"Everything you do right now ripples outwards and affects everyone. Your posture can shine your heart or transmit anxiety. Your breath can radiate love or muddy the room in depression. You glance can awaken joy. Your words can inspire freedom. You every act can open hearts and minds." -David Daida
Who are you, truly?
That can either be a simple question, or one you can't seem to find the words to answer. Someone asked me this recently. There are a million and one things that I am. I thought of ways to answer this question, the context in which it was asked, and the words I would use to define me, instead of describe me.
I answered in light jest saying, "I am someone who doesn't like to wear bras. Whose mind, and boobs are free."
The fact that my triggered response involved the very recent emancipation of my breasts made me giggle. However it made me think deeper. Why did I feel that way? Up until recently, I worked in an office job from 9-5 to support myself. I was expected to dress appropriately. This was by no means your average "office culture." It was a laid-back, surf-culture office where I worked as a graphic designer. We had a ping-pong table, that I seldom utilized and no one would give me a sideways glance if I wore flip-flops to work.
However, there were many days that I wanted so badly NOT to wear a bra with my work outfit. I tried a few times, but ultimately felt as though my nipples and breasts would distractions to my male coworkers or I was being viewed as "unprofessional."
This was the reality I had created for myself. In addition to wearing a bra, make-up wasn't required but I definitely felt like I should have a full face of it. Not because my job made me feel that way, but when you go out in public, society makes you feel as if a woman isn't "together" if her make-up isn't done.
Present Day, Bra-Free
Flash forward to today. I've been working from home for almost three months now. I can't remember the last time I wore a bra, or make up and I feel I am a little bit closer to unleashing my true self. I used to feel like someone else was living my life. Talking for me, acting as me but I didn't know who she was. I knew that I didn't like her, though. The yucky things that came out of her mouth!!! UGH! Social pressure is a crazy thing. It's that much more intense when you feel like in order for your boss to like you, and for you to keep your job, that you have to act a certain way (maybe talk "shit" on people you actually loved and admired.)
Once I made the mental decision to leave my job, everything changed. I started standing up for myself. I started NOT talking shit with my boss. I started voicing things I loved and not caring if my boss called me a "hippie" or "unrealistic." Because the truth of the matter was that the influence my boss had over me was infecting my soul. Her negative words, actions and even the breath she breathed literally muddied the entire office in depression hourly.
About a week before I put in my notice at work, one of my coworkers said to me, "I didn't know you were positive and happy. I though you were like her (referring to my clearly unhappy and unsatisfied boss.)
My. HEART. BROKE! A million pieces of my identity shatter in that very moment. She didn't think I was this radiant sunshine that I though everyone KNEW I was. My instagram was soaked in positivity and hopefulness, but my actions at work didn't reflect that. Regret flooded my heart! I'd spent all this time trying to keep my boss happy by comforting her, saying "yes, this sucks! Fuck them!" When really, I didn't think or feel that way at all. But I wanted to keep my job, I liked paying my rent and truck payment on time. It didn't occur to me that there was another route I could have taken. One that didn't involve me acting like this horrible person.
On the drive home from work that day, I couldn't stop thinking about what my coworker had said to me. Disgust filled every cell of my body. I was not that sad depressed person who talked shit on others. The fact that even ONE single person in this world thought that of me made me so ashamed of my actions.
Looking back as I write this, I think that's where the road to being true to myself and taking control of my life began.
I unconsciously started to aligned my actions, words and the way I live my life with who I feel I truly am right now.
Fun benefit of living true to yourself: your life gets really fucking amazing. You attract like-minded individuals who you feel you instantly connect with on a deeper level. Conversations become interesting again, work becomes meaningful, life starts to be worth living.
What You Put Out, You Attract More Of
An interesting example of this that I had happen to me recently: I had just finished a very rough and turbulent paddle boarding session with my friend in La Jolla when I realized that I really wanted to cook hotdogs over the fire for dinner. I stopped at Trader Joes on the way home to grab the necessary ingredients. Knowing that heading into Trader Joes in my wet wetsuit might be frowned upon, I changed into the only thing I had in my truck: my Poler napsack. Don't know what that is? It's only my most favorite thing to wear EVER! <Picture below>
My roommate said to me, "you're really going to go to the grocery store looking like that?" Him referring to my matted wave-washed hair in a messy wet bun atop my head, vans shoes, and just my napsack over my body.
"Yes!" I replied. “I think I look cool. This napsack is fucking awesome!" Off to Trader Joes I went. I received MANY odd glances in Traders. Pretty sure most people thought I was homeless. I didn't care. I was there to get my hot dogs, some wine and enjoy a relaxing night by the fire in my backyard.
As I was walking out of Trader Joes, a guy behind me said, "That is the coolest fucking jacket I have ever seen. What is it?" On the walk to my truck I told him it was a Poler napsack, and that he should invest in one because they're literally life changing. I also told him of my paddle board adventure to explain my no-make up, sans normal outfit appearance.
We only talked for 20 seconds, and then he said "I know I'll regret it if I don't do this, so would you like to have coffee with me sometime?"
Did I just get asked out BECAUSE I looked like a complete slob-kabob?! I said yes, because I really admired his direct approach. I know how much courage it takes to hit on a total stranger!
As I drove out of the parking lot, I saw him get into his sick Tacoma with surfboards in the back. I smiled because I felt like I just made a friend who is on my level.
Update: our date was AWESOME! He suggested the Little Lion Cafe (um, yes. Cute restaurant on Sunset Cliffs right by my house.) We had TONS to talk about, TONS in common. We vibed off the same things. I changed his life by showing him the revolution that is the Carver board, he opened my eyes to believing that I could actually live out of my truck. Super fun date, (and even a very fun second date too) all because I was true to myself.
Would I have made this great friend in a Trader Joes parking lot if had I listened to the pressures from my roommate, or society for that matter and showered, did my make up and put on a whole outfit before I went to go grab some hot dogs? I don't know. But something like this has never happened to me before.
Give People A Fighting Chance
Here’s the take-away: If you show the world who you are, you will be giving people a shot at getting to know the real you. If you act like someone you are not, you will rob the people around you the opportunity to get to know who you really are, and you are fucking awesome! (Don't listen to those people, or in my case a boss, who make you feel embrrassed of who you are.)
I challenge you to do one thing a day that is more aligned with your true self. It doesn’t have to be as terrifying as not wear make-up in public. It can be some small decision that only affects yourself. I don’t know who you are or what values you hold dear, heck- I’m still trying to figure out who I truly am! But I know this, I never want to wear another bra as long as I live.
What do you want more of in your life? Start with that, and add in or take out as needed. This is your one and only life, and you are in control.