A year ago, my dad went through the lengthy process of transferring our home videos from VHS tapes to DVDs. I was living at home at the time, and found myself captivated by the seemingly endless stream of videos of me and my sisters playing dress-up, performing plays, and showing off our pet rabbits. At one point, I appeared on the screen as my cute 6-year old self, earnestly singing, “Part of Your World,” from The Little Mermaid. People who knew me as a child knew I was obsessed with this song, as I would sing it for anyone who would listen. I was actually pretty good, too!
Yet…I felt really uncomfortable watching my younger self express herself in such a confident and heartfelt way. It felt almost painful to watch. At first it seemed like a strange reaction to have, until I dug a little deeper. I realized that just a few years after the video was taken, I stopped singing for other people. I became incredibly self-conscious, and simply decided it was safer to hide than to risk other people judging me, or even giving me too much positive attention. I dimmed my own inner light, because I felt it was safer to blend in.
And now, at 28 years old, I am slowly peeling off the layers of protection I thought I had to wear for so long, unraveling years of hiding my true self and my brilliance, and regaining the courage to simply be myself.
Even if that means I stand out from the crowd.
Even if it makes me feel vulnerable.
Even if it’s scary.
Because I know that I don’t want to live a life where I live in fear of being who I am meant to be. I don’t want to hold back the gifts and talents that I long to give, and get to the end of my life full of regrets and wondering what in the world I was so afraid of.
None of us came here to fit into a mold, or to learn how to be more like someone else. We came here to simply be ourselves. Each of us has this amazingly unique combination of gifts, skills and experiences that no one else on earth possesses. It is truly a disservice to everyone when we hold back from expressing our authentic selves and sharing these gifts…because no one else could ever do it like we can.
So often we’re afraid that we won’t be accepted or loved when we show our true, weirdly wonderful selves to the world. But the paradox is, those who are courageous enough to show the world their true selves are the people that we admire most. A good example of this are singers like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, who are fearlessly their true, wacky selves…think meat dresses and giant cat costumes. Yet these women have some of the most loyal and devoted fans in the world. There is a part of us that resonates so deeply with people when they are being authentic. The light within us, no matter how much we have dimmed it, will recognize and be moved by the light shining from others.
I invite you to look at your own life and ask yourself, where you are holding back your brilliance, dimming your own beautiful light? How can you begin living more fully as yourself? Trust me, we will all benefit when you do.