It took me over a decade to realise that living an authentic life is the real key to a happy, thriving, joy-filled one.
I went through a period of bullying for a few years when I was in my early teens at school.
I was picked on, called names, and generally harassed most days.
And I felt a lot of shame around the fact this was happening to me, which is why I never told anyone about it. Plus, I didn’t believe anyone could actually help me. I thought I needed to figure it out on my own.
But it got bad enough that I began dreading going to school. I’d often pretend I was sick so I could stay home.
The girls didn’t want to be me, and the boys didn’t want to be with me.
I kept looking around at the other girls, thinking about what I could do to get them all to change their minds.
Maybe if I straighten my hair, or put some make up on, things will get better. If I wear cooler trousers, or have a nicer backpack, they won’t tease me so much. Maybe if I’m louder, funnier, or prettier, they’ll accept me.
When you’re a child, all you desperately want is to be liked, and to feel like you fit in. That’s what many of us spend so much time and energy thinking about and trying to create in our world.
Back then, that was all I hoped for.
Those scars and insecurities that form in those early years usually stick with us for many years after; especially if we don’t confront them and allow them to fester beneath the surface.
I’ve done a lot of shadow work over the years, but even just writing this chapter is still triggering memories, feelings, and experiences that I’d rather not remember.
As children, we want others to think we’re cool. So we look around at the ones who already are, and we think about what we can do, say, or wear, that’s going to help us be accepted by the crowd.
And many of us continue to behave similarly as adults; only the doing, saying, and wearing has changed.
We feel like we’re missing out if we don’t get wasted on the weekends, go to the summer music festivals, have drunken meaningless sex, hit Vegas with our friends, have a boyfriend, or own a Chanel handbag.
We feel like we’re not good enough if we don’t drop $40,000 on a wedding, drive a fancy sports car, get lip fillers, or bleach our teeth; when seemingly everyone around us does.
And this is how we easily get caught up in, and become trapped in the system, along with the culture of more = better.
But doing things just because other people are doing them isn’t going to guarantee you happiness. And just because those people look happy, it doesn’t mean they genuinely are.
Trying to be someone other than the woman you truly are at heart, is a fast track to a miserable, unfulfilling, hollow life.
We think those new boobs, that house, or that man on our arm is going to help us fit in and be accepted and liked by society.
And we allow the society we find ourselves placed in to determine the boundaries for what is and is not desirable. Then we spend our whole lives trying to make sure we are judged as desirable.
We choose to play the game, and we think we’re playing to win. But we fail to realise that there are no real winners when we make the choice at the start to believe we’re not good enough as we are.
We lose the moment we choose to play.
Compliance causes a shocking realization that must be registered by all women. That is, to be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves. It is a tormenting tension and it must be borne, but the choice is clear.
– Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves
To dedicate your life to fitting in with the crowd, means to choose to die a slow death, instead of choosing to live.
You were born to run wild, untamed, and free in this world. Free from the suffocating box society does its best to trick you into.
Don’t wear the labels they give you.
Don’t hide who you really are.
Because you don’t have to play the game.
The truth is, it takes far more courage to be the rebellious, wild woman who stands out, than it does to bend, break, and mold yourself to fit.
Find the courage to embrace your own beautiful lines, curves, and colours, and learn not only to accept them, but to love them. In spite of the fact that our culture does its best to teach you not to – the world will see your beauty, and your light.
Make a conscious choice to take off the mask you’ve hidden behind for so long, and you open your arms wide to your flaws, quirks, and gifts. Allow your authenticity and raw humanness to shine through.
This is what gives those around you permission and inspiration to do the same.
You see, rebellion requires deep courage.
This is how we begin to create a new culture where being your wild, uncensored, feminine self is not only celebrated, but encouraged.
By daring to live, love, and lead our one life differently, we can create a wide-reaching ripple effect that extends to our generation of women, and the next one.
Your choices matter. And you do always have a choice.
Allow your wisdom to guide you as you choose.
Quitting a job that made me miserable, designing a life that I love, and embarking on my quest to remember the forgotten way of the feminine, is what helped me shed those final layers of conditioning that hung around my shoulders; the burning desire to fit in, and be seen as desirable.
The more I commit to doing my shadow work, and deepen my learning when it comes to personal growth and feminine wisdom, the wider the gap grows between the liberated woman I am now, and the lifeless woman I used to be.
And it deeply concerns and saddens me when I think about how many women there are – knowingly or unknowingly – who find themselves trapped in my old shoes.
It’s a funny thing; when I stopped trying to fit in and play by the rules, and decided to pave my own way, other women began to not only notice, but also want to follow my lead.
The girl who never quite belonged or felt good enough, has grown into a woman who other women now look up to, and are inspired by.
I spent my teenage years trying to force this, and the moment I stopped caring, let go, and went and did my own thing, I drew it towards me with ease, despite the fact that I no longer even desired the approval or admiration of others.
This is because authenticity is beautiful, magic, and magnetic.
It’s easy to say, and difficult to put into practice; but being and living an authentic life becomes much easier when you confront your shadows, connect to your inner wisdom, and embrace your divine feminine essence.
This will enable you to peel away your own layers of conditioning, discover the woman you are underneath it all, and learn to embrace and love her for everything she is, instead of what she’s not.
When you learn to love who you are on a soul level, you will finally begin to feel beautiful, worthy, and enough on the inside. And the stronger this inner feeling grows, the more confident and comfortable you’ll feel about yourself both inside, and out.
It always begins within.
Discovering your authentic nature, releasing her, so she can run wild and free is the real key to everything you seek out there.
Amazing friendships, a sacred partner, a thriving career, a healthy relationship with your body and food, an abundance mindset, true happiness, and inner peace.
When you make a choice to live an authentic life on your own terms, and journey inwards to meet and love all of yourself, you will find wholeness.
You will find freedom.
You will find you.