I was raised to care what people thought of me. I knew instinctively that my actions and behaviors were not solely my own. They represented my entire family.
I understood that I was supposed to be good, follow the rules, be an asset to my family and community. Instead, as a teenager, I was naughty, broke rules, and became a liability.
In my 20s, sensitive now to disapproval, I became a people pleaser. Desperate for acceptance, and to prove I wasn’t a royal screw up, I adapted my personality and goals to meet others’ expectations. Convinced that my true self was fundamentally flawed, I buried her, deep.
It is only now, in midlife, that I am beginning the process of excavating her.
I want back some of what I buried. I want the passion, the creativity, the wildness. I want the ultimate feeling of freedom that comes with being one’s self regardless of whether or not others approve. I want these things with the benefit of life experience and without the teenage drama.
I understand now what I didn’t for years: When you are authentic, you attract like-minded people and the right set of circumstances. This is more important than trying to win the approval of people who will never understand or appreciate the real you.