn’t. So that’s why I was immediately drawn to this group, because this has been a life long plight so to speak and at the ripe old age of 60 I am so very happy to announce that I wouldn’t be anyone else but me! All of you told a piece of my story, thank you Tsh for being so refreshingly open, actually all of you. My life has been anything but boring to say the least. Maybe this sounds trite but I am so very grateful that I was graced with seeing who I am well maybe who I wasn’t is more accurate. I’m still amazed every at my acceptance of all of me, the good, the awkwardly quirky person, the person at times who thinks he knows everything and that part of me that I truly love who is the person who is just human in all my childlike innocent ignorance and who is so very endearing and sweet at times, It’s been a hell of long road lol. I have experienced my true hearts desire and that was to just be me just to be the person that I was meant to be. It’s wonderful!! I’m smiling as I write this to all of you. thanks again

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