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.
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?