It's the one thing we all truly desire and yet can be the most difficult thing to attain. In fact everything we do is focused upon creating connection, a sense of belonging, everything from how we dress to what we post on social media. But most of us never feel like we belong.
We do our best to try and fit in, to create an identity that seems to match those we wish to connect with, but "fitting in" means we are squeezing our big unique shiny selves into an industrially molded box, something that says, "Here I am, I'm this", whatever "this" is- the perfectly patient stay-at-home mom, the fitness guru, the perpetually positive person, the successful real estate agent.
Here's the problem though.
We are all unique and weird and usually have been broken in some way along the path of our life. We've made mistakes, experienced loss and pain, and at some point faced something we were ashamed to share with others because we didn't want that one thing to color their idea of who we are.
Sure, we can fit into certain boxes somewhat but no one box ever fits ALL of who we are and we're scared to death to actually share ALL of ourselves for fear of rejection.
So instead we play it small.
We pretend to be something much less than we are, not sharing all our weirdness or brokenness so we can fit in with our chosen group where everyone else is doing the exact same thing and no one really truly gets to know all of anyone else who's in it.
Sad isn't it?
Wouldn't it be far more interesting to really get to know people on a deeper level? To accept people for who they are, weirdness, brokenness, mistakes, and passions, the whole person, rather than harshly judge people for just being themselves?
What's the point of hiding who you are?
Fitting in does not create connection and does not breed belonging. The limitation of just fitting in means you will never feel like you belong because you'll always have that dark secret you're afraid to share and that dark secret could be something lots of others in the box with you have also experienced and really need some "me too" shout-outs in order to create connection but those shout-outs never happen because there's too much hiding going on.
The truth is, your dark secrets probably aren't that dark. We're not talking serial killers here people... We're talking random events involved with living a life or parts of who you are, parts other people might find pretty cool or can identify with in some way.
What are you missing out on by not being 100% real?
When I was in high school, I was freely me and was criticized for it. Back in the late 80's/early 90's when being a tree-hugging hippie was not a cool thing to be, I tried wearing my hair in pigtail braids and thought it was super cute until one of my friends spent the whole day calling me "butt-head" because of the part in the back of my hair. I wore my hip-hugger bell bottoms exactly once before someone made fun of me for those too.
Thankfully I didn't let that stop me for too long and you can frequently find me in hip-hugger bell bottoms today with pigtail braids. I personally think it feels perfectly "me" and I met a woman at a restaurant once who came up to me in my pigtail braids and stated we needed to be best friends because she liked to wear her hair like that too. That was probably 10 or 11 years ago and we're still friends today.
But I have missed out on enjoying parties because I was afraid to let loose and dance even though I really wanted to. You see, someone once told me I danced "like a Brazilian" and proceeded to make me feel very uncomfortable while he attempted hitting on me, which made me feel like I had been too provocative, so after that, I held back and wouldn't dance at all. That one lasted for years.
Other things I've been shy about sharing include having filed bankruptcy in my mid twenties, having my car repossessed in my early 30's when I let a boyfriend take over my finances and found out the hard way he was taking my money and paying his bills instead of mine, or that I have lots of stretch marks across my belly from my first pregnancy even though I delivered a perfectly healthy and beautiful 10.5 pound baby boy. It took me years before I threw that shame out the window and braved my way to the beach in a bikini again- stretch marks and all.
Another one has been my deep passion for all things spiritual. I always feared accusations of being a "hippie" or too "woo-woo", of not being taken seriously, or worse yet, being considered some kind of devil-worshipper, which could not possibly be further from the truth. Now though, I've found that my spiritual beliefs don't offend the ones who "get" me. In fact, some of my clients have requested I guide them through past-life regressions or perform intuitive readings, or connect them with my astrologist. They ask about the books I'm reading on energetic frequencies, spiritual healing, crystals and stones, or clearing chakra blocks. The ones who aren't interested in it, don't judge me either way because they know I'm deeply connected spiritually and that means I honor whatever their spiritual beliefs happen to be as well and include their beliefs in my work with them as their coach.
So let yourself be free... share who you truly are, every bit of yourself. You'll find that the perfectly patient mom still yells at her kids and might be struggling in her marriage and locks herself in the bathroom and cries so her kids won't see she's having a hard day. The fitness guru may have been an overweight kid or might be the only healthy one in a family full of people who have struggled with illness, they may have lost loved ones, or be battling depression. That perpetually positive person may be in a toxic relationship or a survivor of child abuse. The successful real estate agent might be buried in debt and desperately struggling with high stress levels and anxiety.
Don't judge, just accept. Support the people you care about and allow yourself to be truly YOU.
Acceptance and loving support is what brings the feeling of truly belonging, of real connection. It's not your clothes, your hair, the color you decide to paint your house, or the car you drive. In fact, the deepest level of connection with others often comes from the things you're hiding, the things you're afraid to share.
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