dare to be yourself
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”― Theodore Roosevelt
It is not a secret that I am a big fan of Dr. Brene Brown’s work. I came across the quote above when I read her book ‘Daring Greatly’ recommended by my first life coach. And it gives me goose bumps till date every time I read it at various junctures of my life. Certain incidents of life have given me so much perspective and clarity on how important it is to lead an authentic life instead of hiding behind an armour.
These armours come in various forms, sometimes in the name of following the rules set by society, other times in the pretext of following family traditions but above all it comes in the form of our own expectations of ourselves which make us do things to please others even at the cost of betraying our own selves. We always strive to be at peace with our external surroundings instead of being at peace with our inner selves.
And therefore, the day you begin living a life aligned with your inner values many people start falling off. Or let’s put it another way, the day you decide to drop your armour/mask many people will begin falling off and they don’t fall off because they are bad, they fall off because they were in love with your exterior and didn’t give a damn about how you felt inside. They were in love with how well behaved you were, how giving you were and how perfect you were. It is not them to be blamed, it is us who have always been putting up a poised front instead of revealing our pain.
We are bound by responsibility not love, it is a harsh reality and not a good one because the day you put yourself before your responsibilities people start calling you selfish and all sorts of names. So, due to the fear of facing this we’d rather sacrifice ourselves to be known as that ‘selfless’ person who died keeping up with responsibilities. That’s how messed up we are.
So what if being selfless is giving us vertigo, diabetes and cancer. We got to keep up to our expectations, right? Our expectation of living up to others’ expectations because our perception of ourselves is based on their perception of us. Does that resonate with you?
Our own expectation of being perfectionists at all fronts of our lives, personal and professional is killing us. We’d rather die than fail. We forget that it is these failures that make us human. Yes, you read this right. You are allowed to fail even at work. It really doesn’t matter how many ladders you climb in the corporate if you are sick in the gut. Perfectionism is seductive but not part of the human experience is what Dr. Brene Brown says. It is high time we accept that being human and embracing all our imperfections is not only the best but the only way to lead a fulfilling life. Like my friend Maureen always says ‘You do you.’
I don’t believe that any of us was born to please others in this life. We were born to be on our own journey and experience life for what it is and that can only be done when we are authentic and honest to ourselves. That will result in forming honest and authentic relationships which is the core of leading a happy life. This life is too short to waste in unauthentic relationships and people who don’t give a damn about how they make you feel. Drop your armor today and dare to be yourself – that’s what brave living is all about. Yes, those who don’t love the real you will leave you, so what? You will attract the ones who will love you for who you are and that’s exactly what you need.
Going back to the quote – Criticism that is meant to give you feedback is key for growth but any criticism meant to cause pain needs to be filtered and thrown out! I used to think that people who lead others aren’t afraid but the truth is that each and every person you see doing big things in life is equally afraid as you and I but they go ahead regardless of their fear and do it anyway. That is what courage is! It is not being fearless, it is doing despite being fearful.
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