I’ve been thinking about what it means to lead an authentic life lately. The words “authentic life” have been buzzing around the internet and in news articles lately, but what does it really mean?
Last September when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I knew my life would be changed forever but I had no idea the depth and breadth of those changes. In the nine months that followed I learned arguably the most profound lesson of my life and ironically, it was so darn simple. I learned thats it’s okay to not be perfect. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It is, but it lead to so much more.
After my diagnosis was made public so many friends stepped up to help me and I’m eternally grateful for each and every one of them. For me, letting people help me meant I was weak, that I had failed, that there was something wrong with me. And apparently I needed to prove to my family and the rest of the world that I was strong and smart and brave and that I was capable of making it on my own. Looking back on my life now I can see where I created, or was drawn toward situations that allowed me to prove that again and again, situations that allowed me to rescue myself, and to be my own hero. I used to curse the things that “happened to me” like having alcoholic, helpless, victimized family members who convinced me I was stupid, not having enough money, a horrible contentious divorce, men who lied, cheated or deceived me for years, or life threatening health issues. No doubt about it, they were tough situations.
But now I see those situations differently. I see them as blessings, as a repeated version of the same lesson that took me a really long time to learn. A lesson that I apparently wasn’t going to learn any other way. I also now understand that those things didn’t happen “to me”. They just happened. Sometimes other people’s issues aren’t about us, they’re about them. We get to decide how we perceive or react to them, but ultimately, they’re not about us.
As a matter of fact, ninety-nine percent of what goes on in our world it isn’t about us or is completely out of our control. What my mother thinks of me or my boyfriend lying to me are painful when taken personally, but I truly believe, they weren’t about me. It sounds contradictory doesn’t it? You might be thinking, “of course it’s about me, I’m the one who has to deal with it!” But really, they’re expressing something inside of them. They are expressing their fears and opinions through their own filter or view of the world. I can be the best me I know how to be and those around me will still think and do whatever they want. That’s a profound concept, but if you can allow yourself to absorb it and fully incorporate it, it can free you from worrying about and trying to control what other people think of you.
This doesn’t mean that people are bad, or evil or that you should avoid them. It just means that we are all doing our best at making our way in the world. We are all working through our own issues and life lessons. We are all going to stumble, none of us are experts at this life thing. None of us, not me, not you, not your family, not your boss… no one.
So from now on, I’m going to give myself a little room for imperfection. I’m going to embrace the idea that it’s not just okay but ideal to be a work in progress. And that it’s okay to need help now and then. I’m going to support myself and others through our ups and downs, our dreams and our fears and never be afraid to be who I really am. Because maybe when we are allowed to be ourselves, we’ll discover that being imperfect IS the perfect way to be.
Your comments and shares are greatly appreciated!