Are you being true to yourself?

It's all about you...

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There’s no one alive who is Youer than You.” So said Dr Seuss in his book Happy Birthday to You.

It's all about you....articleAnd I’ve been reflecting very much on my thoughts of being true to yourself and remembering who You are.

That statement is so true. It should be the easiest thing in the world to be who we are. But how many of us can truly back up the statement ‘what you see is what you get’ by standing in our own authentic power, being utterly and absolutely true to ourselves, without masks and emotional barriers?

I’d like to hold my hand up and say I do, but really, I only do it sometimes. Much more often than in the past but still not always. I believe I’m very much a heart-on-sleeve girl when it comes to being vulnerable. I’m kind of okay with that, but let me consider that for a moment…

Would I be photographed sans mascara, with unwashed hair in my PJs on a less than perfect day?

In all truth, there’s not much of a chance, and I don’t consider that’s because I’m shallow or overly vain. More because, unless you’re one of my nearest and dearest, or happen to be a highly evolved being, I reckon you’re most likely going to make a judgement about what you see. Sorry, but it’s probably true. It’s what we do, even when we don’t mean to.

In my head I hear the voices of idealism. Beauty starts from within, and what’s on the outside doesn’t matter.

I have been there, said those very words on many an occasion and yet deep down I was never really convinced.

A matter of identity…

The discomfort of those sentiments hit me big time recently throughout chemotherapy and surgery. I’m aware I was fortunate to be given a choice, because not everyone is, but in the time it takes to bat an eyelid I made the choice between chemicals that would make my hair and eyelashes fall out or one that would not.

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And you know, it had nothing at all to do with vanity. It was a much more a matter of identity. As a child of the 60s whose norm even today is a couple of layers of mascara first thing to greet the day – it makes me feel like me – and given the choice I had no intention or desire to discover who I’d be without it.

When you’re going through those regimes, simply catching a glimpse in the mirror of how awful you look amplifies how bad you feel. Zen habits, good nutrition and lots of rest of course all contribute to recovery, yet on the days where it’s possible to indulge in a little self care on the outside it can change how you feel about yourself dramatically.

I’m aware I’m getting a little sidetracked here, but I really feel like I want to be a voice that gives women permission to be who they are inside and out, and if that entails a little embellishment here and there so be it.

If mascara and a bit of lippie is what makes you feel good, where’s the harm in that? It doesn’t automatically indicate a huge chasm in the self-esteem stakes.

Hats off to anyone who is totally confident and happy in their own skin. That’s just wonderful and eminently desirable. I applaud you, unless you are having a pop at the rest of us through indirect criticism. I’m just a bit confused as to whether or not dressing up, owning lovely possessions and being girlie goes out the window.

Does all of that have to stop when you become ‘enlightened’ and self satisfied in all your inner beautifulness? And I have to question if it’s even the same thing as remembering who you are?

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Isn’t it possible to be authentic and still want to gild the lily a bit?

I reckon if something makes you feel attractive/sexy/badass good then go for it girl. I so want women to call a halt on feeling guilty because they read or heard somewhere you must be emotionally insecure if you have to dress up and cover up, or expose your body in some attention-grabbing way or other.

What, for heaven’s sake, is wrong with wanting to enhance how you look and feel? And like it or not unless you’re two years old, a saint, a nun or you’ve had a zillion years in therapy, you’re going to be hard pressed to convince me that you are in no way touched by outside influences.

Sally Canning down the mascaraless challenge on FacebookA while ago I did the bare-face challenge on Facebook for Breast Cancer Care and felt completely stoked about having plucked up the courage to come clean amongst what felt like a bevy of 30 and 40 something natural beauties, unscathed by the ravages of time and the menopause.

Imagine my indignation the following evening at a charity dinner when the host rushed up to me and not even in hushed tones exclaimed, “Oh Sally, I have just seen the most awful photo of you online.”  After I recovered from such a brash display of thoughtlessness I concluded that such a remark said far more about her than how I looked au naturel.

But isn’t that exactly the kind of reaction we fear?

Being authentically you is where your contentedness really lives

It’s when we are most at peace and other people can sense it, too. They are inexplicably drawn to the realness and the grounded energy of an authentic person. It’s something to aspire to but not to get hung up on as it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s an ongoing process.

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The difficulty in recognising and achieving that state of being is bound up in having been dictated to all our lives by a culture telling us who we should be, how we should live, what boxes we should fit into and how we should behave. It’s an idealistic doctrine designed to control.

Under all those layers of shoulds lies the real you and the challenge for us all is the remembering of who we were before all the masks and cloaks of protection went on.

So many women I work with begin our time together with “I feel so insecure I don’t even know who I am.”

Daring to be You, challenging the status quo and being vulnerable can be big and scary stuff.

The important thing is to give yourself permission to be human, to be real, to be You. To those who love you, your imperfections may be the most charming and attractive of your characteristics. Perfection is unobtainable so if that’s what you’re chasing stop it right now! You are never gonna get there honey because believe me, as soon as you get anywhere near either you or someone else will move the goal posts.

It’s important to remember You are unique. There is no one and will never be anyone quite like you. You, in all your imperfect glory are a gift to this world. But if you feel you need permission to gild the lily… go right ahead.