What comes up in many conversations I’m having, articles and books I am reading, and interviews I’m doing on WomanTalk Live: the topics of women finding their voices, taking off their masks and choosing authenticity as a way of life – personally and professionally.
It seems that for so long, so many of us have adhered to rules we aren’t even sure who made up… they are just the rules we are supposed to follow. And, those rules – or, very strong opinions – affect everything we do from what we study, what we participate in, what we wear, what types of careers we choose, what relationship choices we make, etc.
This might not be true for the young girls and women coming up now, but for women of a certain age…you know exactly what I am talking about.
When I first started working in corporate America, I was handed the “bible” of how women should dress if they wanted to be seen as professional. It was John Molloy’s Dress for Success and it had me and several gazillion other women trying to “make it” in the business world by dressing like men with skirts. Dark suits in menswear fabric; starched white broadcloth blouses; silk bow ties; non-descript dark pumps; nude hose; and, very little jewelry, maybe a watch, ring and strand of pearls.
For years, my role models were men and I spent my time trying to figure out how to be more like them so that I could be accepted into the club. Trust me, there was no thought at any time about what my authentic self looked like and how I could bring it to the table. My authentic self was not welcomed at the table.
Yep, many things have changed since then. Yet, I still see and hear women cracking the shell with their little beaks, looking out and saying…”I might not exactly know whom my authentic self is but I’m going to find out and she is the person who will show up in my world from now on.”
And to that, I say “Hooray and Hallelujah.” Your authentic self is exactly the person I want to know. I don’t want you or me to have to struggle with what mask we need to wear. I want us to be so comfortable in our own skin and so supportive of each other and ourselves that authenticity, being who we are, is the only way to live and the only way we choose to live going forward.
It can be scary to be that open and that vulnerable in the world because there will always be someone out there who won’t “like” you (imagine that) or has thoughts about what you should be doing and how you should be doing it. There will always be people who will feel uncomfortable because you’re comfortable being you. There will always be people who will be threatened by you letting your real light shine. So be it.
On the other side, there will always be people who think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. And, you are.
In Brene’ Brown’s latest book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, she shares that when we shut ourselves off from authenticity and vulnerability, “we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.” She also shares her “vulnerability prayer.” Take off your mask and repeat after me:
Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.
Ohhhh, I like it. You’re marvelous.