Lately I’ve been putting a little bit more effort into being myself again. I know what you’re thinking: being yourself ought to require no effort. But alas, you’d be wrong. I’m so used to wishing I were like other people that I keep forgetting what I’m like. And I spend way too much mental energy worrying about coming up short in others’ eyes if I don’t love or prioritize the things that they love or prioritize.
I wish I were more interested in politics, and music, and pop culture, and theology. But I’m not. I wish I had more maternal instincts, a knack for cooking, a tolerance for small talk, a more adventuresome spirit. But I don’t. And I’m learning that that’s ok. Other people love those things or have more of those qualities, and that’s wonderful. I have other loves and qualities, and that’s wonderful too.
I want to stop wishing I were someone else and accept me for all that I am and all that I am not. And focus more on the “all that I am” part, the things I actually do love, the things I’m actually good at. I’m pretty good at making people feel known and valued and safe in conversation on my couch with a comforting beverage in hand. That’s a gift I want to make more opportunities for in my life.
It’s ok to focus my energies on the things that pique my interest rather than the things that pique others’ interest.
If you’re learning to validate yourself, too, take a few precautions:
- Don’t let your validation of yourself de-value others. Showing interest in another person’s interest can be a form of sacrificial love that helps bolster their sense of being valued.
- Remember that we still must contextualize our behavior for our environment. It’s appropriate to adjust how we interact with people at work versus at home (but forcing ourselves to be completely different people in different places is inauthentic and exhausting).
- And be careful you don’t focus so much on your own passions that you become self-centered or self-important. Figure out what you’re passionate about, and change the world (or a small portion of the world) with it.
Find yourself, be yourself, and do good while you’re at it.
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