in Personal Reflections

Risk Being You

If you could erase everything you know about yourself, who would you become?

Imagine for a moment that you could let go of everything that makes up your identity: all your fears and self-doubts, all your past mistakes and experiences, all your family and friends, even the shape of your body and face, and all those weird things you don’t like about your name.

Forget about what you look like. Forget about how you normally interact with people. Forget about how people usually respond to you and how you respond and act around other people. Forget what you think. Forget what you feel. Forget all of it.

Now imagine for a moment that you can start from scratch. You can recreate yourself to become anyone you like, a person with whatever personality and whatever traits you desire. 

If you’ve always wanted to be comfortable around other people, pretend for a moment that you suddenly gain the ability to be extremely relaxed and easygoing. Your confidence goes through the roof and you have no fear of judgement. You make friends easily and you have fun talking to strangers. When someone smiles and says hello, you not only smile and say hello back but you go out of your way to initiate a conversation because you’re excited and intrigued about where it may lead and that alone feels worth more than being afraid.

If you’ve always wished you worried less and spent more time enjoying life and the company of those present, that you enjoyed doing things not because the timing was right but because they felt like the right thing to do, then pretend for a moment that you can suddenly embrace the joy of this moment with no doubt or hesitation, no questioning or analyzing, no reservation or delay.

If you’ve always wanted to speak your mind and be yourself no matter what others may think, pretend for a moment that in any given situation you will always say what’s on your mind. You willingly open doors and you leave room for others to judge you because you’re so confident in your own skin that it just doesn’t matter. You’d rather let others know you for you — no matter what they may think — rather than let them judge you for who you’re not.

If you’ve always wished that you didn’t play it safe all the time, then pretend for a moment that in this newly created life all the characters and props that come with it will be wiped away soon and everything will start anew; it doesn’t matter how risky the choice, how crazy the idea, or how absurd the potential outcome: they’re all worth a shot because this is your only opportunity anyway.

Now recognize that none of this needs to be pretend.

You can start from scratch. Others who know something about you may hold onto what they know and believe, but you can let it all go.

Initiating conversations and talking to people always leads to more interesting and fun experiences.

Enjoying the company of those present and living day-to-day with a focus on what makes you happy and what opportunities lie ahead is always safer than doubting, over-analyzing, and waiting for the right moment.

Speaking your mind, leaving room for others to judge you, and not fearing the outcome of being yourself is always better than pretending to be someone you’re not.

Taking chances on the things that feel right, exploring opportunities that could lead somewhere new, and believing in ideas that speak to you, is always worth any perceived risk; everything you know will turn to dust soon anyway.

Be the person you know you’re supposed to be and stop pretending there are justifiable reasons to do otherwise. There is nothing worth avoiding who you are because who you are is worth more than anything you could risk.

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18 Comments

  1. You pretty much wrote a commentary on the transition I went through after retiring the end of September ’09. And…another aspect of getting out of the cubicle – out of the 9 to 5 grind, because there one must conform and bend. But Ima free man now. Non ruunt, non festinatione, non incitatione.

    • What I found interesting about leaving the 9-to-5 is that freedom can easily be perceived relative to current our circumstances.

      One can be trapped and suffocated outside the 9-to-5 just as easily as one can be free and at peace inside one — it’s all in our head! :)

    • Thank you, Lori. :) When we take a step back and look at the simplicity of it all, it becomes obvious that the alternative to being ourselves makes no sense!

  2. What I am in the need of approaching this summer is to risk, again, being *myself last year when I was more desperate* .. I must get back to the networking and client growth that was critical to staying alive. This February 2012 I *arrived* .. must. not. get. complacent.

    Thanks for the post Raam.

    • You’re most welcome, Torbjorn. :)

      The journey never really ends, but without stepping outside our comfort zones and risking being more of who we are, it’s easy to find ourselves sitting on a plateau.

    • Thank you, Jean. :)

      It’s not easy, but there really isn’t an alternative… unless we’re willing to give up the opportunity of life.

  3. Raam, you won’t believe this. I sat down to read this and do you know what was playing on the radio? Sting/Police singing ‘be yourself no matter what they say’. I think the song is called Englishman in New York or something.

    I think there’s a double message for me there somewhere :-)

    A big thank you. Have a great day and hello from Ireland…

    • Colleen, I actually would believe that! The universe knows how to align things just the right way when we’re open to it. :) And following through with what it teaches us is essential.

      Hello from sunny Florida!