In the recent weeks, I have had multiple conversations rooted in the ideas of self-confidence, transparency, and being true to oneself. I would argue that dependent on the generation, the culture, and the mindset you are brought up in, that you were not taught about the power of defining yourself. You were not taught the importance of creating YOUR OWN IDENTITY and embracing YOUR INDIVIDUALITY. You were not exposed to the latter either because it did not exist in your environment, or you actively chose to never seek it yourself. Although many things can be linked or attributed to identity and individuality, my primary focus always comes back to character: the code of conduct and belief system which directs your life.
What’s Impeding You
Many of us never truly define ourselves because we allow expectations and emotions to anchor us down. We do not want to disappoint our parents, friends, coaches, coworkers, congregation, etc. Things become further complicated when we realize that just as the above is important to us, so is the desire to feel happy and secure within our own skin. Needless to say, the previous dynamic causes an internal struggle within oneself. That struggle manifests itself in real time, when we actively pick and choose what which face, we want to show the world, depending on the environment we are in at any given moment. I personally struggled with this phenomenon for a vast majority of my life, and still have remnants that pay a surprise visit occasionally. I spent a decade and a half of my life trying to please others (people who do not even know who they are), at the expense of my happiness. I am sure you have wasted a considerable amount of time dealing with the same struggle as well.
Which begs the questions: If you know this internal struggle dynamic is shaking your life at its core, why are you not doing anything to change it? Would you prefer to be merely satisfied, or genuinely happy? Would you prefer for the exterior world to love who you are not, at the expense of self-hatred? Or would you prefer being hated by the exterior world for who you are, at the expense of self-love? Are pleasing others and feeling comfortable in our own skins mutually exclusive concepts? Can a balance between the two be achieved?
What Impeded Me
My childhood led to the development of huge chips on my shoulders. Some I have embraced, and have made the choice to keep, because they have fueled my personal growth and development. The only constant biological family member I had in my life was my father, as I was separated from my mother at a young age, and she passed before I had the chance to formally meet her as an adult. My paternal and maternal extended family were scattered throughout the United States and the Caribbean, and as such were essentially non-existent. As a result, an inherited epigenetic shoulder chip from my father revealed itself: I felt like I needed to prove myself to him because he was the only family I had. The way that need manifested itself in my subjective reality as I was growing up, was that if I did not make my father proud, I was not worthy of receiving his love.
I felt this subjective reality was my true unequivocal reality, because my love language and that of my father seemingly lacked a point of convergence. Like all human beings, my father had life traumas that haunted him. As my father was a proud man from an older generation, his ego kept him from dealing with said traumas. Unfortunately, this led to the creation of an unemotional love language that unintentionally isolated him from his loved ones. There is no doubt in my mind that my father loved me, given the ownership he took of raising and caring for me. By all accounts, my father was proud of me and my achievements. However, he seldom vocalized those emotions to me. When vocalized, they were usually expressed at highly inopportune moments, rendering the feelings perceptibly ingenuine.
My father’s inability to successfully navigate his emotions and portray love compassionately to a child that did not know how to navigate his emotions either, left an emotional fissure within me with more to be desired. It is here where the subjective shoulder chip previously described gained traction, and my negative self-narrative emerged. For the longest time, I repeated the following phrase to myself: “It doesn’t matter how hard you work your ass off John, he will never genuinely tell you that he’s proud of what you have accomplished. Therefore, don’t think you’ll ever gain the emotional satisfaction of love.” The reality is that the latter narrative was not true. My personal introspection, and my understanding of my father’s life experience, allowed me to see the truth: He was a human being like any other, who was either scared to or did not know how to deal with suffered traumas in his life. What I later learned on my own however, is that the fissure I once saw as a curse, was actually a blessing in disguise. It made me realize something that a vast majority of people do not realize until their deathbed: With the grace of God, I am in control of my life.
Throughout my Intruistic journey, I have come to realize how my upbringing set me up to successfully be unapologetically me. I like to believe that from a very young age, I have had a grounded ethical, moral, and legal compass that is refined daily by life experiences, and the new knowledge I seek. I have defined my code of conduct and belief system, and actively seek to live my life based on principle and stoicism. I have begun to truly embrace my humanity and my vulnerability as a man. I have shifted my mentality from wins and losses, to blessings and lessons. I have begun to cease the conscious seeking of external validation, and fervently prefer to self-validation. Most importantly, I have stopped lying to myself. I appreciate my strengths, while candidly acknowledging and accepting my weaknesses. I am an Intruist that is on an indefinite path of personal growth and development, who seeks to live a righteous life with no regrets, and who does not need anyone’s permission to walk the straight path he’s on. You do not need to like me; I just ask that you respect me. I love and respect myself, and that is enough for me. I encourage and challenge you to adopt the latter mentality. If these lines do not inspire you to give yourself the permission to live life righteously on your terms, consider the following:
Three of the Top Five Regrets
In 2012, Australian author Bronnie Ware published a book titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.” Mrs. Ware wrote the book based on the testimonies gathered throughout her palliative career.
Three of the most common regrets the departed shared were : 1) I wish I had the courage to live life true to myself, and not the life others expected of me; 2) I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings; 3) I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Call to Action
By now, I hope that you have taken some inventory of yourself and started to question some of the things that are keeping you from living YOUR life to its full potential. The beauty of the world is that we all belong to a unified human tribe, that derives its strength from the grounded individuals that comprise it. Do not let fear keep you from bringing a light into this world that only you can bring. You CAN be unapologetically you AND live a life of service for the people you care about. Below you will find a list of three reasons why you should NEVER seek to conceal your righteous true self, and embrace who you are:
You Create an Independent Identity
Genuinely embracing your true self, will enable you to separate yourself from the pack. Most people will never show their true self to the world, because they are too busy fearing that they will be judged for who they really are. News flash: You’re going to be judged anyways. You know where the judgment comes from? People who do not have the courage to stand up for themselves, because they are afraid of their own shadow. They judge you, because it distracts them for the reality that they lack the fortitude to take ownership of their existence. The minute you stop thinking about what others think about you, is the minute you begin to take control of your life. Your mindset shifts to that of a person that is focused on self-actualization: A person who takes the time to explore oneself, and develops confidence in knowing, accepting, and loving who they are, where they came from, what they stand for, and the positive legacy their talents and abilities will leave in the world.
Allows Transparency to Eclipse Superficial Acceptance
Genuinely embracing your true self, will enable you to lead with and seek transparency in all aspects of your life. Transparency is the ability to be candid: being straightforward and honest without reservation. Unadulterated authentic transparency is rare, although people demand honesty and transparency in every part of their life. Ironically, studies have shown that 60% of people lie during a typical 10-minute conversation, in order to appear more like-able and competent. The findings came from Robert Feldman who is a Psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, who has studied lying for more than a decade. If such a big chunk of society is so willing to lie to be accepted by others, imagine the number of people you know that are in “loving/meaningful” platonic or romantic relationships.
How many people do you think are honest with themselves? If you cannot truly appreciate yourself and your imperfections, how can you ever expect to truly appreciate another imperfect human being? Allowing yourself and others to become enamored with a fake you, will only serve to sabotage your desire to create meaningful relationships. Why not embrace your true self, and allow yourself to attract like-minded individuals? Why not build a meaningful social circle of people who appreciate who you really are, and who will be proud of being a part of your life? Why not be surrounded by people whose character is based on transparency, integrity, and accountability, and who will hold you to the same moral standard that you hold yourself?
Gives Your Life Purpose and Direction
English fiction writer Lewis Carroll penned one of my favorite quotes: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Without a destination, do you even know what direction you are headed in? Better yet, if self-love and self-acceptance are non-existent in your life, can you ever truly find your purpose in life? Will you ever truly be able to discover why you were put on this Earth? You must realize that everything in your life begins and ends with you. Whether you would like to admit it or not, your reality is both consciously and unconsciously controlled by who and how you perceive yourself to be. If you view yourself in a positive light, you will find a purpose aligned with that vision, and actively head in that direction. The same can be said negatively. Your purpose is rooted in finding yourself, loving yourself, and living a righteous life like only you know how.
You will never cease to evolve as a human being. Time never stops, and as such you are either progressing or digressing. You and I will never be perfect, nor should we strive to be because it is an unachievable goal. However, you and I have the ability to reverence our imperfect nature, and find serenity within our essence via benevolence. We have the ability to define ourselves, not by the traumas and experiences we have survived, but by the righteously grounded lessons and principles that we extrapolated from them. No matter where you go, obstacles will be sure to follow. Do not let yourself be one of them! Have the courage to live life true to yourself, and not the life that others expect of you. Have the courage to express your feelings. Have the courage to allow yourself to be happy. I believe in you. Now it is time you begin to do so too, and “Be Unapologetically You.” If you need help in starting your Intruistic journey, check out some of my previous content here. For further resources, inspiration, and motivation, click here.
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Seize the day, seize your life, and we will seize our communal tribe together!