What is being your authentic self really all about? Join guest author Nicole Wilson as she shares “Pretending to be Someone You’re Not, Is a Waste of the Person You Are.“
Written by guest author Nicole Wilson
I have a particular childhood friend who is quite the chameleon. Every time she is dating someone new she rouges on a new personality and an outrageous hairstyle to match her partner’s tastes and sensibilities. In effect, she’s Barbi with a head-to-toe wardrobe change to suit each passing season. I kid you not, there was one colorful year she made the Gobsmacking leap from Warner Brothers Producer arm-candy complete with a platinum blonde “Pretty Woman” fashioned bob to a Rastafari enthusiast rocking the oh-so-fetching white girl dreadlocks. It wasn’t pretty. Invariably each time the relationship would end, usually in some fuming pile of fire and brimstone, we would have a post mortem drink where she would wearily confess that she felt worthless, and was lost without the comfort of her relationship.
I remember telling her each time, in typical BFF fashion, “Hold onto yourself! Get back to being you and doing all the things that you love to do.” But each time I was met with the same incredulous expression. Say what, girlfriend?!?!?!?! (She doesn’t really talk like that, but for re-enactment purposes, my friend will be played by Rosie Perez in this dramatization) The truth was she had surrendered her authentic self several years and several boyfriends ago in favor of merging into her varied partners, so my simple suggestion of returning to her authentic self, in all reality, wasn’t so simple.
Most of us are raised and nurtured by our parents and the outside world in such a way that by the time we reach adulthood our authentic self has been buried under a whole host of expectations, fears, damage, disappointments, doubts, should and shouldn’ts that we haven’t the faintest clue how to recover it. In fact, in this age of self-help fanaticism this new fangled idea of “finding your authentic self” seems like just another overused catch phrase that it almost makes you doubt its validity. So is there such a thing as the Authentic Self? I strongly believe that there is. Perhaps it has been beaten into submission and is skulking in the shadows because of past hurts and damage but it can be healed, it can be pushed back into the light where it belongs.
In my own life, I have seen this idea in action. A few years ago I found myself genuinely stuck. There was no lube I could slather myself in that would free me.
I was frustrated with the inconsistency and lack of tangible progress in my career as an actress. I was consistently broke, depressed, calling Psychics and smoking like a chimney because of my regularly scheduled panic attacks. On top of that beautiful laundry list, I was driving my older successful TV actor boyfriend damn near cuckoo bananas by constantly leaning on him for direction, but no amount of his expert, or as I often joked “fatherly”, advice brought me any closer to clarity. I felt as though my 20 something life was going nowhere fast and I had exactly zero motivation to lead the life I was living.
I had come down with a bad case of what my Yoga teacher calls “Monkey Mind.” Night and day I was riddled with questions I couldn’t answer. “Should I go back to school?”, “Should I forge ahead as an actress despite my dispassionate feelings?”, “Should I break up with my boyfriend in favor of a more practical suitor?”, “Why am I not married and popping out babies like a Pez dispenser like my other friends?”, “Am I a loser because I am not meeting my own expectations of where I expected to be at this age?” , “Will it REALLY work out in the end or is everyone just blowing smoke up my ass?” Ugh. It makes me exhausted even in hindsight.
I had never experienced this feeling in my life to that extent, I’d always felt so sure of myself, and was known for my smile, drive and fun loving spirit. But here I was…and every day felt like Groundhog Day. The spark I had for my life appeared to be all but snuffed out. I knew what I was doing in my life was not flowing forward; instead I was like a stagnant murky puddle being lit upon by mosquitoes. Festering. So after trying and failing and a lot of beating myself up, I finally was able to see a path out of Stuckville, U.S.A. HOO-RAH!! I discovered when you move all the clutter out of the way — your doubts, your worry, your expectations, your fears, your should and shouldn’t- your Authentic Self rushes in and floods every inch of your being. When you liberate yourself, your next steps seem natural and informed and guided and more and more fulfilling.
I wound up opting to take a breather from acting and head back to school to study Holistic Nutrition and later went on to form my company, Sprouted in the City. I had always loved health and fitness, and more than that; the prospect of being able to share my knowledge and help people transform their lives gave me the warm fuzzies. I cannot tell you how perfectly timed and right this choice was for me. I have now struck a favorable balance between working in the arts and being a Holistic Nutritionist. I literally bounce out of bed in the morning each day because I am so excited to go to work! There is nothing about my work that I don’t love. In short, I unearthed the secret recipe for my Authentic Self!
So what the heck is being your Authentic Self?
Being your Authentic Self translates to being your TRUE self and having the courage to be vulnerable, curious, and open to the world, to people, to experiences, and to your REAL feelings. It encourages you to act from fearlessness and love and experience the world with your whole BIG, juicy heart.
However, mi amigos, that’s a lot easier said than done. Finding your Authentic Self is the work of a lifetime. For those of you who have been badly damaged by life, whether by a shoddy childhood or bad experiences later in life, reflection can feel downright intimidating. It sometimes demands help to heal those old wounds and clear away misconceptions you’ve built around who you are and what you should or shouldn’t be. Therapy is a fabulous option if you are working with long standing issues and destructive patterns. But for those of you who want to get the ball rolling, here are some wonderful tools (in question form) that can help you to re-discover the YOU that is most YOU! You to the max, in other words!
Who can you be totally yourself around? : We all have people in our life we want to impress, sometimes we even go so far as to form a false self or a different personality to fit in with them. That’s a lot of work — quite frankly – that’s exhausting !!! But on the other hand, there are people who you show your true colors to. The ones who call you on your shit. The ones who know the worst thing about you and love you anyway. The ones who you can rock dirty hair and sweatpants to meet and not think twice. It’s essential to surround yourself by people who can see the true you, who love and accept you as you are, and free you up to be that awesome person!
When you were little, what did you want to be? Every kid has a bright vision of their adult self and what they would be. Often life in the form of status, money and obligation get in the way and obscure that dream. Take the time to reconnect with that child self. Discover what your dream life would look like and then go about making it happen!!
What things do you love to do? Uncovering things you love to do is a great way to connect with your authentic self. By throwing yourself into activities you love, you will create a happy place for your authenticity to thrive. You may even decide you want to work or volunteer in the area of your favored activity.
What are you STILL holding onto? This reminds me (for my fellow 80’s babies) of that hoarder troll character from “Labryinth” who hobbles through life with a whole mountain of garbage strapped to her back. We as people experience a lot of negative things in the course of our lives in addition to all the positive. Maybe you were told you were ugly when you were a kid so you never felt deserving of a healthy, happy, relationship, or that you were not good at something so you quit trying, maybe one of your parents left so you became desperate to earn everyone’s approval around you. Whatever it is that you are carrying around —DROP IT! If someone treated you badly, remember it has nothing to do with you, rather it’s a reflection of how badly they feel about themselves, that’s their miserable inner life. It doesn’t need to become yours. Whatever past negativity you’re carrying around – LET IT GO. Move forward and bring new positive voices, thoughts, and views about yourself in to take their place.
These are just a few ways to get back in touch with your Authentic Self. How will you know that you’re on the right path? Well, you should feel at ease and at home. You’ll feel as though the universe has hand crafted a one-of-a-kind outfit that suits only you, with all its flaws and perfection; it will fit like a glove.
I am rooting for you!!
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
A few years ago I was diagnosed with cystic ovaries. A condition many women have, but few really put a voice to. It’s sort of the ugly stepsister known as women’s health. I have had to undergo several surgeries to remove them as they are recurrent. I changed my diet, my lifestyle, and underwent fertility preservation in the form of freezing my eggs as preventative insurance. It was incredibly traumatic when I was first dealing with it and freaking out about the prospect of perhaps not being able to have children. But I was proactive and I have turned my health issue into a passion by helping other women change and improve their health with diet and lifestyle change.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate that I am a fun loving broad who really speaks her mind. Perhaps it’s the brassy Native New Yorker in me, but I have never been afraid to put it out there. Sass and all.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
Oh gosh, TONS! I sometimes feel like that Carpenters medley “We’ve only just begun.” I am extremely proud of my work as an artist and actress and the fact that I was able to make my sparkly girlhood dream a bonafide reality. I would very much like to land bigger parts in film and TV as well as write and produce a film at some point
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
As Rogers and Hammerstein would say, “I am a cockeyed optimist.” In regards to nearly everything but especially when it comes to the people I love. It takes a special sort to get in my door, but once you’re in, you’re in for life. I’m sort of like the Mafia. I love HARD and sometimes allow people to stay in my life far longer than they actually deserve to be there. It takes a lot for me to want to give someone the boot from my life. More often I relegate them to a smaller role in my life, when perhaps it’s better I just say “too-dah-lou” sucker!
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Family. They are literally the best bunch of crazy apples on this planet. They have supported me through every phase of my life, empowered me, and encouraged my dreams from the time I was knee high to a grasshopper. Love them!!
Nicole Wilson is a graduate of The School for Integrative Nutrition and has a thriving practice as a Holistic Nutritionist and published motivational writer. She is the owner of her company, Sprouted in the City, a health and life coaching practice that empowers women to transform their bodies and lives into SEXY works of art! Additionally Nicole works successfully as a painter as well as a TV and Film actress appearing on such shows as “The Good Wife” and “All My Children”. Her website is: www.sproutedinthecity.com Twitter Handle : @Sproutedcity