Quirks & Curves
Growing up my dad said things like "I am someone different at work than I am at home", and "I change when I come home".
For my years, I subscribed to this philosophy. When I first starting working in the real world, making real dollars, I would try and be someone else I wasn't. From 9-5, I would dress a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way. In many respects, I tried to be the type of person that I believed I needed to be in a work context.
Yet, try as I might, the real me would leak out. When I wasn't aware or distracted by other things, the part of me that I tried to desperately to hide would show up. Things like dancing at my desk to the music is my head; showing up in meeting wearing my favourite pair of Chucks, rather than high heels; spilling red sauce down the front of my white shirt and not noticing it; running late to meetings because I got talking on the phone with a client about her weekend; getting visibly emotional about feedback and criticism.
Reading this list you might be inclined to think "how is that bad? What's wrong with that?" And the truth is nothing. Nothing is wrong with that. Except the fact that for a long time I believed who I was when I wasn't "on" was wrong and bad.
My dad isn't the only one who touted the words of being different at work and at home. I heard that everywhere. I still hear it.
"Don't show too much emotion"
"Don't get personal"
"Be logical. Keep the touchy feely stuff out of work"
How much of a disservice do we do to ourselves by trying to compartmentalize who we are? How much damage do we cause when we force ourselves into tiny boxes, created by someone else, to be seen in a certain way?
For much of my life, I tried, desperately to be someone else. To fit in. To create the image of myself that I wanted everyone to believe. Yet, try as I might, it never quite fit. It's like that perfect dress you try on at the store and beg it to fit you. You will it to fit your body type and curves. Except it doesn't. At all. Regardless, you buy the dress anyways because you're convinced that you can make it work, only to have it sit on the hanger indefinitely.
In service of trying to fit in and be someone I wasn't, I lost the thread of who I was. I became lost in the murky waters of what everyone else wanted and projected. I drifted from one ideal to another, never sure if it was the right one. Never sure if this was the "one" for me. Ultimately, I never knew who I was, what I wanted, who I wanted to be, or how I showed up as my best.
My work of the last several years has been to find myself again and claiming that woman. It hasn't been easy. Somedays, I feel lost, slightly out of control and confused. Is this something I like or is this just something that I should like? Is this how I want to act, or is this learned behaviour from another place in time? Other days I smile at myself in the mirror, give myself the thumbs up and a "got get'em gurrrl!"
What have I learned so far into this journey of reclaiming me?
1. There is no separation between me and the environment in which I find myself. I am me at work, I am me at home and I me everywhere I find myself. Showing up at me is important. Committing to that is a daily goal and intention.
2. When we are able to take our wholeselves to work, magical things happen. There is no pretending - no hiding. We simply are. And that's beautiful.
3. The work is simple but not easy. Time, experience and intentionally showing up are the ingredients that make this recipe work the best.
4. It's a practice. The practice of showing up as me, whatever that looks like, however I define it. Emphasis on the "I".
5. Russ Harris, author and psychological researcher says "get passionate about the process and less about the outcome". Me being fully me, at every turn, will happen. One day I will wake up and realize that I haven't thought about being someone else, doing something that is connected to someone else, or being anyone different. Until that day, I will continue to focus on the process, and not the outcome.
Here's the bottom line. Until we learn who we are, like, truly learn who we are, nothing else matters. We must embrace ourselves, our wholeselves, quirks, curves.
How are you showing up as you today?