Welcome to a brand new year, my friend. Often, at this time of year, we hear the expression “New Year; New You.” I’d like to suggest an alternative, as you see in the title of this piece, “New Year; TRUE You.”
Yep, you don’t need to reinvent yourself. You don’t need to change who you are. There’s not a better you.
There is, I am certain, an authentic you who is 100% lovable and acceptable.
This writing is my permission slip to you to live the life of that true you!
In Bronnie Ware’s famous book, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” the first one she writes about is: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Sometimes we humans spend our lives being more concerned with fitting in or belonging than we are in being true to who we really are.
As a young person, I experienced that longing to belong to such a degree that at some point it felt like I had lost myself. As the years passed and I entered my late twenties, I grew deeply depressed – though on the outside I remained bubbly and fun because that’s who I thought people wanted me to be.
Looking back, I see that it was repression of my authentic self that was causing the depression. I call that person “Cardboard Sherry” because she feels so flat, so uninspired.
Thankfully, I was led to meditation and creativity. As I began an intentional path of presence and true creative expression – connecting to writing, art, dance, quirky events and unconventional living – the depression lifted.
I was buoyed by living my life. I’m now 58 years old and I feel more alive and more myself than ever before.
One of my favorite memories of 2022 was a costume party I attended called the Edwardian Ball. Something about that event just feels like the real “me” inside. I had donned a pink bobbed wig, green crinoline, fingerless gloves and bubblegum-colored combat boots to attend that ball with my beau back in the spring.
Dancing in the historic ballroom filled with colorful and creative Edward Gorey-esque characters – San Franciscans and kindred spirits from all over – I felt as if I’d fully come home to myself.
I can still feel that pure joy as I write to you about it months later. I’ve worn that pink wig a number of times since then as a reminder that there is a part of me inside who wants to come out and play.
I had another moment more recently, last week in fact, that felt 100% me. I had set the table for a holiday meal and delighted in using a festive tablecloth, some dishware from the 1960’s that was my mom’s, fresh red and white flowers and some fun napkin rings. Later, laughing with my clan, sipping some sparkly water with lime, I realized I was perfectly comfortable in myself. I was so happy being me and being surrounded by my family, whom I project were also being exactly themselves.
I’ve realized over the years that the true sense of belonging comes not from pretending to be like others, but from being 100% myself.
It comes from belonging to my own heart and belonging in my own life. It comes from belonging with others who are committed to living their best, most authentic life.
This morning I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times about a politician who fabricated stories of his life. (Don’t worry, there’s no political angle in what I am about to share; just some commentary on living lives true to ourselves!)
David Brooks, the author of the piece wrote, “…For most of us, the life narrative we tell both the world and ourselves gives us a stable sense of identity. It helps us name what we’ve learned from experience and what meaning our life holds.”
What I hear in his statement is that we feel meaning by telling ourselves the narrative of our lives. And, I would add, by LIVING that narrative out loud. (Also, by sharing it with others!)
Later in the article, Brooks said, “I wonder if the era of the short-attention spans and the online avatars is creating a new character type: the person who doesn’t experience life as an accumulation over decades, but just as a series of disjointed performances in the here and now, with an echo of hollowness inside.”
Reading that paragraph made me sad. It circled my own thoughts back to Bronnie Ware and people who die, regretting that they never really lived a life true to themselves. I suspect there might be that hollow feeling.
I don’t want that for anyone!
What about YOU? Are you allowing yourself to live a life that is truly YOURS? If you haven’t been, can you let this moment, right here and now, be the invitation and permission slip to do so? I hope so!
I’m happy to help. Join my “Permission and Belonging” five-day challenge.
Here’s to the new year and the TRUE YOU!