One would think a person of my age would have life all figured out. Surprise, I do not. Approximately Six months ago, I decided to start living an authentic life. I guess I could probably say the process started long before that, but 6 months ago was when I really decided to jump in with both feet and trust where God was leading me. I guess I always thought I had been authentic and felt I was a person of integrity. Integrity meaning someone who is honest in all situations, even when no one is watching. However, what I realized is that I wasn’t being honest with myself and I was suppressing deeper parts of who I am. I was becoming more miserable, confused and lonely as each day passed. I found myself living to make everyone else happy except myself. Approximately a year ago, I found myself with no voice, realized I had suppressed many key traits of my personality, was controlled by others and felt like I had no future. I’ve been a private person too and have developed through a lifetime of difficult experiences a mechanism to shut off and out things and people who cause pain. Picture a cave in which I could retreat and a large metal gate I could slam shut where I would not be accessible to anyone. I cut and run and shut out and move on. With this mechanism in place, not too many people, if any, knew the full extent of the pain I felt. I became good at smiling and laughing despite the pain. I finally got to a point where I experienced my first episode of depression ever in my life. I found myself in a place where I found no reason to continue in life and felt no one would even notice I was missing. I was unsure where to turn because shoot…I work in an office with mental health and loads of people with depression. I should be above depression…I can’t ask for help! I struggled with feeling like a misfit and scared of judgment. I felt if I admitted I was struggling with depression I would look less than or be a failure and be found conquered by life. For a warrior that I truly am, being defeated is not an option. It took the lowest day in my life and being found by someone who I believed at the time to be a good friend (who later betrayed me), scoop me up and helped me to realize just how depressed I was. Depression is real and seeking help doesn’t mean you are less than. It means you love yourself and you want to be better because you are of worth. If you are one who is struggling with depression, please seek help. Please know you are worth the help and there are many ways to receive it. I now am doing so much better and reaching goals of great magnitude, though there still are days I need a hug.
So what is living an authentic life? It is letting go of others’ expectations and having the courage to live life without fear of rejection. It is truly living a life of integrity. So Jan 2017, I began a journey of learning more about myself, taking leaps into unfamiliar territory. In these past 6 months, I have learned so much about myself and what makes me happy. I have learned that I have fears I never knew I had. I have learned that I have lived with regret, disappointment, and experiences that have been disabling but now am learning how to conquer and defeat these. I have been fearfully, but courageously conquering large barriers and sifting out things and people in my life whom do not support my authentic self. As I have done this, I have noticed that I attract people who also are striving to live authentic lives too. I often have people come up in stores or other places that see my happiness and my authentic self and are attracted to this and start talking to me about the sparkle and happiness they see. I have gained more friends in the last 6 months than I have in a long time. Not just friends, but friends who also are solid, authentic people. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by great people – good friends. I feel so blessed to be moving in the right direction and taking each day as it comes. I am getting so much better at standing up for myself and being blessed by being surrounded by those who nurture me. I did not look for this road, but God placed it in front of me and have placed the people on it. I know this because I felt at one point as if I was thrown over the shoulder of someone running in the opposite direction of everything that was familiar. I’m in very unfamiliar territory, but it’s good. I continue to grow and learn and that feels good. When I find myself going to the cave and shutting the metal door, I make myself reopen it and step out into the clear air; maybe a bit frightened but still opening the gate and stepping out. I’ll admit sometimes it takes a good friend to coax me out (thanks, sweet friend). The process of living an authentic life is not easy, but worth it. You will find that the people that enter your life perfectly fit in your life.
Take the time to sit with yourself and evaluate – are you living your authentic life? If not, why? The payoff is worth the efforts.