What is the price we pay when we care more about fitting in and being accepted, than allowing our heart to determine who we are in this world? What do we sacrifice when our fear of judgement dictates who we choose to be and how we live our lives? Are we repeatedly trying to mould ourselves into a square shape, when really our natural shape is that of a diamond or a star?
It is true that we feel safe when we feel like we belong. And yes, we may feel comfort and security when we feel accepted by our peers, colleagues, family or society. But when needing to belong means silencing our heart in the back seat, are we truly experiencing the beautiful gift of life? Are we living our lives the way our souls intended?
Allow me to share a personal story. One rainy day, my seven-year old daughter excitedly came home from school and announced that the following day would be “crazy hair day” at school. That afternoon, she joyfully allowed her imagination to come to life as she created a colourful and spunky hair style. With neon-coloured twists in her hair, she left for school in the morning in eager anticipation. But within seconds of entering the school, my beautiful daughter’s face became contorted with a mix of fear and despair. To our surprise, only a small number of kids had done their hair. Tears began rolling down her rosy cheeks as she frantically pulled out the brightly-coloured coils from her hair. She was terrified to stand out. Mortified at the thought of not fitting in. Her fun and creative heart was banished to the back seat.
A deep, piercing pain seared through my heart. At this young age, our little girl had adopted a fear-based understanding of how life works. Deny what is in the heart and mould yourself to fit in. I understand my child. She is my mirror.
Sue Dumais — intuitive healer and bestselling author — often says: “What other people think of you is not your business”. I love these words. But unfortunately, the opposite has been true for me for most of my life.
As a shy school girl, I preferred to be completely invisible, than to stand out in any way. As a young teen, I was offered a ticket into the cool girls/bad boys gang. Smoking weed, boozing, getting kicked out of school and other delinquent-type activities were a small price to pay. I belonged. That’s all that mattered.
Even in my adult years, I can see how my fear of being judged has played out. For decades, my fear of not fitting in was the shot-caller CEO in charge of determining the “me” I shared with the world. I had built an attractive facade, which the real me hid behind. A desperate attempt to avoid the fiery burn of being judged. But underneath this strong and slightly abrasive facade is a more gentle, vulnerable and sensitive soul. A heart that feels most fulfilled when in service to others. But by hiding behind my carefully-constructed facade, I never fully embraced my authentic self. Never dared to truly let my soul shine.
Not so long ago, I witnessed an intriguing image while in meditation. A slumped over angel. Beautifully sketched with elegant lines. Her wings folded down, her body curled up and her face buried in her lap. I recognized this graceful angel as my soul. Shut out and cast aside, my soul had been patiently waiting for me to embrace my authentic self. To rise up and expand my wings. To soar.
(Gaston Roulstone by Unsplash)
Immersed in a pool of sadness, I felt the grief of missing out on the riches that life is ready to offer if I were to bravely allow my heart to lead. The sorrow of not experiencing the beauty that comes from letting my soul sing.
So the question then arises, how can I expect my beautiful seven-year old to confidently own and stand in her light? To let her soul sing like a beautiful angel. The answer comes in the sentiment of a famous quote that is commonly attributed to Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Change starts within us, not in the external world. Peace starts with us. Love starts with us. And confidence for young girls and boys starts with us — the parents, grandparents, coaches, teachers, and so forth.
For a moment, I encourage you to disrobe of your job titles and social labels. The numbers-driven salesperson, the powerhouse corporate director, the well-read educator, the busy parent, whatever roles you are playing…set them aside for a moment. Take off the armour that you don to march through your daily lives.
Breathe into what exists below the surface. Feel into the warmth and tenderness of your heart. Be vulnerable with me. Allow the ego/fear-based need to fit in and be accepted melt away. Know that you are more than enough just by being the real you. It is in this raw vulnerability that we give our authentic self permission to step into the spotlight and shine bright.
True confidence grows in the warm sunshine of your heart and the unconditional love of Spirit. Unwavering confidence is fueled by knowing and trusting that the Divine loves and supports you…no matter what. Let your heart take it’s place in the driver’s seat. Let your heart and soul determine who you are in this world. And watch the beautiful ripple effect, as you empower others, young and old, to do the same.
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