I spent a good portion of my life wearing many masks. I had a mask for the various people groups I mingled with. I had a mask for any academic or professional room I walked into and I had a mask that I wore when I looked at myself in the mirror. This wasn’t because I was a manipulator or con artist, it was simply because I did not know who I was. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be because being the “me” I wanted to, didn’t seem to jive with what and who everyone else was being. Since I seemed to carry this weighted desire for external attention and approval, I mastered the ability to be what anyone else needed me to be.
I believe it is safe to say that many people spend their adolescence, early adulthood, and even mid-age not having any idea who they are. It seems to be the proverbial quest to be on a journey of discovering who we are, what our purpose is, and why we are here. Some people take it in stride yet others go to great lengths and voyage through internal muckiness to unearth the depths of who they are. I have rarely been able to take much of anything in stride so I chose the latter.
A decade of searching, healing, messing up, failing, regrouping, soaring, falling, and climbing has lead me to one very valuable conclusion and one simple yet frightening choice. I had to either evolve or I could repeat the same cycles that kept me chained to a version of myself I didn’t even like. In order to evolve into the fullness of who I am, I had to get comfortable with alarming idea that not every person, place, or thing is meant for me and I am not meant for all of them either.
Although this is a fairly basic concept for many, it took me years to come to terms with it. Any person who was conditioned to be a people pleaser knows that this is a difficult concept to accept yet in doing so, I liberated myself. I found myself falling in love with the person I always knew I was; the person who was clawing to get out of me for the majority of my life. The more I practiced being true to my beliefs, my heart, and my soul, the more I didn’t want to be for everybody. I just wanted to be for the ones who accepted me for all of the different angles I can embody on any given day.
‘Authenticity’ gets thrown around as a trending hashtag on social media but for the ones who genuinely learn how to embrace themselves authentically, they know the power and the greatness that lives inside of their bones. It is from this space of acceptance that they can walk confidently into any room, bare faced and whole, in full awareness that they deserve a seat at any table they choose to approach…even if they have to take deep breaths before they do.
Courtney Tudman – Poet/Writer