There’s a lot of talk these days about being authentic. Especially in the entrepreneurial world it’s good for marketing if you can connect to your prospects as a “real” person.
What’s so funny about it is that, at least once you get to adulthood, most of us got the message to go along to get along. We’re not supposed to rock the boat by being too different.
Conformity and compliance are not just expected, they’re demanded. Or maybe I just feel that way because I spent over 20 years in corporate–where compliance has been elevated to an art form.
Have you ever had that experience? Or are you in it now? Are you desperate to be seen and heard for who you are?
Stop Holding it In
In my last corporate contracting position–you can read more about it here–I was totally frustrated. Not only was it chaotic, but I felt like I couldn’t speak up. No one wanted to hear a contractor’s point of view. So, once I realized that I wasn’t going to be heard, I shut down. But that frustration built up in me as stress and anger.
You see, even if you hold it in, it doesn’t go away. It just mutates into stress that attacks you from the inside. And over time, that stress can lead to dangerous health issues and possible an early death.
Yet we still hold back on our thoughts, suppress our feelings and swallow our pain. Some people include alcohol with it, others overeat, still others use pharmaceuticals–so many choices to self-medicate. We do this to keep from speaking our truth. We keep the mask on and keep our real feelings bottled up.
If you are in a situation where you feel you can’t be yourself, why are you staying in it? Do you have plans to get out? Taking action is much better than waiting until you blow up. And you will blow up at some point–whether it blows outward, or inward.
Should You Risk It?
Lots of risks come with speaking your truth. A lot of people around you might not like it. They might push back and make you out to be the “bad guy.” If you’re not used to standing up for yourself, it might not feel comfortable at first.
But at the end of the day, you have a choice to make. Either you’ll keep hiding your true desires and your real feelings, or they’ll destroy you from within.
The evidence of that is all around us. Scratch any bitter, angry person and you’ll find someone who never got their needs met. And one who probably never asked for them to be met. Don’t be that person.
Find Your Voice
Finding your authentic voice can be like going on an archeological dig. You’ve got to be patient as you excavate the layers that covered over the person you really are. Uncovering some things may hurt. You may recoil in fear or revulsion. Or you may be delighted to rediscover some part of yourself that you neglected.
When I started writing again, I was still in my corporate job. I’d put it aside for years, but when I went back to it, I knew I’d found what I needed. Buried under my corporate ambitions was my calling. The thing I had to do.
But it wasn’t easy to accept that I had something to say and that I had a right to say it. It wasn’t easy to let out what I’d been holding in. Finally I did it because I had to. It would’ve been too painful to lose my voice again.
When it comes to living and speaking your truth, you have to be willing to put it all on the line. You have to accept that no one may agree with you or support you. And that has to be okay.
Whether you’re going into business or changing a career or starting a new relationship, it’s all the same. Know what you want and ask for it. Be honest and stay in integrity. That’s how you speak your truth and stand up for your life.
Copyright © 2014 Deborah A. Bailey