We’ve all heard the advice: Just Be Yourself. The mantra of our childhood years. I always thought, “Okay, but who am I?” or “Who am I supposed to be?” Navigating the suburban neighborhood I was raised into muddied the waters between who I really was and who I needed to be to feel safe, loved, and accepted. The standards for appearance, attitude, and action sent a clear message that always seemed in conflict with the advice (just be yourself!) that I kept receiving. As I am still today walking this meandering path inward, at that age it was simpler for me to try to mold myself into what my social environment wanted me to be: a quiet, pretty, normal girl who didn’t make too much noise, didn’t draw too much attention, and definitely didn’t express her silly, sensual self. I didn’t have any clue who I was, but I was clear on who I was expected to be.
Gradually, over the years, I picked up numerous qualities - usually to appease another person or diffuse a situation, often without even realizing it. I carried these conditioned qualities and beliefs for so long, I couldn’t even feel their weight. I didn’t realize just how much of me wasn’t even mine. And as life went on it began to feel heavier and harder. I developed social anxiety, felt constantly judged by others, and didn’t love myself. I immersed my mind in book after book, hoping that I might find myself in the characters on the pages. I tried on multiple different personas from all the characters I read about, but none of them felt like me. I took up acting and searched for myself in each part I played, comforted by the act of stepping into the shoes of another person who knew exactly who they were. No matter how many characters I emulated, none of them made me feel like myself.
Luckily, as Rumi so elegantly said, “What you seek is seeking you”. After graduating college, I began working on an organic farm in Austin, TX had a friend introduce me to the teachings of Wayne Dyer and his manifestation meditation. For almost a year leading up to that moment, I had felt the call to begin meditating. When I finally dove headfirst into the world of meditation, I realized that I was beginning to get glimpses of my truest, limitless self in these meditations. When I moved into a devoted Kundalini Yoga & Meditation practice, the glimpses shifted into something much more concrete as I pushed through subconscious blocks quicker than ever. For the first time in over a decade, I wasn’t being “myself”, whoever that had been. I was simply being, allowing each unique manifestation of myself flow forth moment to moment. The anxiety dropped and I began to really love myself for the first time since I can remember.
I’ve had many clients and friends walk the same path. We’ve all spent so much energy constructing these complex ideas of who we are that we (read: our egos) don’t want to throw it all away for the sake of the unknown. What I’ve come to know deeply is this: When we practice with consistency, there is no hiding our truest selves. Naturally, we emerge. When we are consistent, we can see clearly what is ours, what carries through in all moments and seasons of life, from what is just a facade, distraction, or temporary reaction to our environment. When I look back on my life, I see my joy, my silliness, my soulfulness, my artistry, my love of sharing with others, my drive to offer support and love to those in need, and a natural inclination to teach, among so many other things. These are the parts of my being that have been woven through the fabric of my entire life; these are the parts of my being that are truly mine, not something I picked up to feel safe, lovable, or validated. What parts of you are truly yours?
Thinking back on the well-worn advice of my childhood to “just be myself”, I see now just how conflicting the sentiment can be. Even now, those words conjure an experience of being whoever I thought I was “supposed” to be - not who I am. Sometimes I fall back into that space, where I want to be the small, quiet, easy person that others wanted me to be instead of doing the deep inner work. But because of the consistency I have cultivated in my practice, I now can see right through it. I know I will be walking this inner-path for many years to come, likely for all my life. Because when do we ever stop learning about ourselves? For the most part, it doesn’t feel heavy or hard anymore. It is, of course, as all deep inner work is. Yet, the strength cultivated with consistent practice offers me abundant energy to do this work, and I am grateful. Every day through my practice, I come back to my divine, graceful, radiant self and I love her a little more.
All my love to you.