You shouldn’t be afraid…

…to be who you are.

But what if you don’t know who you are? How can you not know who you are? I mean, you know about 95% of the time what you feel, if you are angry or happy, what you need, whether it is sleep, food or a hug. And yet, the question of ‘who am I?’ is not that easy to answer.

Many start out with their name, gender, family status and then the most important part, status in society – student, housewife, manager, mechanical engineer, physician, cashier,… Your CV tells other people who you are and what your life was like so far: how long have been in school, did you study, did you do voluntary work, how many languages can you speak, what kind of work have you done?

But you and your life are so much more. There might be ‘gaps’ in your CV and that can be a problem when applying for a job. But actually, these gaps are ‘who you are’. Because you didn’t just follow the different stages in life monotonically as if they are pearls on a chain that cannot help but need to follow the string. Because you took a turn or two to get to where you are today. Because life might not be all about the money and the job. Because you chose to live and to make experiences and to grow.

I hate the German term ‘Lebenslauf’ (direct translation: run of life). As if your life has a starting point, a straight distance that you need to run to get to the finish – which basically would be death. Life is not a straight line, there are curves, there are steps, there are hills and valleys, and there is sun and rain. My problem is that in today’s world the direct way to success (whatever that means) has the highest priority. We all need to function. If you want to achieve something in life you need to be straight-forward and focused. Nothing against these traits, but if that means you give up yourself for the sake of these socially constructed expectations – you forget who you are.

You try to live a life that looks ‘perfect’ (okay, maybe close to perfect) from the outside. Do not show any signs of weaknesses. Yes, you can have a cold from time to time. But not knowing what you want to do with your life? Not being happy and satisfied with your life that others would love to lead? (Just think about all these people that fear for their lives every day!) Not conforming with the norms and expectations of a happy family, happy relationship, happy friendship, etc. happy everything even though you could have it all (smartphone, laptop, car, apartment)? This is all outside of your comfort zone. This should not be part of you. This should not be you. Who are you?

You are gorgeous and beautiful. (Maybe not like Heidi Klum – but hey, who wants to spend hours in the bathroom to put on make-up every day anyway?)

You are funny – mostly when you actually don’t try to be funny, and boring when you want to be funny.

You are kind, but maybe not to yourself.

You love food. Everyone loves food!

You have dreams and fears that you share with so many others. And then there are those dreams that keep you going when everyone else has already given up. And those fears that will keep some doors closed for you.

You are young and you will always be a child.

You are a good and a bad friend. You cannot please everyone all the time. Just as you will be disappointed, you will disappoint others.

Your life has your individual soundtrack, but sometimes all you can here is rushing.

You love your family, but cannot be around them all the time.

You don’t understand everything. You challenge yourself and the world. You are angry with people, with yourself.

And you love to travel and meet new people.

You love sunsets or sunrises, prefer ice-cream over chocolate, rather sleep on you back than on your side, and you never iron your clothes.

You are full of contradictions, but you don’t want to be someone else anymore.

Alright, I have to admit it. It is a lie when someone says you can achieve anything you want to. You simply cannot, because we are all born at a certain time in a certain place. And I don’t want to continue with ‘you can be who you want to’. Rather, you should try to be okay with who you are. There was a time when I was so fascinated and amazed by other people, their way of speaking, dressing, their everyday life, their visions, their friends, their way of meeting people that I thought: why can’t I be like that? And there are some parts of me that have changed (for example I believe that I am a bit more spontaneous than I used to be AND I have learned to sleep with other people in the same room – yay for earplugs!). But I am not them. And there are reasons for my choices and behavior. For my fears and dreams. For why I struggle with things that others never have to think about.

You shouldn’t be afraid to be who you are. You don’t need to hide or to be shy. Don’t be embarrassed. Maybe you will even surprise yourself.

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