Let me tell you something, trying to be the truest, most vibrant version of the REAL you that’s inside is messy, scary work.
The past seven years of my life have been a journey inward, asking myself “Who am I REALLY?” so that I can build a life around that true self.
It didn’t happen all at once; it was more like a slow unveiling.
Every year that I got older, it was like I was able to shed a new layer of myself that wasn’t quite me.
This year the layer that pretended to like the same things as my friends in college.
The next year the layer that convinced myself I wasn’t possibly an artist.
The next year the protective layer that tried to hide how emotional and sensitive I truly am.
It’s like when you’ve painted over multiple nail polish colors and you keep cotton swabbing each one away until you get down to your natural nail and you say “Ohhh… so that’s what they look like under there.” (What’s that? No one else but me does that? Okay, just checking.)
Anyway, I’m always meditating on this idea of revealing our true selves (as you’ve probably noticed by now) so I was ruminating about all of this when I came across a video from Brené Brown talking about “The Anatomy Of Trust.”
It was fascinating, and it got me thinking about who we entrust with our true selves. Who do we allow ourselves to BE TRULY SEEN in front of?
That’s when this important question came to me, which I promptly posed to my Instagram community:
“What's the one thing you love about yourself that you MOST FEAR being rejected for?”
It occurred to me that all the times I’ve felt the most understood, the most truly seen in my life were the times when I revealed something about myself that I feared being rejected for, only to be warmly embraced instead.
For me, that means showing my deep sensitivity, something I used to be so afraid to show people for fear of looking weak or weird or for making people uncomfortable.
Throughout my entire life, this is the one personality trait that has made me feel like a bit of a black sheep. I love the cathartic feeling of a good cry or empathizing with a character in a story so much that their emotions feel real to me. I can sense a stranger’s joy or pain simply by being near them and love pondering life’s biggest questions for hours with a friend over coffee. That kind of depth and emotion is so much a part of who I am, and yet growing up I felt that there was something about it that wasn’t quite “normal.” So I hid that part of myself for a long time.
But in doing that — in hiding the things that make us feel like US — we rob ourselves of the true joy of being accepted and understood.
As Glennon Doyle says in her book Love Warrior:
“I'm not a mess but a deeply feeling person in a messy world. I explain that now, when someone asks me why I cry so often, I say, 'For the same reason I laugh so often--because I'm paying attention.' I tell them that we can choose to be perfect and admired or to be real and loved. We must decide.”
How beautiful is that (and how true.) We can pretend we’re something we’re not because we think it will make others like us more (or at least not reject us) but we can’t do that AND be loved as our true selves.
It’s a choice we must make to lean into our authenticity, even if it’s scary.
The irony that emerges in embracing your inner black sheep is that you become a beacon of light for others like you to find you. You end up ringing so true and shining so bright that is allows people to see themselves in your being… which ultimately leads to more belonging, not less.
You may lose the few friends or connections that “don’t get you” but if you shine long enough and bright enough, trust me you will attract many more that in fact DO.
This is why it’s SO important for me to make sure that I weave my deep sensitivity into all the creative work that I do. It’s why I tackle these big, juicy topics in this newsletter. It’s why I share my emotions on Instagram. It’s why I directly declare that this community is for soulful creatives — people like you who aren’t afraid of a little self-reflection.
It’s actually the filter I use when determining what projects to pursue. I simply ask myself: Which of these ideas allows me to share the black sheep parts of me?
This week, my challenge to you is to consider the idea that:
Your inner black sheep holds the key to your superpower.
That thing you’re afraid to show the world — that you’re irreverent or idealistic or weird or nerdy or sad or quiet — within that thing not only lies your ability to stand in your uniqueness but your ability to feel understood.
You are CRAZY special and the world wants to know you. Let us see you for who you really are.
When I think about how I want to be remembered at the end of my life, the thing that most comes to mind is that I want people to say “she was fiercely and courageously herself.” What about you?