By: Tasnim Shahjahan, IATG ContributorAugust 31, 2016
One of the scariest things in the world is being your true self.
What if you’re different from 'the norm'? What is ‘the norm’? What if people criticize you or don't accept you? Where will you go from there? Are you going to try to change yourself to fit in? Or are you going to create your own identity?Why do we tone ourselves down? Why do we hide things from certain people? Why do we try to change ourselves for others?
Why do we choose to deprive the world of our amazing spirit and shut out our own light?
I believe that every soul has a contribution to this earth. Some people wrongly believe that they don’t possess any talent within themselves, but it’s there.
Fear of criticism is something everyone struggles with in some capacity. For some, the struggle for authenticity is truly a life or death situation, based on your family or environment. There can be a great deal of intolerance, and we as humans adapt and accommodate discrimination by changing ourselves to fit within our environment. It doesn't make it "right," but it’s how we’re programmed to survive; we adapt to our environment.
It’s a privilege to be accepted as you truly are. It’s a privilege to be loved in your true form.
But how do you get there? Finding that inner voice is difficult. Empowering yourself is not something society tells us to do. We’re trained to be critical of ourselves. We’re trained to focus on what’s lacking. If you’re brown skinned, you’re supposed to want pale skin. If you have white skin, you’re supposed to want tanned skin. If you have curly hair, you envy those with straight hair. If you have straight hair, you envy curly hair. We’re trained by society to want whatever we lack. So much so that Shakespeare used the word "want" to mean "lack," but it has now evolved to mean "desire".
We’re trained to believe that everyone is special and can be anything, except for ourselves.
If you’ve been criticized the majority of your life, if you struggle with a fusion of multiple cultures, if you feel you are the minority, if you have body image issues, learning to love yourself will be difficult.
Sharing your insecurities with a trusted friend helps to build confidence. You can meditate and reflect on your own thoughts (and that is the first step), but sometimes your thoughts may be short sighted or misguided, because you don't have another perspective. Self awareness has to go beyond that.
Having someone know of your deepest hurt or fear and loving you still will help you learn that it is okay to have insecurities. Everyone has them; you are loved and valued regardless.
Take some time this week to meet up with a friend and get vulnerable! Just like Tasnim says. sometimes a little outside perspective can help clear up our thoughts!
Tasnim loves to travel, eat good food, and be around good company. She collects magnets, scarves, local art, and memories. She requires sunlight and fresh air to function. In her spare time, she works in global health. You can read more about her thoughts and adventures on her blog. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.