Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? Are external validation and seeking praise from others things you wish for? Does your confidence sink or rise on whether you are accepted? Would you not speak your mind for fear of being ostracised? Is conformity a driver for you or is expressing your uniqueness more important?
The expression “being in my own skin” speaks to me of authenticity. I think there is a powerful force in human nature that challenges authenticity and that is the need for conformity.
From an early age we conform to family values, patterns and behaviours so that we fit in and feel like we belong to our tribe, the group that raises us, protects us and nurtures us. We fit in to ensure that we are loved and looked after.
Later on we go to school and learn to conform to school rules and playground rules so that we have friends, feel safe and become an accepted member of the community. If we do not fit in with the majority, we find a minority to be with. If we cannot be accepted by some group or other we can feel lonely, ostracised and isolated.
This dynamic plays out in our working life as well. As a result, we try hard to conform, work long and hard hours to be accepted by the boss, manager and team. We seek acceptance from those we are surrounded by.
Throughout our lives it is an important dynamic. For all its benefits, there is one huge cost conformity may make us pay: the expression of our unique voice.
Your Unique Voice
In denying our true thoughts and feelings so that we can fit into some group or clique or other, we do not listen to ourself and do not take the time to understand our motivations, feelings and urges. We become a stranger to ourself and do not know what we believe and value at our very core. We feel lost in a crowd, alone at a party of friends unable to explain why we feel as we do when to the outside world we appear to have all we desire.
External conformity can lead to internal estrangement. When people reach a crisis point in their lives it is often a catalyst to looking inward and discovering what we truly think and believe. Much of the inner transformational work is understanding this process and finding your unique voice as part of that journey.
Suddenly, you come to an understanding as to your true self and feel happy expressing your deep thoughts regardless of the crowd. It becomes important to say what you think and feel rather than fit in with the crowd. For some it marks the beginning of a new career, hobby or even a new relationship. For many self- employed people, it is the drive of their unique voice that inspires them to step into the unknown and do what they love, confident in the knowledge that doing what brings them joy will bring with it the motivation, determination and love that will make it a success.
Some people will not like the change in you. Others will love it and many will accept it. At least they see the real you rather than a false image. At least you can express the real you too rather than hide behind a mask.
Comfortable in your own skin
The bottom line is that you feel comfortable in your own skin. A peace and certainty comes over you as well as a confidence. No amount of conformity will allow that. What little confidence and certainty conformity may bring is short lived because you are always measuring yourself against an ever- changing external benchmark. It is the difference between external validation which the conformed seeks and internal validation which the authentic seeker longs for.
If you are happy within yourself then you can weather the storm of those that disagree and do not support you. When you are confident in your own skin, the line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” rings true: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same …….. You’ll be a man my son”. It is not a question of manhood for this applies to men and women, young and old. It is a quality of selfhood, the challenge to be all that you can be and fulfil you true potential.
Over to You
As ever I would love to hear from you and discover your experiences of becoming comfortable in your own skin. Do you feel comfortable being yourself? What is it like for you being on that journey? Do you struggle feeling comfortable in your own skin? Please share your experiences so that other people can gain motivation, consolation and inspiration from your words. It might make all the difference in the world to someone you never meet and inspire them to take the step that makes them feel happy to be themselves.
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