This past weekend I attended an annual celebration and awards banquet for a wonderful national women’s organization I’ve been actively involved with for more than 25 years. In many ways this tribe raised me during the first 15 years of my professional career.
The morning of the event I slipped into my pretty, comfortable dress and shoes, rubbed lotion on my pale, pantyhose-free legs, attempted to groom my could-definitely-use-a-wax eyebrows, picked up the somewhat wrinkled linen wrap my husband had tried to iron for me and smiled compassionately at my reflection as I glanced in the mirror while heading out the door. Good is good enough!
When I was in my early twenties and first started attending professional luncheons hosted by this organization, I remember feeling butterflies–bordering on nausea–when I walked into the meeting room each month to a sea of savvy, perfectly dressed women. I was sure I wouldn’t be articulate enough, my clothes not sharp enough and my ideas not cooked enough. In short, I felt just plain not good enough. In those days, I thought I had to pull it together and be someone other than who I was. I assumed that my ordinary self was just not enough. I remember conversations with older professional women during these meetings where I could feel myself step in and out of my skin—the need to prove my worth tugging strongly at my chest. Sadly, I didn’t feel safe or secure enough to just be.
This memory came flooding back to me Saturday as I took the elevator up to the hotel ballroom where this same organization’s event was being held. Heading towards the registration desk, I felt a flood of ease, grace and gratitude for the gifts I’ve received from self-care over the last 15 years. This practice has taught me to fully honor and love exactly who I am today (someone who hates pantyhose) and revel in being 100% Renee, warts and all. Today, when I attend professional events, I will not ever abandon myself to please others (read more), I refuse to act or try and look like I “have it all together” (read more) and I am fully committed to showing up authentic, vulnerable and as real as I can be. It’s the only way I know to roll.
I believe our job, our journey in life, is to constantly ask and explore how we can become more fully ourselves? As I speak to women around the globe about how to enhance inner and outer balance, I often reflect on how we can embody our essence–the good, the bad and the ugly–and build enough compassion and self-acceptance so that we refuse to be anyone other than who we are right now. I challenge women I work with to ask, “How can I ensure I ‘have my own back’ at all times and stay with myself—regardless of what others think or what’s going on around me?”
Authenticity–keeping it real–is one of the human attributes I most value. As I travel and teach, I’m noticing people everywhere are feeling the same way: we crave opportunities to bare our souls, show our brilliance and our faults and be accepted just as we are. We’re tired of trying to be someone we’re not, It’s exhausting! We’re ready to take off the pantyhose and let our soft bellies relax, pooch out and just be.
At the end of the day, I care much more about who you are than where you work or what you’ve done. I want to know what’s in your heart and I want to share what’s in mine, too.
HOMEWORK: Imagine, what would it look like to be more authentic in your life? Pick one area and (start small, baby steps) let someone see who you really are. Let down the armor and reveal your true self–don’t hold back. And, let me know how it goes.
INVITATION: Seeking a nurturing, empowering, supportive environment where you can Come As You Are and be with other women who hold the highest and best for you? This is what my 2014 self-care retreats are all about–join us!
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.