By Raven Ishak
When I’m in a room full of strangers, I never really know how to interact. I listen more than talk, and I overanalyze every movement, word, and thought a hundred times in my head before I react to my surroundings. Just writing that sentence made me feel exhausted; however, this happens more often than I would like to admit.
Every day when I wake up, I aim to be myself: I dress the way I want to dress, I wear my hair the way I want to wear it, and I walk out the door in hopes that my inner self will align with my external world. But, as much as I want to admit that I do things for myself, I can’t help but wonder what others will think if I wear a certain piece of clothing or part my hair a certain way. I don’t know why, but I can’t help but create these internal struggles that I can only see and feel. I don’t want to believe that these thoughts are my truths, but they sometimes take precedence. While I don’t compare myself to others usually, I can’t help but feel that I have to act, talk, or look a certain way to be allowed to be a part of someone else’s world instead of just trusting myself that I am enough to be loved for who I am.
So, after feeling like this for far too long, I’ve decided to try to put a stop to this way of living. Life is what you make of it, and if I’m living through other’s perceptions, then I can’t call this life my own. So if any of the above sounds similar to what you’re going through, please scroll below to see how you can be yourself in a world that may possibly want to change you. Because, truthfully, the only person you should be seeking reassurance from is you and you alone. So let’s do this.
It can be hard to find your own voice when you’re constantly consuming others’ thoughts and opinions. While social media channels like Instagram and Facebook are there to connect you with other like-minded people, they can easily put a damper on your day when you see something that could trigger a negative thought pattern. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to take a break by unplugging every once in a while. Delete these apps, and put your attention into other things that will validate your voice and won’t require validation from “likes” and “comments” (i.e. journaling, setting goals, talking with close friends on the phone, listening to inspirational podcasts, etc). Swapping your daily swipes with voice-affirming activities that were mentioned above could help you build your intuition and allow you to get to know yourself on a higher level.
Seeking validation from others is a surefire way to prevent yourself from living your best life. If you happen to overthink everything, you probably carefully calculate every move and word you say to appease others so you don’t have to deal with the feeling of rejection. Even though rejection is a hard pill to swallow, nothing is more exhausting than cherry-picking everything you do. Remember: no matter what you do or say, you’re not going to be able to please every single person in the world. Playing it safe won’t allow you to chase after your dreams or make yourself be comfortable in your own skin. It’s best to let go of the notion that it’s your responsibility to make everyone else comfortable when the only thing you should be responsible for is your own happiness.
Nothing is more damaging to your self-worth than saying things you don’t mean. This goes hand-in-hand with trying to please others because you’re afraid to rub someone the wrong way. Being true to your values and ethos is the greatest gift you can give yourself. This allows you to be open and honest with yourself in ways you couldn’t imagine. When something comes up that either bothers you or goes against what you believe, allow yourself to live in the discomfort and politely speak your truth. Usually, people say things they don’t mean because they don’t know how to sit with things that make them uncomfortable, so they’d rather avoid it all together by just doing what the other person wants.
You won’t be able to be your true self if you don’t know who you are or what you want out of life. Take a few moments and sit with your thoughts. Write in a journal, take a few personality quizzes, ask your family about their history — heck, check your astrology chart. The more you understand your personality, your likes and dislikes, and where you come from, the more you’ll be able to gauge who you want to be.
Engaging in a conversation with someone can be overwhelming for some when you overanalyze every scenario. Why did I say that? Are they bored with what I’m saying? Think of something funny to say so they like me! just might be a few things that would run through your head. However, by having these conversations with yourself, you’re refusing to be present.
Ideally, you want to switch this dialogue to not critique everything you do but to easily flow with what’s going on outside of your mind. Essentially, by being present, you’re allowing yourself to focus on what’s actually happening in front of you instead of focusing on the assumptions that you’re coming up with.
At the end of the day, you should be kind and nurturing to yourself while you’re trying to figure out how to be more like yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or compare yourself to someone else when it seems so easy for them to be open and honest with their thoughts. You’re assuming that they’re comfortable in their skin, when in reality, they could be having the exact same thoughts that you are.
Remind yourself to focus on your own journey. Do everything in your power to find your voice and take the next steps to live the life you’ve always wanted. As hard as it is to remember, nothing is more powerful than being yourself in a world that wants you to be like everyone else, when being like everyone else is, frankly, boring.
Originally published at www.theladders.com