It’s 6:45 a.m., and I awaken to the rambunctious sound of my alarm clock. Unmotivated and slightly irritated, I drag one foot after another onto the floor and reluctantly get ready for work.
I shuffle through my laundry to find a wrinkled, yet seemingly presentable, work shirt. I hate the red shirt and khaki pants. Everything about that look screams prisoner. But, I put it on anyway and grudgingly walk out the door.
I inch through traffic while drinking my overpriced caramel frappuccino. With exactly two minutes to spare, I park my car, race to the door and clock in. For the next eight hours, my life will be placed on hold. Nothing about this day, or any other day spent here, will bring about genuine joy and a positive sense of self.
Nothing about my work here, and interactions with others, will bring me life.
I will only feel bothered, anxious and weighed down.
It’s five minutes before clock out, and my boss requests that I stay longer to help with additional projects. Not wanting to disappoint someone whom I greatly respect, I agree. So, the two of us talk about the center’s new look and how we should revamp the current interior design. I could care less, but of course I offer suggestions that I think she would want to hear.
It’s now approaching nine hours of work, and I would much rather be drinking tea in my dining room and writing a new poem. I feel incredibly suffocated in this space. This job is the opposite of everything I want in life, and as each day comes and goes, I feel more like someone other than who I really am.
Afraid of being branded as a quitter, I work here, day in and day out.
I relinquished everything authentic to me to fit in with my colleagues. I made nice with those whom I knew were dishonest and untrustworthy. For so long, I ignored my passion of being a writer and chose an easy way to make money.
None of it was real.
The whole experience took more than what it gave. I was exhausted.
And so one day, I decided that no matter what it looked like from the outside, I would shed all layers of untruth and live a life authentic to who I was, deep down inside.
Living authentically and unapologetically is rare, because we’re so afraid of outside perceptions. And so we ignore our natural feelings, thoughts and intuitions just to avoid seeming different. Or maybe we’re too much of a people pleaser, and so we find ourselves agreeing to everything. Or worse, we’ll taper what we really want to say to avoid hurt feelings and lost friendships. But in the end, we are left depressed and full of anxiety, not the other person.
We know what’s authentic to us. We know what brings us irrevocable happiness. Yet we choose to ignore it. It’s time to create a life that is true to who we are. It’s time to start living authentically.
Our lifestyle choices should be constantly reflecting our true thoughts, desires and convictions in life. So, where do we start? Continue reading to find out how I was able to have the courage to live my truth. I literally take it day by day, but I feel so empowered and in control of my life now.
1) Be courageous enough to say, “No.”
Too many times we agree, out of some perceived obligation, to do things we really don’t want to do. I’ve found it hard to give my best when I voluntarily place myself in unwanted situations.
I was asked by a neighbor if I could babysit her two-year-old toddler. By that time, I was incredibly exhausted from the day, and changing diapers was definitely not in my evening plans. I respectfully told her that I could not do it, and to my surprise, she understood
2) Live and speak honestly, no matter who’s around.
Who we are, fundamentally, is who we’ll always be. How can we be expected to alter that which keeps us aligned and balanced and still remain who we are? We must live our truth every day of our lives.
With all that’s happening in the world, it’s sometimes difficult to be heard, let alone understood. So when I was asked to give my opinion about the discrimination surrounding Muslims and Islam, I boldly gave my answer. I wasn’t concerned at all about what others thought of me and my opinion.
3) Speak plainly and directly to avoid confusion.
In conversation, we should say exactly what we mean. We should be clear about what we want and about what we do not want. Clarity is one of life’s greatest gifts. Clear and precise dialogue dismantles any misunderstandings, assumptions and misinterpretations.
Meaning and true understanding can get lost in a text message. So instead of trying to convey my side of the story (via text) to a dear sister-in-law, I decided to call instead.
4) When you begin to feel uncomfortable, immediately remove yourself from the situation.
“Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
A conversation that slowly transformed into a heated disagreement made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Instead of pushing an agenda to be right, I immediately stopped talking and graciously walked away. Walking away was easier than I thought.
5) Every day, allow yourself dedicated alone time.
Throughout the day, we can become over-stimulated, and that extra stimulation can lead directly to stress. Find some quiet and solitude and appreciate your own company. You are your best friend, and in that, you know what you need to feel alive.
Every night when my children are asleep, I enjoy a good book and something sweet to eat. I live for these moments of quiet and solitude. It gives me the energy I need to start again the next day.
Now, these tips are merely daily reminders of what we’re capable of doing. We are capable of saying “no.” We are capable of removing ourselves from unwanted situations. We all have the same courage in us to make seemingly tough decisions.
But the caveat to all of this is: We have to be comfortable in our skin and accepting of ourselves to live life honestly.
We have to know who we are first, to know what we will not accept and what we will not do.
Author: Erica Siddeeq
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Courtesy of Author // Flickr/Maria Georgieva