Thoughts on being your authentic self, no matter what.
I have a lot to say about living an authentic life. It’s the topic of a book I’ve been working on for quite some time. I understand that many books share the same subject, but this one is my story. It’s about how I learned to figure out who I am and then the process of becoming that. It sounds easier than it is. Along the way, I learned to love myself, which saved my life.
This post, however, could not wait for the book. There are times when I must say something to make myself feel better. I’ve referred to “Atomic Betty’s” as my therapy blog for years. I would love to say I write this for you, but frequently the blog posts I write are because it’s something I need to hear. This is one of those times.
Growing up, I had to be a chameleon. I had to be whatever my emotionally bankrupt parents needed me to be to try and get the love I needed. It was a sort of childhood survival tactic. The problem with that is you eventually lose yourself completely. Then you have no idea who you are as you grow up, and you begin repeating those behaviors in all of your relationships.
It took a lot of time and effort to figure out who I am and then become that without apology. The difficulty I face these days, from time to time, is being who I am without that apology.
Every once in a while, I’ll still substitute someone else’s opinion for my own, especially if it’s laced with a dose of shame. For example, suppose someone shames me for something that is just me. In that case, it immediately makes me think I’m in the wrong and that my behavior has to be adjusted accordingly to gain and maintain that “approval,” which in my childhood brain defines as being the same as love.
One of my favorite authors who helped me so much along my journey is Dr. Henry Cloud of Boundaries’ fame. But he’s written so much more. Yesterday a beautiful quote from him came across my Instagram feed. He said, “Certainly we should listen to the thoughts of others and weigh them, but we should never ‘give our minds’ over to anyone. We are to weigh things for ourselves in the context of a relationship, ‘sharpening’ each other as iron, but remaining separate thinkers.”
It was a good reminder.
Another good reminder is to remember it’s a massive error to fall into the trap of believing that I have any control over someone else. That includes their thinking, their actions, and whether or not they choose to give me love and approval. That is their choice, and their choice alone, and I have ZERO control over it.
Most of the time, I get it right. However, it still gets to me every once in a while, especially with the people I love the most.
Whenever that happens, I have to remind myself exactly who I am. I pause. I put thought into it, and I figured it out.
This is who I am.
I am passionate about almost everything in my life. I can be loud. Really loud. I can be quiet. If you hurt me, I get really quiet. If you scare me, I get loud.
I’m the kind of person that gets excited, stupidly excited, over food. I always have. My mom was a great cook.
I get equally excited over an icy cold beer after riding my bicycle or whenever I’m about to dive face-first into a pizza.
I have one of the biggest hearts on the planet, especially for animals. Yesterday alone, I fed a cat, a deer, a skunk, a baby fox, and four raccoons in that order. So if you tell me a bad animal story, I will likely cry and then obsessively think about it for days and days. And it will hurt me every time I do.
When it comes to people, I’m different. Even with a big heart, if someone has genuinely wounded me, I can detach like an MFer and move forward feeling absolutely nothing. I don’t know that that’s a good thing. I stopped beating myself up over it.
My family is different. I’ll always love them even if they don’t love me back. But, they are still the ones who can wound me the most.
I play hard. I work hard. I love hard.
I have an obnoxiously loud laugh.
I’m always reading no less than five books at once.
Being outside is my happy place, and I get super excited about it. I get cranky if I go too many days in a row without “outside” time.
I overthink everything.
When it comes to my kids, I turn into the most giant mama bear of all the mama bears. I would take a bullet for them at any moment and would utter words of gratitude with my dying breath for the opportunity.
I live in a constant state of gratitude–for the good and the bad.
I curse a lot. It still makes me laugh.
I’m nice to people; unless they are tailgating me.
I’m one of the biggest dreamers you’ll ever meet. But I need to be more of a doer. (Ask me about that book again.)
I’m very competitive.
I love baseball more than I can ever say. The sound of it makes me happy. It reminds me of summers with my amazing grandparents, who always had a game and always had time for me. But yes, if I’m watching a critical game, I’m going to be nervous. I’m going to be loud. And I’m going to love every moment of it.
I’m trying to eradicate the need to explain myself and concentrate on the people who love me unconditionally. You know who you are, and I am grateful.
I know I can be over the top. But for the most part, I’m a pretty damned decent human being. So I will leave you with the iconic words of Del Griffith and pray that you know who the hell that is.
“Well, you think what you want about me. I’m not changing. I like me…’Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.