ISSUE NO.8 | AUGUST 2016
Express Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
--Marianne Williamson, Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
Living my life in alignment with God and who He created me to be has given me the grace to express myself boldly, fearlessly, and with purpose.
Lost & Found
I used to be so insecure about what I wore, the things I said, and the things I did. I was fearful of how I would be received, and it felt safest to be discrete and keep quiet. As much as I didn't want others to think less of me, I also didn't want them to feel threatened or intimidated by me. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I was routinely picked on for being the shy, quiet girl, and it ate me alive on the inside. I had so much to say, I always knew the answer in class, always had an opinion in discussions, but never raised my hand, never said a word.
Repression equals depression, and anxiety is sure to follow.
In college, I turned to drinking and partying as a means to squash my anxiety, mask my timid nature, and ultimately, "better express myself." Being loud doesn't equal being heard. I had puffed up my ego with a false sense of confidence. Who was I kidding? I wasn't growing--I was shrinking. I came to the realization that I had virtually lost who I really was, and for that I am thankful.
Realizing that we're lost gives us the opportunity to be found.
Be Authentic. Be Transparent. Trust Yourself
The moment I decided to be authentic and transparent in my self-expression, the more fulfilled I became. The other night, Dusty and I were talking about the conscious decisions and awareness that we put into our clothing choices, hairstyles, and the way we that we carry ourselves. We came to the conclusion that taking pride in appearance is not always vain, and walking with confidence does not defy humility.
Personal style goes beyond the wardrobe, to the way we walk and talk, to the thoughts and beliefs we harbor.
True personal style is less about external attention, and more about internal expression.
I certainly don't claim to be an expert on the topic, but it would be a selfish shame to keep these gems of wisdom that have helped me, all to myself.
Here are three steps that I have found useful in helping to express myself more authentically:
1. Think Outside the Box
Literally, turn off the tv, disconnect from devices, do away with the magazines and catalogs. Challenge yourself to a digital/media detox. I've found that the less I engage in watching mindless tv shows littered with brainwashing commercials or page through gossip magazines filled with airbrushed models, the happier I become. Social pressures and comparisons can impact our self-image, and ultimately sway the way we think, speak, dress, and act.
We should all get more comfortable with defying social norms, not for the sake of being obnoxious, but in an attempt to be in better alignment with ourselves. One way I do this is by being proud of being vegan/plant-based, and not conforming just because I'm too embarrassed to say what I want at a restaurant with friends. Maybe it means wearing what resonates with and compliments you, rather than trying to replicate the latest trend.
2. Do the Internal Work
Prayer, meditation, and just plain silence are highly underrated. When we cut down on the external noise, comparisons and harsh judgements of ourselves will begin to fade. Getting quiet and still allows us to better listen to our deepest desires. A book that I highly recommend is Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, by Marshall Rosenburg. A piece of advice he gives for determining if something we're doing is worthwhile, and true to who we are, is to say the following: "I choose to __ because I want __." Many times, we aren't even aware of WHY we are doing WHAT we are doing. Get clear about the why, and if it's not serving you, rework it, change your perspective on it, or eliminate it all together.
3. Be Bold. Be Brave. Be You
Once we've cut down on the external noise, gotten quiet and listened to our internal needs, the last step is to STEP UP! Be bold and unafraid to express yourself! Sharing my experiences and ideas via social media is one way that I enjoy expressing myself authentically. Much of the time it's scary to say how we feel or stand up for what we believe, but when we share who we truly are, we experience fulfillment. Sometimes I receive positive feedback from others, and that makes me feel fantastic! However, when we get used to sharing who we truly are, the greater reward comes from within rather than from external praise and acceptance. Others' opinions and perceptions of us will vary, but when we are serving God by being completely and wholly who He made us to be, we will never be left empty or lost.
We are serving an audience of One!
Internal Expression Over External Attention