Are you completely comfortable in your own skin, no matter what? Would you believe me if I told you that I was born completely confident being me? That’s a laugh; of course, that is not true. It takes work to be self-assured.
I have been ‘myself’ for the most part: an outgoing person who enjoys being around her friends and family and who loves to travel. Those aspects are all true.
Admittedly, there was always a part of myself I kept really close to my heart – my love for writing. I rarely introduced people to Patti the writer, storyteller, and poet. Outgoing, chatty me was also introverted and needed alone time to gather my thoughts to connect with my raw emotions. I found it so easy to hide behind my love for sports and being active.
Why? It was safer.
Sharing my innermost thoughts with people was the most nauseating feeling because I feared how my writing would be received. So, I played small, privately writing and saving everything either as a hard copy or in files on my laptop.
How did I break out and start showing up? Through personal growth work.
I connected with my good friend and mentor Belinda Ginter, who is an incredible Emotional Kinesiologist. I wanted to get to a place where I was perfectly comfortable with being completely, unapologetically me. We all have something that holds us back from being who we truly are. We’re all human, right?
A pretty great thing happened. I decided to start showing up. How? By recognizing my hidden talent of writing as the spark that ignites my inner power.
Was it life changing? Absolutely.
There is typically a pivotal moment that gets the ball rolling, creating momentum for change. Going back to a January afternoon in 2020, Belinda invited me to a group-training weekend she was hosting the following month to teach the Emotional Wellness Technique. She explained that learning this approach would complement my existing skill set. I was intrigued and fascinated by how she had the ability to guide me to finding my own solutions to get out of my own way.
Ironically, my response was to hesitate: “Leave it with me.” I gave it some thought over a couple of days, then spoke to my husband who encouraged me to go. The following day I told Belinda, “I’m in.”
That weekend was a game changer. I met the most incredible group of women from Canada and the United States. We were all on different paths, but needed to learn this method and incorporate it in our respective businesses. All these women were entrepreneurs.
Something shifted in me that weekend. I finally had the courage to let people see the other side of me that I had kept so well hidden. As Brené Brown would say, “I stepped into the arena.” I chose to be vulnerable.
What did I do? I began focusing on creating projects that I wanted to bring to the world, particularly writing my memoir. This story is one that I have been working on for years. I have a binder filled with all of my thoughts and ideas of how I wanted to help people through my experience with grief and loss. I realized that I have intimate knowledge surrounding such a delicate topic that should be shared. I have an opportunity to help someone who may be going through a similar experience.
I put my big girl pants on and got to work. That project is still in progress.
As a bonus, I found that I have been able to better support my children as they navigate their own sense of self. Every time that I have encouraged them to be themselves and recognize their talents, they couldn’t argue with me about it because I was leading by example.
My youngest daughter is nine. She came home from school one day and asked, “Can you test my body? Something’s bugging me and I’m not too sure what it is.” After pinpointing the area of her body and emotion attached to it, I asked her if she could think of the cause for her feeling. She figured it out and told me about a situation that involved her close friend and two other girls.
The other girls were making her friend choose between playing with my daughter or them. As a result, my daughter was being excluded. She said, “They just want to be CCPs!” I had no idea what she was talking about so I asked her, “What is a CCP?” Her response – cute, cool, and popular. At that moment I thought, “Wow, competing for popularity status in Grade 4!”
I asked her if being ‘CCP’ was important to her? She replied, “No, I like being myself.”
The joy I felt when I heard this told me I had a parenting win! I asked her, “Who did your friend decide to play with?” She explained that her friend chose to play with her because she was allowed to be herself in my daughter’s company.
Think about it. If nine and ten-year-olds are stressed out about being themselves, how do you think this will affect them when they’re teenagers and adults? Conformity is safer with a higher chance of acceptance. Bottom line, it’s risky to be yourself. Keeping up appearances is not how I want my kids to live their lives. It’s my job to reinforce self-acceptance.
I looked at my daughter and said, “The hardest thing for you right now is to be yourself. I know that you are strong enough to do it. You have the ability to help your friends to be themselves, all it takes is one person to create change.”
I love this quote from Maya Angelou, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be.”
I encourage each and every one of you to have the bravery to get real, be who you truly are and love every inch of yourself.