Here is a guest blog post I wrote for Tiny Buddha about my own journey to live with more authenticity. I hope you enjoy it!
“Being who you are is another way of accepting yourself.” ~Unknown
Years ago, I struggled to be authentic. I was a consultant who worked with very senior people in big organizations. As a Black female fresh out of graduate school, I was frequently the youngest in the room, the only woman in the room, and the only minority in the room.
Because on the surface, I was so different from those around me, I was very concerned about how I might be perceived. So, I put a lot of effort into portraying myself in ways I thought would increase the odds that others would accept me.
To make sure others wouldn’t underestimate me, I led with my intelligence—saying things to let them know how smart and knowledgeable I was, and playing down my fun-loving side.
To make sure I wasn’t seen as militant or overly sensitive, I stayed quiet in response to comments that ranged from a little “over the line” to blatantly offensive.
To make sure others felt at ease, whenever I was asked to talk about myself, I stuck with the most innocuous and middle-of-the-road stories that I knew were most similar to the other person’s life experiences.
And here is a small, but classic example—even though I had been yearning to own a snazzy smartphone case for years, I stayed with a neutral black one so I would be seen as suitably conservative instead of too girly or flamboyant. (Yes, I had it bad!)
The irony of all of this was that, although this approach caused me to be seen as someone who was bright, competent, and capable, it didn’t exactly forge deep connections with other people.
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