“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.” ― Jim Morrison
Are you in the midst of a personal revolution?
Here are five truths that can help you in fighting the battle:
1. Nobody can please everyone all the time.
Think of the most loveable and respected person you know. Did they get where they are by catering to others? Or did they stick by their beliefs unapologetically, even in the face of criticism and dissent? The irony of people-pleasing is that it doesn’t actually make you any friends. In fact, it causes you to sacrifice your very self for little to no payoff. Once you let go of other people’s expectations, you will be free to discover and meet your own – which is ultimately much more fulfilling.
2. I do not have to be the person I was yesterday.
So many of us have felt pressured to remain a person we don’t want to be. We fear change, and other people fear it for us. Be brave instead. Think of the character traits you would be proud to call your own, and set about the work of becoming that person. Let others deal with the transition as they wish. Just because you were one way yesterday does not mean you have to behave as such tomorrow. You – and only you – have the unique power to change yourself.
3. Self-love and self-care are not the same thing as selfishness.
In fact, we need to cultivate both of these things if we are to be our best selves. To be useful to others, we must first ensure that our own needs are being met. Without doing so, we can not contribute to society or improve the world in a powerful way. As Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
4. There is no such thing as “perfect”.
There are no perfect relationships. There are no perfect jobs. There are no perfect moments or perfect situations in life. There are certainly no perfect people! “Real” is all we can ask of ourselves, the world, and others. “Perfect” is a myth, and a distressing one. In fact, it is our very imperfections that make us human. It is life’s imperfect moments that make it worth living. As Donald Miller wrote, “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.” See what’s real. Take it in. Embrace it all.
5. Life is not a competition.
There are no real winners and losers. We are each on our own unique path, and will reach our proper destination in due time. To compare ourselves to other people only creates unnecessary stress and dissatisfaction. Let them live their lives as they see fit. Focus on your own. This life is not a race, and there are no medals for finishing more quickly than your neighbor. This thought is best summarized in the following poem:
“Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
who has not the slightest interest even
in his own personality: he’s free.”
― Jalaluddin Rumi
Allow yourself to live a life of freedom. Refuse to be held back from your authentic self by your loved ones, by society, or, most of all, by your own personal insecurities. Let it all go.