Finding courage to be me



We all hide behind a mask. Some masks are thick and have years of layers upon them and others are almost translucent. It all comes down to finding the courage to reveal the real you. There’s the face we show the world and then there’s the one we have for ourselves and some even have another one for close friends and family.

During my teenage and early adult years I was lonely. I had no family at all and I moved around a lot as I searched for my place in the world. Because of my tumultuous upbringing I thought that in order for people to like me (which was important to me then) I had to be whatever they wanted me to be.

I had so many different masks to choose from I often felt like a Chameleon as I switched and changed between them depending on who I was with at the time. I had the ability to go from being a punk rocker one day, to a corporate executive the next and then a hippy the next day. By the end of my twenties I had no idea who I was, what I wanted or what I even believed in. I was wandering lost and although I always seemed to have people around me, my life lacked connection and true intimacy and I was desperately unhappy.

My turning point came when I was at an Anthony Robbins week long workshop in Hawaii. Having managed to keep my masks up for almost the entire week I thought I was coping really well, keeping my real feelings and life experiences to myself, locked away and buried deep. Or so I thought. The truth was that internally I was fighting with the overload of information and questions about what my goals were and what I wanted from life. I had no idea what I wanted because I had never allowed myself the luxury of even considering that.

As my inner torture grew I pushed away anyone who attempted to get close to me or get to know me. Realising that I was supposed to be breaking down these barriers and having witnessed everyone around me experiencing life changing breakthroughs my self-hatred was brewing within me. My boiling point came at the end of the week and culminated in me deciding that to end my life and my suffering was the only solution.

Thankfully that plan was interrupted by a caring human being who, to this day, probably isn’t aware of the impact they had on my life or where I was going in that moment when they stopped me, gave me a hug and then didn’t let go. They chose to see through the mask I was desperately holding onto and to look deep into my soul to the truth of who I am. You can read more about this experience in my book, Facing Fears – Finding the courage to reveal the real you.

You see, what I’ve discovered since that day when I wanted to end it all, is that although we wear these masks to protect us, what they are actually doing is restricting us, keeping us trapped and stuck in a world filled with fear and loneliness. These masks are denying us the experience of true love and connection. Denying us the opportunity to live a life of happiness and fulfilment.

In a recent interview on The Fearless Females Podcast, Marisa Russo from Forensic Healing said, “If I’m shut down you can’t see me because you can’t feel me and you don’t know who I really am, so therefore you won’t trust me.” It’s so true. How do you expect anyone to trust you if you don’t have the courage to reveal the real you? How can anyone love you if you aren’t being the real you?

I know of people who have worn their mask when they met someone, dated, married and even had children with them, only to finally have a life changing moment and discover that who they have become is nothing like who they actually are. They’ve gone on to reveal who they are and their relationships and life have been enriched because of this.

I understand that you are afraid of revealing the real you. That fear of judgement can be crippling. Feeling like you aren’t good enough or that no one will like the real you. But the friends and colleagues that like you now, only like the fake you that you have presented to the world. Think about how deep those friendships really are if all they know is the fake you.

These fears are keeping you trapped though, and tormented internally. You know, deep down inside, that you are denying yourself joy and happiness by letting these fears control you. This isn’t who you are or who you were meant to be. Trust me when I say that on the other side of those fears are deeper friendships and more enriched experiences than you can imagine right now. These are the experiences your heart and soul is craving for.

Think of a time when you have met someone and connected with them straight away on such a deep level that it almost scared you. They were so open, transparent and quietly confident within themselves that you were drawn to talk to them, get to know them and befriend them. How easy was it to connect with them? How easy was it to trust them? These are the people who have found the courage to be themselves.

You might also be fighting with the fear of being vulnerable which is about being and sharing your true self because you are afraid that if you share your true feelings, opinions, and beliefs that people might take advantage of you. But, as my guest Marisa shares in our interview, being vulnerable actually protects us because by being our true selves we then have a better radar for those who might harm us. When you are yourself, you can see through other people’s masks and know who to avoid and who you can trust.

So, how did I go about finding the courage to be me? Well, the first step was to learn how to overcome these fear of judgement, being enough and vulnerability. To do that I had to trust that who I truly was, was actually likeable in the first place. This wasn’t even remotely possible when I had so much hatred for myself so before I could do anything I had to learn to love me.

I did this by focusing on writing what I liked about myself and what I was grateful for on a daily basis. When I started it was as simple as saying that I am grateful I have hair and eyebrows but as I consistently practiced this each day I found that over a few weeks I began to feel better about myself.

The next step was to take that to the next level. To do this I practiced using one of Louise Hay’s techniques of looking into a mirror each day for a minute, five times a day and saying out loud, “I love you, I really do love you, Tegan I love you exactly as you are”. Yes, this was hard in the beginning and yes there were tears but I stuck with it and it works. It really does. Something inside of you shifts and you start feeling more confident.

The third thing I did was to ask myself what I wanted and I would journal the answers. I made a commitment to do each of these steps for twenty-one days each but found that the results were so amazing that I have continued it as a daily habit.

Once I learned to love who I was, to be grateful for all of my gifts and to clarify what it was that I truly wanted, my life took on a whole new direction. My relationships had more meaning, I made more friends easier, opportunities opened up for me and I found a level of happiness within myself that I didn’t know existed.

This is what I want for you too so I hope that you will practice these steps and find the courage to remove your own mask. Let me know your thoughts, questions and experiences in the comments below.

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