On Becoming My Full Self

This is a post that’s been whirling around my head since I was in treatment.

For the first 36 years of my life, I was playing the role of myself—I was not myself. I was who I thought my family wanted me to be. Who I thought friends wanted me to be. Who I thought society wanted me to be. Who I thought you, reading this, wanted me to be.

I was so afraid that the real me wouldn’t be accepted by anyone. I read criticism about myself and tried to write so that anyone reading would like me.

One, you’re never going to be liked by everyone. (You’re not a taco.)

Two, if you’re trying to be liked by everyone, you probably don’t like yourself.

And I didn’t like myself for quite some time. It’s still a process.

I diminished anything I ever accomplished. I downplayed this blog, ashamed of it, even though I once had a decent following. I have less of a following than I used to because I became so afraid to show myself, especially as I became depressed—and it just became a vicious cycle.

Fear of others’ opinions caused me to live a small life, contorting to be who I thought I should be. Regrets, I have a few…

I wish I hadn’t held myself back with all those self-limiting thoughts.

Recently, I heard Kate Speer, CEO of The Dogist on this podcast episode. “If I don’t show the full me,” she said, “then you’re not liking me for me—you’re liking what I project.”

So, sure, this is social media—I’ll never be sharing all of myself online, none of us do. But I’m working on showing up more authentically both online and IRL as my full self.

My full self can be really freaking intense. And I have a sense of humor that vacillates between incredibly dry and incredibly immature. I have never met a “that’s what she said” joke I didn’t like. My full self may come off as standoffish, because I’m so afraid to say the wrong thing, and I’m really uncomfortable receiving heartfelt compliments. (I’m excellent at accepting compliments about superficial things…like my hair. I’ll accept that compliment happily for days.)

My full self also has a ginormous heart. Once I let you into my life, I let you all the way in. You are part of my family. I feel things incredibly deeply, for better or worse. I want you to feel included. I want to connect everyone (at my mom’s wake, I was so insistent on making sure all my friends met each other).

The first time I tried out California last fall, I didn’t move here at first because I was afraid of what people in my life would say. Once my treatment therapist and I worked on me living for myself, I was ready to step into my own life.

I may be embarking on another big life transition soon, and I’ve been scared what you’ll think. What people in my life will think. But at the end of the day, it’s my life and something I think that will change it in a really meaningful way for me.

To paraphrase Ms. Brene Brown, I’m letting go of who I think I’m supposed to embrace who I am. I deserve to. (And so do you.) Take it or leave it. Maybe this new Theodora isn’t for you. That’s fine.

What’s something about yourself you haven’t embraced yet and how can you start to embrace it?

26 comments on “On Becoming My Full Self

  1. Lisa

    My main one is that at work I pretend to struggle with money like everyone else. I work at a school part time. Obviously being an educator, I am not paid well. Same goes for my colleagues. My family has a lot of money. My dad died and I inherited a lot of that money. I continue to live how I lived before. I mean we have a nice house and a nice, safe car and my daughter is spoiled beyond belief (but like with books and dresses…not with expensive stuff). I pretend to be like everyone else my age because how else can I be? I know you come from money as well. I feel like I spend a lot of time either pretending like I’m not rich or apologizing for being rich.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      This comment resonates a *lot* with me. I try to be—and hope this comes across here too—cognizant of being incredibly lucky for what I have, luckier than most, while also hopefully being relatable. And I’m sorry you’ve lost a parent, too <3

  2. Allison

    I’ve been reading/following you for a long time and always silently rooting for you. I saw a lot of myself in what you said here, so I figured I would let you know I’ve been here, rooting for you, and I am genuinely happy to hear that you’re living your life and finding your self and your happiness.

  3. Kayla

    I can definitely relate, I’ve spent much of my life trying to fit into some mold of how I’m “supposed” to be, or making decisions based on how others would perceive me. I’m still working on always showing up as my authentic, real, self. And this shit is hard.

    Love you so much

  4. Erin Harris

    I can’t remember exactly the year I started reading your blog, but it had to be 2011 or before. We’re the same age and I feel this post so much. I with my own challenges through these years have grown into more of my authentic self than ever before. I am soooo excited to see you doing the same. I can’t wait for you to share even more of yourself with us! Xo

  5. Heidi

    I see a lot of myself in this post. I’ve always struggles with fears that hold me back. For a while now I’ve wanted to leave LA and move back east where I’m from. Whenever I mention this to friends they gasp. “how can you not want to live here?!” Is what I always hear. I love LA but it’s expensive and on fire and I’d like to retire some day. But I always agree with my friends and think yeah I guess I should love it here.

    I think you’re very brave and looking forward to what your new transition is.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      There’s a John Updike quote: “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” And for years, that was what I felt—until I really didn’t. And that’s what a lot of my friends still feel, and that’s fine for them, but just wasn’t for me any more.

      It’s totally OK to outgrow a city, especially if you want to move back to where you’re from.

      It did take a lot of bravery for me to move out here, but also some of the stars aligning in a way that I could move (being able to afford to, freelancing, being single—nothing was tying me down) and some naivete. I definitely thought it would be easier than it was. I know a lot of people, for sure, but I miss those really deep connections…that my therapist reminds me only come with time.

  6. Cait

    Yess!! I relate to this so much. I’ve worked through a LOT the past few years (divorce, anxiety, depression, terrible body image, intense shame, etc.) It was been a struuuggle. But, I am at such a better place now, for the first time in my life. It’s exciting. And I’m so glad to hear you’re getting to that place, too 🙂

  7. Katie Glendening

    I think you are awesome and I wish you the best no matter where life takes you. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing with strangers. Your courage is inspiring. ❤️❤️

  8. Heidi

    Well done on working so hard to be happy and facing your challenges. I don’t really relate at all, but I have read your blog for many years and the fact that I feel so invested / care shows that you are doing a fantastic job of speaking out. The fact that you are sharing your struggles to help others and educate those of us who aren’t in the same place is something you should be proud of. Good luck, I am intrigued by what you have going on next!

  9. Catherine

    I continue to be so incredibly proud of you and all that you have accomplished! You are a fierce, brave, warrior of a human being and I am so grateful I get to call you friend! <3

  10. El

    I have been reading for a while… I even said hi to you at a race one time. I never comment but this post resonated with me a lot. All I want to say is good for you!! I am excited to see where life takes you next.

  11. Tara

    I have been a silent follower/reader who has been rooting for you (and jealous you had the guts to up and move to CA, bravo!! from a New England girl!).
    I too, worry soo much what others think, I really hide who I am by being generic and then when I am comfortable with you, I let my wild, unfiltered me out. I wish I could be someone who does not GAF and be my silly, crazy self at all times. I am getting better at this, although work is where I feel the most uncomfortable-afraid to let them see me, as though I may come across as ‘unprofessional’ even though I kick ass at my skills… Keep going, keep working on being you. I cannot wait to see who we meet xoxoxoxoxo

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Oh, I hear all of this and being afraid of being taken less seriously if you’re more yourself at work.

      And I’m working on letting the silly self out more—for so long, I mostly let it out with alcohol, but it’s still under there sober 🙂

  12. Haley

    I love this and think you are incredibly brave to share. Like others I’ve been silently cheering for you! I’m glad you’re publishing more so we get to read more!

  13. Heather

    I know others have said this, but I also think it can’t hurt to say it again: you are not alone! I’ve really appreciated reading your blog because you’ve been candid about your struggle, and, in turn, that’s helped me accept my own. So, for what it’s worth, know that your blog and your struggle has helped at least one person. As everyone else has said, I’m rooting for you!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.