I was listening to women's empowerment coach, Connie Chapman, talk about how we wear masks to hide aspects of ourselves. That's not a new topic for me. Most of my adult life I've been checking in with myself to see if I'm being true to me. It shows up in leaving full-time corporate work to start two of my own businesses, in being a poet and artist which allow me to examine and express my truth, in my religions practices, in what I say "yes" and "no" to, in the boundaries I set, in my day-to-day choices,
Yet, there was a different level of truth I uncovered when I began to seriously think about the masks I wear and create a list of them! I'm quick to hide what I consider to be my emotional messiness, my neediness, my vulnerability, my roller coaster, my moods, my selfishness, my anxiety, my fears, my sensitivity, my uncertainty, my anger, my demands and expectations (which often are cover-ups of my insecurities). I want people to see me only as put together, grounded, wise, giving, generous, zen, emotionally mature. I pride myself on how I want people to see me. I reject the parts of me that I think are "too much" and "extra."
What I'm learning (light bulb moment!) is that if I'm to live my life authentically, I have to accept the less than perfect parts of me too -- the parts that I am embarrassed about because somehow I took on the belief that they are unloveable. I have to hold space for all of me and recognize that to love is to not judge. No one is perfect and I'm only harming myself when there are parts of my personality that I deem "less than."
When I think about self-love and acceptance, I'm finding it means taking responsibility for my messiness but also loving myself because of it. The parts that we deny are what's needing our love and embrace the most.
I have friends who see the cracks in my mask. They've seen me cry from having my heart hurt. They've seen me be less than gracious with others when I've had a tough day. I even have one friend who has seen all my broken pieces (God, bless him). He handles it well, mostly, but the truth is, he shouldn't have to. Not without me showing him my well of beauty, which exists just as well.
Being authentic means being true to yourself and living in alignment. It doesn't mean throwing your baggage and fears onto others expecting them to heal you. It means saying, "This is who I am -- all of me," and loving yourself...enough.
I think in our society and culture, it's challenging to be exactly who you are. Maybe this is especially so for women and even more so for Black women. I'm not sure. But I know for me, so much of the lessons I am now having to unlearn -- like, always be polite and make space for others, make sure you're always at your best (which is more than everyone else's best), give more than you take, etc -- came as a result of our culture and a woman's role.
How can we -- you and me -- show up as we are, knowing that who we are authentically is whole and brilliant? How can we release the fears that hold us from being fully present to ourselves as ourselves? How can we live in alignment with our inner being with the sense of security that the right people will come into our lives at the right time? How can we have a sense of ease and depth that we are enough and we welcome all of who we are -- even the messy, wild, un-neat parts of us? How can we love her in a way that honors our whole being?
As much self-work I have done over the years, I'm still learning and healing. And I'm learning to be patient with myself. This isn't about being perfect and maybe it's not even about "being better." Maybe it's about being more real, more alive, more in love, more available, more honest, more authentic, more free. Yeah, I think that's it.
So, as I leave, I would like to invite you to do what I did with Connie to create deeper awareness:
Sending light and love,
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A creative spirit, coach & corporate professional, Jacinta White shares how she merges, what she calls, "the sacred messiness of life" & her love for all things artsy. Follow for tips, prompts, musings & more!