*You can watch the video of my presentation now, thanks to the One Woman video team!
Be yourself. Sounds simple enough but it’s enough of a challenge that if you google it you can find how-to articles on it. I’m turning 40 in a month and so I’ve been reading self-help books, and taking courses and workshops and exploring different philosophies and methods and ideas and I feel like I’m just now tuning into who I really am.
I’m a mother and a wife. I’m a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. I’m an entrepreneur and a teacher. Those words don’t encompass all that I am, though. They’re labels and roles that I fill but it’s not all of what makes me me. I’m a reader and a huge Tudor history fan. I like coffee and I love Yoga with Adriene. I’m working on improving my patience and I value loyalty. I’m still not sure if that’s enough to describe who I am, though. I’m also a big fan of words, and I know you’ve all heard the word “authentic”. Gurus like to tell us to be our authentic selves, but what does that even mean? We could say it means being true to yourself, but what does “true” mean? I love “from the heart” and I feel like that’s getting closer to what it means to be yourself.
Maybe we are ourselves when we act from the heart, but how do we know? I reflected on my past and there was one regret that sticks out: one time I denied acting from my heart: not auditioning for the honour choir. Thirty years later this still nags at me because I loved singing and the choir director pretty much assured me that I’d pass the audition, yet I still said no. I had let one word, one 4 letter word, stop me from pursuing something I loved. FEAR. I was too afraid to stand up all alone and sing ONCE and that prevented me from standing together with others and doing what made me happy for years. I chose to go to my senior prom with a guy friend instead of asking the person I really wanted to go with because I was too afraid he’d say no (or that he’d actually say yes!)
When I look back at the things fear held be back from, I feel a little sad for my past self. I could have toured Europe with that choir. I could have gone to my high school prom with my first love. I’ve decided though to view those missed opportunities as lessons and I choose to let them open my eyes to what’s truly important to me as I work towards learning who I really am. I’m choosing to embrace the word FEARLESS instead of FEAR.
Here comes the teacher in me—let’s look at the word FEARLESS It means “without fear”. Like my shirt says, I see this as two words: FEAR and LESS. I don’t feel brave enough most days to be completely fearless but I know I’m capable of fearing less a little bit each day. Think about that. How could, how would your life change if you feared a little less!
I looked to my past again and instead looked at those times I feared less enough to try something new. I can remember the first time I went dancing at a club—seems silly, but I was nervous to be judged but it ended up being liberating! A good night out dancing is still so much fun! I feared less and transferred universities and programs halfway through a degree. I sought therapy for a depression that was taking over my life. And did it again. I started dating a father of 3 kids (I married him.) I had my daughter and then healed a broken heart after a miscarriage. I embraced the uncertainty of another pregnancy and was blessed with my son. I signed up for a boxing fitness class. I started my own business. I became a runner. I started a splits training class. All of these intimidating experiences have become my greatest sources of strength and happiness.
Another thing about me is that I love documentaries and I recently watched one on yoga and one of the featured yogis said “It’s difficult to find yourself”. So, if a yogi who is a master of the body. mind, and spirit says it difficult how do we do it? How do we figure out who we genuinely, truly are?
#1 PAY ATTENTION
What activities made you happy when you were younger? What experiences have made you feel energized and alive? What ideas and thoughts keep popping into your head?
Pay attention to these! Write them down if you have to.
I loved running around playing as a kid but I hated gym class in school. This love of moving my body and the science behind it brought me from a degree in psychology to a degree in human kinetics. This desire to move but a discomfort with team sports brought me to running. The idea of starting my own business ran through my mind for years before I took the first step of registering my business’ name. I get jazzed up by being part of events like this one today.
Pay attention to what may seem like coincidences. I had 3 speakers deliver a similar message to me before I finally realized it was time to listen. Or, like when I was in the middle of a book recently and had to put it own because it felt like it had been written for me to read at that very moment. Pay attention! I’ve started to tune into these moments more and I’m learning that I have acted so much out of fear in the past and I don’t want live like that anymore.
#2 Don’t apologize
You are a unique person who deserves happiness as much as anyone else. Don’t be sorry for pursuing what makes you happy. If you want to climb a mountain but your partner doesn’t, do it anyway! My husband only runs when he has to, but I choose to sign up for races. I read Tudor biographies for fun. I took a lapdance workshop because it looked fun and interesting (and it was so much harder than I expected!) He told me a few months ago that it’s not my job to make him happy. It’s my job to support him in him making himself happy. I have since stopped apologizing for hitting the road for 15km a week and for attending fitness conferences every year. They make me happy.
#3 Create a supportive environment
I say create it because it’s an active and intentional process. Find those people who are fun to be around and who bring out the best in you. (slide of my tribe)Finding yourself is difficult and we all need encouragement, so find those cheerleaders. They can be family members or friends or they might even be people who haven’t ever met in person. My tribe includes my fitness bestie, a spiritual athlete, my business coach, an author devoted to spreading kindness, Instagram accounts dedicated to promoting self love and body acceptance, motivational speakers, and especially my kids. I want them to be their best selves and I need to set a positive example for them.
I choose to read books that support me. I listen to songs that motivate me. I repeat affirmations and mantras that help me push through that fear.
#4 FEAR LESS
Don’t worry about being fearless all the time. Choose to focus on fearing a little less right now.
What have you always wanted to do but haven’t? Sign up for that yoga class today! Seriously, during the break use Mel Robbin’s #5SecondRule and use your smartphone to register before you stop yourself! That’s how I ended up here in front of you right now. I saw the Facebook post looking for speakers and thought why the heck not?!? It’s a little scary to be standing here but it’s also exhilarating!
Your journey is uniquely yours so it won’t look or feel the same as mine or that of the person sitting next to you. It’s up to you to choose to fear less. Pay attention to what gives you energy and purpose. Don’t apologize for pursuing what makes you happy. Gather that tribe of supporters around you and just be yourself, fear lessly.