Ten years ago I was in hiding.
And I mean serious hiding.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean hiding in the literal sense.
I didn’t spend all my time squirreled away under the stairs in a Harry Potter-esque type scenario (although this idea makes me laugh!)
No, I was hiding in full view, concealed behind a well-maintained personality façade that vaguely resembled a mix of extroverted Tigger and ultra-efficient Supernanny.
Each day I’d put on a show, like an actress dutifully performing her role.
Scarily, I became so adept at it that I almost convinced myself it was true.
Except that it wasn’t.
It was a disguise.
I was playing a part that I believed people wanted and needed me to be, and in my head expectations were high.
I thought I had to be the perennial sorter-outer, taking control of every situation that others struggled with and fixing them.
It was imperative I had ALL the answers.
I thought I had to be the clinical executive, battening down the emotional hatches when it came to people-related decisions.
Even when I disagreed with those decisions and it nearly killed me acting upon them.
And I thought I had to be the raging socialite, painting the town red with colleagues, clients and friends in noisy cocktail bars until the wee hours every other night.
Because that’s what fun people did. PARTY needed to be my middle name.
In the midst of this draining charade, somewhere deep down inside I was begging to be seen.
But the fear of not living up to expectation; of seeing people’s disappointment when they saw the real me, kept me trapped in a fiction of my own making.
Until, that is, a close friend gave me the tough love I needed and told me straight:
“Alison, it’s time you got yourself a coach.”
Now at the time I had no idea what this might involve or even achieve, but worn down with the stress and exhaustion of my pretence I figured I had nothing to lose.
So I took the plunge and contacted someone my friend suggested.
And it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
For the first time I could be brutally honest with someone who didn’t know me.
I could share who I really was and what I was struggling with, and have someone on my side as I took the frightening, incremental steps towards living honestly and in full view.
And let me tell you, I was convinced it would end in DISASTER.
Family members would tell me I’d changed.
Friends wouldn’t get it and drift away.
My boss would think I’d lost the plot and fire me.
But you know what happened?
Family members didn’t even notice. (Side note: I was almost affronted!!)
My real friends didn’t bat an eyelid.
My boss promoted me.
All this taught me two things.
Firstly, it is categorically okay to be who you really are.
Disguising your true self only hurts you and holds you back.
The people who really love and appreciate you won’t insist on you being anything other than yourself, and those that do aren’t the kinds of people you want in your life.
Secondly – and this was a real surprise – being unreservedly who you are is the key to happiness AND success.
The more you embrace and own who you are, the more you use your best strengths and talents every day, drawing the right types of opportunities and people towards you.
I read once that being yourself is the ultimate risk, but now I wholeheartedly disagree.
The real risk is keeping your true self hidden from view and not bringing to the world your unique personality, perspective, talents and passions.
Don’t underestimate the power of you.
Beautiful things happen the moment you decide to be yourself.
P.S. Just in case you were wondering:
There, it’s out there, loud and proud.
Feel free to share something that lights you up or leaves you cold. I will cheer you on all the way!!
And if you’re worried about what others will say, consider this insightful quote from Dr. Seuss:
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
P.P.S. If you’re in hiding yourself and would love some help stepping out of your own shadow, schedule a free, no-strings consultation call with me.
And if you’d prefer to do it yourself, check out Work Wonderland. The course is designed to reveal your innate values, strengths, passions and skills, and help you determine your best career and life based on the true you.
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