"Just be yourself" How many times have you heard this phrase or advice? Seems an easy concept but in reality, a phrase that is harder to execute since the eternal question of how does one identify as the "real you" anyway is all relative and at times, elusive.
We all had insecurities and self-doubts. At least I did (and from time to time, I still question myself on certain aspects because I still am a work in progress). I came from a family where I was pushed and motivated to be the best that I can be in anything that I engage myself into; that is why growing up, I was already self-confident and self-assured in a lot of ways. While thankful for the positive environment I grew up in, that comes with a tremendous pressure of not only keeping up with the expectations but also the fear of failure or criticism. For some people, confidence comes naturally while for some, it takes time to harness and develop that inner strength of assuming and embracing one's self. Nevertheless, even when one is confident, it can be tarnished or be affected especially with certain life traumas or undesirable experiences happen. Trust me, I had my share of those but with time; comes age and maturity and also the experiences which I call now as "learning opportunities", These experiences helped me to know myself a little bit more- to know my strengths, my interests and also my weaknesses that I could work on.
This is just one way of getting to know yourself more. Think of it as if you are dating and looking to get in a relationship. When you are dating, you are still shy and reserved as you may be threading on thin ice to see if there is a chemistry between you and a potential partner, and the more you spend time with that person, the more you get to know about their personality, the things that make you compatible or not and if so, the more comfortable you are with the things you say or do around the person you are seeing.
I wanted to point out that in learning to embrace your inner self, it is an inside-out process. The more you get to know yourself from the inside, then that confidence in you exudes that make you also appreciate the "physical you" from the outside. I wanted to elaborate on it that while growing up as a confident young lady, I still had issues with how I looked physically. The more I got to discover the world from the outside, interacted with people from different walks of life made me compare myself to them. I, then felt insecure and unsure of how I will be perceived or if I will be wanted. But then as time went by, I remembered this flamboyant, funny guy Andre, who I used to work with in my early 20's, he always said in a funny, casual way,
"Honey, if you don't like me, somebody else will"
And I remember that I used to laugh at him when he said that but somehow, that phrase was embedded in my brain. I started thinking to myself that we are unique individuals and nobody is perfect and the more I learn to accept my flaws and imperfections, the more I can work with it to my advantage. It was not an easy road. You just don't wake up finally erasing all your doubts-- I didn't. I had to learn and work on it every day. A simple conversation and push in my brain reminding myself that I am beautiful no matter what, that I can do things and accomplish them helped a lot. However, I really had to open myself and accepting of who I am in all aspects.
They say that the brain is a really powerful tool in how one can take control of one's life and I immensely believe in it. How and what you think is how you can perceive and be perceived in life. So for the longest time as I can remember, while women get jealous and have cat fights on who is prettier, skinnier and sexier, I learned to love myself (slowly but surely) and by working with what I have. I knew that I may not be the tallest, or the skinniest but I know for a fact that if I tried to live a healthy life by working out and eating right, then I too, can look good and healthy physically and that is how I lived and practiced my life to this day. Also, I still practice the same old mantra that I started: " I am competing with nobody but myself." This is a concept that worked for me as I did not see anybody as a competition because I established the notion of individuality and uniqueness of each person. With that, my interaction with the people around me was not competitive nor combative.
However, it is undeniable that in the world that we live in, where there is a lot of peer pressure and what and how the media dictates and defines to as what beautiful and aesthetically-pleasing to the eye, it gets harder and harder for us, especially girls at a young age to question and doubt themselves- physically and character-wise. Yet, with all these outside forces, surrounding yourself with positive and loving people who sees your greatness, when at times, it is harder for us to see the goodness in ourselves, is one key to truly be confident and self-assertive. Surrounding yourself with positive energy and people who are accepting of you instead of the ones who will find any flaw to critique you and bring you down is a defining factor.
The more comfortable you become in your own skin, the less you feel the need to "camouflage" yourself to be accepted or to fit in.
Once you get to this point where you do not think of anybody else's opinion anymore of whether you are liked or not is such a powerful and liberating feeling. I used to be that person who will try to please everybody and will be too concerned on how people will see me. Trust me, it gets tiring. Unless that action makes you happy in a profound manner, then there will come a time, when you are more comfortable, certain of yourself, that you go out in the public without thinking of anybody else's critique anymore because the most essential thing is how you are feeling. Accepting that you cannot please everybody is one key to the "no effs given" attitude. I believe in energy and aura. When you exude positivity and confidence, this embodies power and strength and the more you will captivate and lure the same type of people. This is the law of nature: You attract the type of energy you radiate.
While a cliche, reading motivational and inspirational articles, books or even quotes on a regular routine helped me a lot in building that confidence from within. These forms of positive reinforcement will help and remind you, as an individual, to appreciate life and to appreciate YOU. There is quote that Bob Harris said in the movie, Lost in Translation. He says:
"The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you."
This is very true, isn't it? The more we are in tune with ourselves, the less we are worried or stressed of outside influences and the things that are out of our control. One can say that the process of embracing yourself is a holistic one. This involves loving one's self physically, emotionally and mentally. While it is a process, it is one that we can start and it is one that we can enjoy. If there is any journey that I enjoy the most, it is getting to know myself more and more each day. The more I do, the better person I can be. Writing this blog post is also very cathartic for me as it is a reminder for me to strive every day to walk my talk. There is nothing wrong with self-love. The more you learn to do it, the more love you can share and give to those around you.