“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be”. – May Sarton
Once upon a time, I was a person always craving attention (yes,more than I do now). I felt like my family didn’t understand me because I was always so different. I am the middle of three children and always felt like I had to fight to be noticed.
This prevalent thought followed me to school like Mary’s little lamb. I felt like all of my friends were….. everything that I was not. The boys loved them. They had better grades. Prettier skin. Anything that I could find that I lacked.
One thing that I did pride myself on was my ability to make people smile. It worked with my mom when she would come home from a long day. It helped when I would give random hugs to my classmates and teachers. I would do my best daily to make someone smile.
It brought me joy until another conundrum presented itself: not everyone likes the happy girl.
Oh yes! It’s true. There are people in the world that will do anything to pop your pretty red balloon. Mrs. Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, calls them “joy-killers”; people who get a kick out of discouraging people from a positive path.
When I would spread sunshine and cheer, some would say that I was a phony while others would mock my enthusiastic countenance. At the time, I was unaware of jones-itis and how severe my case was, that I began to stop being my self and began to become more solemn. (PSA: People-pleasing is one of the leading symptoms of jones-itis).
After years of battling with this disease, I began seeking help by reading self-help books. One of my favorite authors is Great Mother-Iyanla Vanzant. In her book, One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Ms. Vanzant speaks on authenticity- loving, embracing and accepting who you are-flaws and all.
Fast forward to today:
While helping out at my daughter’s school, I saw some ladies that I had gone to school with and was very elated to see them. As we talked, I encouraged them to join the PTA and sign up for after-school programs. They began to become more relaxed and more interested in what I was relaying to them. In every conversation that I had each person told me how I was still such a bubbly personality and that I had not changed one bit.
That made me feel so great about myself!
My authentic self is joyful. Yes, I have bad days, but most times I’m pretty sunny. Even though I would allow the “joy-killers” to lick the red off of my apple, the people that I cheered up along the way still remembered me.
When I allowed myself to be joyful and exude my happiness, others felt it and became more relaxed and excited. Our school had a great sign-up for PTA and after-school, and I was able to meet Ms. Sheri So Fine (but that’s another story).
There will always be people who criticize and ridicule you,but they don’t mean a thang when you are true to yourself.