It’s been an emotional journey writing this. It was a hard post to write because it resurfaced the many times I have felt deeply hurt as well as tenderly loved.
My family has always been very loving and accepting. Between the 6 kids and my parents there was not really any mean teasing or sarcasm- just silly jokes, tickles and lots of time together. Growing up, I felt so comfortable being me with all my strengths, weaknesses, quirks- everything.
Back in my single dating days, I distinctly remember trying to act cute, funny, intelligent, mysterious- whatever it was- to be sure to capture and hold guys’ interest (ugh). But when my husband and I were dating it was such a surreal experience because from the get-go I didn’t do anything to try to make him love me- He just did! I was just me and he couldn’t get enough of who I was! That was one of the reasons I knew we were meant to be together forever. There was no faking it to impress one another. We naturally just impressed each other by being ourselves.
I love being with my sweet 2 year old because she is so accepting. She doesn’t care whether I look homely, have a bunch of blue wax on my lip and chin, or if I am dressed up. She doesn’t mind if I am feeling happy, silly, or sad. She loves me and embraces me. Her unconditional love at this stage is priceless.
Because I have been loved in amazing ways throughout my life, I have grown-up with a good dose of self-esteem and healthy confidence in who I am and what I am worth. But there have still been times all throughout my life when I have felt out of place, not enough, and uncomfortable in my own skin. A few to date:
- Feeling the need to be rich, wear the right brands, or be “going out with someone” in order to be accepted
- Having my best friend make fun of the way I talk or act annoyed by my mannerisms
- Seeing guys ask all these other girls to dance, but not me
- Being totally overwhelmed and afraid to speak in my Spanish Grammar and Lit class (surrounded by RMs)
- Being the only woman in the group who does not hire a maid to clean her house
- Interviewing for a PR firm and feeling like I have to be a certain personality to be desired
- Being teased about my hearing loss
- Hearing co-workers gossip about everyone else in the office and wondering what they will say about me when I walk away
- Being yelled at for a small mistake in the office
All of these experiences have invoked that feeling… the feeling that there is something wrong with me. “I have weaknesses, therefore I am not loved or valued.” Fighting the tears welling up. Just wanting my mom. Feeling like a little kid who just got made fun of. Feeling like my veins are on fire. Feeling like I am going to pee my pants because I feel so attacked. Feeling so uncomfortable with who I am with that I want to run away. Feeling like I have to impress. Feeling like I have to fit a mold to be accepted. Feeling the icky-ness of trying to be something I’m not. Feeling bad for being me.
“Live authentically. Why would you continue to compromise something that’s beautiful to create something that is fake?”
An amazing woman (lucky for me, my boss) said something to me a few days ago that completely touched me. Healed me. We were on the telephone and I was being open and honest with her, sharing my heart. I was expressing how an interaction with someone recently had made me feel so emotionally unsafe, so undervalued, and so uncomfortable. We began talking about character traits and she said to me, “You are a very gentle person, it’s just who you are. And I love that.”
A surge of warmth spread through my body and I was emotionally overwhelmed (for the rest of the night actually). I had never been described as gentle before. That sincere unique compliment pierced a part of me that I’ve reaized has been subconsciously vulnerable and hurting. Looking back, I’ve always felt safe around those who are dearest to me- a constant unconditional love from my husband, family and close friends throughout my life. But I have not been so genuinely valued before in the professional world. There has not never been a sincere safety there.
In fact I vividly remember the way I felt after a few interviews with PR Firms right out of college. I just thought, “I am not cut out for this. I enjoyed studying it and its time to move on. I am not the personality they want. I’m not a forward, salesman like business woman. I am going to stop trying and caring and just be a mom.” I place an incredible value on motherhood. I believe it is my most important calling in this life, so it’s not that I felt that being “just a mom” was unimportant. Not in the slightest. I just felt like the qualities I possessed were only fit for motherhood, not business. I felt worthless in the PR industry and sad that I worked so hard throughout college to be qualified to pursue this field and nothing was coming of it. I was ready to release that pursuit into the universe and not worry about it anymore.
So I cannot describe to you in words what I feel now. To know that someone who is an influential professional in my industry and whom does not have the ‘obligation’ to care about, love, or nurture me, actually SEES me for ME and appreciates it wholeheartedly? I actually have a boss who doesn’t want me to be a cookie cutter employee? She wants me to be my gentle sensitive self and embrace that? Gentleness is valued in business? Wow. Healing is the only word that comes to me.
I believe that world needs more people genuinely appreciating each other. Whether it is your family, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your neighbor, or the clerk at the grocery store- lift them up and let them know that they are enough, more so, let them know that they are magnificent just the way they are. Mollie Marti said,
“Let others see their own greatness when looking in your eyes.”
I realize that confidence and fulfillment come from the inside, But there is something incredible that happens when someone openly gives you the safety and freedom to be totally and completely you- when someone embraces your natural unique goodness. Because of 3 sentences my boss took the time to share, I’ve been reminded that I uniquely have something to offer. The world needs me just the way I am. And it needs you too. For me it was in the professional world that I needed a little extra love and encouragement. But for you it might be as a parent, son or daughter, friend, spouse, sibling, etc Whether you are a mother or father, business professional, whether you are single or married, or if you are child- remember that God created us with different talents and skills, strengths and weakness so that we can bless each other’s lives and build each other up. Don’t ever think that who you are is not enough.
Challenge: Embrace beautiful you. And embrace the beautiful person next to you-openly. Give them the comfort and freedom to truly release and be themselves by verbally telling them why you value them.