Who Are You, Really?

Conversation

The most frequent comment I get from people who correspond to me is that the blog is “extremely personal”.  People enjoy the fact that I’m not setting myself up as some expert on the subjects of personal development and leadership, but that I just write from the heart about topics that I care about.  I’m just another traveler on the same journey as everyone else who reads this.

The funny thing is that I’m a fairly private person.  I definitely wouldn’t talk this much if we were together in real life.  I do tend to share a lot of things that I think and feel on this blog that I probably wouldn’t just tell you if we were talking face to face.

Is that a good thing?

Is the fact that so many people seem to appreciate that I “bare my soul” indicative of something more, or is it just curiosity?  Should I strive to share more of myself, not only with you readers, but with everyone whom I come into contact?

Can sharing more of who you are with the people around you help you in your personal development?  I think it can.

THE PROBLEM

People are social animals.  All of us need to be appreciated and understood for who we really are.  It’s just that who we really are is seldom seen by those people around us.

We tend to put up a front in all of our interactions with others.  Whether due to fear, or simply because we’ve been conditioned to do so, it’s hard for us to allow our true nature to come out.

I’ve known folks (I’m sure you have, as well) who act exactly as they feel.  It can be uncomfortable, can’t it?  If they’re naturally optimistic, cheery people, others describe them as fake and phony (irony!).  And, those who are cynical and irritable come off as jerks.

We who live in society have become so conditioned to people acting in a particular (often politically correct) way that any deviation from this norm bothers us.

But there are times when you want to quit lying, and to genuinely be who you are.  You want to make a personal connection with someone, without all the barriers in between.

How do we do it?

THE SOLUTION

You just do it.

You quit lying to yourself and to those around you about who you are on the inside.  You stop trying to fit in if you don’t.  You find a someone, or a group of someones, that allow you to be who you are.

But what about situations where it would be inappropriate to crack jokes, or get the giggles, or cry?  What if acting authentically could get you into trouble?  For example, don’t I need to “act professionally” in my business dealings?

First of all, those situations may be less frequent than you think.  You need to use your judgment to understand when those times are and when they aren’t.  You don’t have to assume it’s never a good time to let down your guard.

Secondly, there’s a difference between “acting professionally” and “being fake”.

Acting professionally falls under the umbrella of “things we do to live together in a society”.  If this means you need to tone down the part of you that’s offensive to other people (for whatever reason), so be it.  Save those times for when you’re around people who appreciate that side of you.  Or, just let it all hang out and see what kinds of people you attract.  You’ll drive some folks away, but there are others who will find your honesty refreshing and will be drawn to you more than they would otherwise.

Being fake is presenting the appearance of what you think other people want to see.  It’s about doing things you don’ t like or wouldn’t normally do to impress people you don’t even care about.  Being fake is hard work.

THE RESULT

It’s much easier to begin to allow yourself the freedom to be who you are.  If there are certain things that you’ve always done only because that’s what you’re “supposed to do”, then quit doing them.

One thing you must know is this: people aren’t going to flock to you because you’ve decided to be authentic.  Who you really are will bother or offend some people.  If you’re doing something important, you’ll gain some enemies (or at least you’ll find some people who really don’t like you).

The important thing is to provoke strong emotional responses in the people with whom you come in contact.  People will either love you or hate you, rather than allowing you to just float through their lives as another nameless face in a crowd of fakeness.

A big part of personal development is helping other people.  By taking a stand and being who you are, you will begin to meet people that you can impact positively.

I don’t have the right voice to help everyone I come into contact with.  But, someone I help may be able to help someone that I can’t.  What this personal development journey is all about is doing what you can to become a better person, and making a difference in the lives of others because of that.

Ed. Note: Liz Strauss, over at her great blog, www.successful-blog.com, wrote a great post that’s related to this one.  Not that she got inspiration from this (I’m fairly sure she’s not a reader here), but I think she had a lot to say about honesty in writing and interaction that should be shared.  So, go check it out!

What are some of the situations, people, or other issues in your life that keep you from acting authentically?  What can you do to overcome them?  Let us know in the comments…

Photo courtesy: Search Engine People Blog

8 thoughts on “Who Are You, Really?”

  1. Absolutely… Our lives would be nothing if we couldn't interact with another soul. My biggest challenge is most people seem to want to keep a certain distance. I am the one feeling offended by the simple fact that I open up the friendship door and they hang around in my life at arms length. It is difficult to make a genuine connection when we keep running into people that put conditions on us. Perhaps I should keep letting it be known and move on. Next! But it seems some people really can connect with masses of people. How is that?

    I find the truth in someones heart more beautiful than anything (even if it's an ugly truth). Being fake has GOT to be hard work.

    Looking, looking for kindred spirits in an ocean filled with blank faces!

    1. It's definitely a two way street, Robin. You've very right in saying that a lot of people keep up their guard even when you drop your's. I'll be interested to see if there are some folks who've learned to overcome that!

  2. i usually act like myself. im this silly bubbly person but i just entered a new school and i dont know my freinds well enough to act silly or dumb or hyper or weird…i have to know them more. basically im just shy….

  3. What if i am all of those? I am cheery, mostly optimistic, on the other hand i am irritable and cynical and to the point very blunt and can be short with people, It is very difficult to be appropriate for me because i don't necessarily subscribe to political correctnes (its going to be the death of us) so i tend to be the inappropriate one at the dinner table of a formal event talking about a really "interesting" documentary i watched on autopsies while people are eating (apparently some peoples constitution are more delicate than others) i would see nothing wrong with this line of conversation while eating but i might be the only one who thinks so because everyone else the the table is looking at me like i just farted. I am constantly having to "check myself at the door so-to-speak and it frustrates me, which means i won't contribute much. How do i resolve this without feeling im losing my religion(soul). Or do i just say screw it and leave everyone pissed?

    1. It's a toss-up for you, Kadia. You know (obviously) what you could do to fit in, but you don't feel like you need to do that. If you're happy with having other people look at you like you farted, then it's not an issue. Of course, if you're deliberately antagonizing people, or trying to stir up trouble, that's something different. However, if you're just being you and some folks don't get it, then it's their problem. You only need to adjust who you are to the extent that you feel the need to conform. If you're okay with rubbing some people the wrong way and maybe missing out on certain experiences (whatever those may be) because of it, then just keep on keepin' on. Thanks for commenting!

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