What was your journey to being your authentic self?
I feel that I am always and will always be on this journey. When I was younger, I often compared myself to others, and wanted to be accepted. As I got older and had more experiences – both successes and failures, I became more resilient and began to trust myself that no matter what happened I would eventually get through it and be okay. I have now reached the point where I am much more at peace with myself and I make sure that my friends and any job or activity I do is with people and places that accept and embrace who I am.
What are some ways to be yourself?
First, getting to know yourself is key. Try new things and pay attention to what you like or are interested in, and what makes you feel a spark. I loved theater, singing, traveling, reading, etc. and gained in my confidence by doing them. I also recommend stretching yourself – taking on leadership opportunities helped me to learn a lot about myself and about others and was a way for me to challenge myself. If you don’t try something, you don’t know how far you can go.
What are some challenges someone may face by being their authentic self?
For me, a big challenge was insecurity and social awkwardness – I wanted to be accepted so much that I would either worry about how I should try to fit in, or if I was fully expressing myself I might later think back critically over everything I said or did in an interaction. That feeling was so uncomfortable that I sometimes wanted to avoid social situations so I didn’t have to feel that way. I’d say it takes practice – the more comfortable you can get with discomfort, you can push through those times where you are insecure, and that can help you to gain confidence. Also, paying attention to the people and places that make you feel accepted and that you belong – what is it about those that work for you, and to keep finding places and people like that and to replicate that and pay it forward for others whenever you can.
How were you able to be yourself in the face of adversity?
I take time to think about my values – the good I want to be and provide for others, and I stick to those no matter what is happening around me. I strive to take responsibility for what I say and do always.
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