Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘Conform’

Out of the Picture: A Retrospective

Still Taking Myself Out of the Picture

Every time we get together, we do a group picture, as if to remind us that, although our building is gone, our hearts remain connected. All too often these days, I’m not in the picture, even those times when I’m there.

Maybe I was in the bathroom, or outside trying to pull it together because I was having a rough time. Maybe I didn’t go at all because funds and circumstances didn’t permit. Even if I was fine with not being there, seeing the group pictures where I’m missing hurts.

Yet there are plenty of times I’m there, sometimes right in the middle, my red curls standing out amidst the browns, blonds, and subtler shades. I paste a smile on my face and my eyes close to small slits when the person wielding the camera says “say cheese”. When I’m overly visible, I try not to critique; to notice how much heavier I am than the women who surround me, or that my clothes aren’t as carefully pressed and attractive. I try to ignore how thrown together I look, despite the time I took fixing my hair and putting on makeup.

Trying to Fit in When It’s No Longer Necessary

As often as not, I’ll hide in the back, my face partially covered by someone’s head, my body https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffsand/3871415191/in/photolist-pcGBET-kFToD-6qGVED-qNy62T-68V6FA-in6U7u-in73Zi-in67pq-2X39ED-in5RhJ-in62bm-6U71RM-qNCNQf-6VFXCi-p5tBS9-oZtmEp-7aBWmV-pmWp5N-in7Paa-qNys8v-in78S4-in6ZkK-in66L2-in5VK1-pcDpbn-qxEYaihidden so my natural unkemptness is less obvious. But I wonder, why don’t I take more care? Why don’t I pull out an iron or wear something more flattering? Sure, I’m dancing, and I sweat a lot. I tend to wear clothes that are lighter, cooler, and not always classy. I stopped wearing boots because they made my toes hurt, so my clunky dance sneakers at the end of long, slender legs look like Mickey Mouse feet. Is it any wonder I so often take myself out of the picture?

The pictures tell a different story than the hard fought confidence I try to exude. They deny the progress I’ve made, though the mere fact I’m in some of them is a giant stride. The 20 or so pounds I’ve managed to keep off aren’t obvious from the photographs, but when I stop being critical, I know.

What also doesn’t show is that when I’m missing these days, I’m also missed. That’s something I didn’t have until maybe the last couple of years. Until then, I’d have to be gone for weeks before my absence would be noticed, if it was noticed at all. Now, it’s often a matter of minutes, even while I’m telling myself I’ve managed to slip away without making a ripple.

Why Do We Try to Blend In?

I may still have some of the barriers up; excess weight, untidy appearance; but I’ve lowered others, allowing people to get closer and see the real me. When I’m missing from the picture or the gathering, people not only notice, but let me know I was missed. It’s crazy how good that feels to a woman who spent a large portion of her life trying to be wallpaper.

Which begs the question, why would anyone want to blend in with the walls and go unnoticed. To answer that, I’d have to go back to my childhood when I didn’t know how to embrace and love my differences. Back then, my mother nagged at me about my weight and my acne-ridden skin. The neighborhood kids found ammunition in my glasses and zits, and eventually, the steel bands forcing my teeth into a more aesthetically pleasing symmetry. Nothing was out-of-bounds for kids who were, in retrospect, trying to draw attention away from their own flaws.

Embrace Your Unique, Quirky Self

I grew up believing I needed to fit in, yet having no idea how to go about it. I didn’t know then my own personal style was all I needed, and that fitting in was, and still is highly overrated. Someone wiser than me said if we are simply ourselves, we’ll attract the people who accept and love us as we are.

But more teenage tears are shed from being excluded. More angst is formed from being marked as “different”. Many of us carry that into our adult lives where we continue trying to force ourselves into an uncomfortable, ill-fitting mold. We never quite manage to conform, but however much we do is itchy and uncomfortable, often leading to irritability and further self-abuse, because where are we going to direct that irritability but towards ourselves? We’re the ones failing to measure up, right?

Finding Myself When I Stopped Trying to Conform

In my 20’s and 30’s, I dressed the part, and tried my hardest to avoid conflict and https://www.flickr.com/photos/125303894@N06/14365669046/in/photolist-nTrNV5-2f5PCUZ-28knBCQ-bSRpwg-hSnPyx-otGuDp-azqvRQ-D2QXQh-YVh4U5-8ZJcE3-26bTzFo-eeaBEi-occovQ-9i7bQ5-23CJvTx-rhV1XQ-26LZPM6-nrsG7K-bmnvub-8rRn4C-MZDGbT-HuqYEh-27342hV-HrkwAE-ehfTPF-2734sEP-LgusiG-272GRGH-25DqddG-25Dqn1m-Y2VH7U-LXKfra-LguvaJ-25Dqnoq-25DJuL5-2f1ci9J-25DqbXL-28povan-Lm2wcx-HkMrNJ-2dYUsVs-oaeobo-ZR9qTn-rtFBMa-24ZPYXp-R78K1f-Dymseq-24W5BDs-23CJCE8-21DkYfLconfrontation, but all too often, it found me anyway. I’d come home from work,  immediately strip off the trappings of conformity, and sigh as I sank into the soft comfort of t-shirts, sweats and bare feet.

By my 50’s, I gave up trying to fit in and accept my isolation. I was still taking jobs which fit my skill set but not my mindset. It took a few more years for me to see I didn’t fit into Corporate America at all. Still, when I finally saw it, I threw away the baby with the bath water, so to speak, and lost my work ethic and ability to manage a schedule for awhile.

Now I’m slowly climbing back up; re-engaging old skills like setting deadlines and keeping commitments, not to anyone else, but to myself. I’ve never had a problem honoring those I make to others, so my clients haven’t suffered during this period of rebirth. Instead, I’ve had to learn I’m as important (if not more so) than my clients, and to treat myself accordingly. In other words, I am responsible for keeping myself in the picture.

Pouring from a Full Vessel

https://www.flickr.com/photos/blueyeda73/462237282/in/photolist-ERQi6-4QJhoE-dze2go-72vcw-Ewfmrv-z5pHh7-yNMLkm-z7eorD-5m8ZsL-eLzyW-4zDPn4-oaHUt5-sixfS-GR63j-BQbZtq-GmyPM-AUZ1vW-AUYQqq-dEZ72-wr2n7s-djYJn3It still surprises me to see how much my clients benefit when I’m taking care of myself first. Their work gets done more quickly and with even greater attention to detail. I see things I might have missed if I was still glossing over my own needs and requirements. It really is true you can’t pour from an empty vessel. If you don’t take care of yourself, everyone suffers, even if it’s not readily apparent.

Part of doing a better job for clients is improving and expanding my own skill set. As I commit to getting up earlier, I start my work day sooner, allowing for an hour or so of self-development before I start on tasks for clients (including myself). That may mean doing some reading to tap into areas of my expertise I’ve yet to mine, or working through a course which will help me hone in on who I really want to serve. Sometimes, it’s an hour with my coach, or following up on tasks I’ve been set.

Whatever I use that extra hour for, it benefits all my clients as well, both present and future. Keeping myself in the picture instead of sneaking away or hiding in the back means I’ll be ready when opportunities arise or the scenery changes. In the past, I would have tried harder to fit in. Now, I know I was meant to stand out.

Still Trying to Fit in? I Can Help!

Where are you fitting in when you should be standing out? What masks do you shed when you’re back in the safety of your home? If you’d like help breaking free of the masks and letting your real self shine, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

A Gratitude a Day…

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders about how far I’ve come.
  2. I am grateful for friends who don’t allow me to go missing for long.
  3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, especially when it comes to honoring commitments to myself.
  4. I am grateful for leaps of faith when I may not have landed perfectly or unscathed, but I landed exactly where I was supposed to; where I stopped trying to fit a mold that wasn’t me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, opportunities, manifestations, inspiration, joy, dancing, health, peace, harmony, happiness, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Abut the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Viewing Change as Opportunity

Fighting Change is a Losing Battle

Change is inevitable. The only way to avoid it is to sit in one place your whole life with your hands folded in your lap, enjoying the excitement of a catatonic state. Even then, changes will happen in spite of you. Days pass, seasons change, dust gathers, people move through or around you. Viewing change as a threat hobbles and restrains you as no shackles or chains could ever do.

Many people see change as threatening, even risky. They close their minds to the possibilities of stepping out in the world and trying something new. They work their steady, boring job day after day, eat the same foods in front of the same TV shows, lamenting every cancellation or summer hiatus.

Here’s to Those Who Take Leaps of Faith

Then there are the adventurers; the ones who climb the mountains, challenge the jungles, toss away what no longer excites them to try something completely new and unproven. When they succeed, they do so on a global scale. When they fail, they do so with no less fanfare, then pick themselves up and face the next challenge.

Most of us fall somewhere between the two, maybe plodding through that boring job while we set up something better in the background. One day, we get fed up with the rat race and make a grand if poorly thought out exit. What keeps us going is the years we spent making what  the adventurers might consider piddly changes and minor challenges. For us, though, they were a giant leap outside our comfort zone and no less risky in our world view than the scaling of Everest or the Himalayas, or jumping from a helicopter onto a mountain covered in freshly fallen snow.

We All Face Fear. It’s What You Do With it That Matters.

To say any of us who takes a chance on ourselves never experiences fear or panic is ludicrous. It’s not that we don’t experience it. We simply move through it until we get to more stable ground before launching ourselves into space again.

I used to think I wanted a completely peaceful, stress-free life; a life where all my needs were met and I felt safe and secure all the time. But a life like that gives you no reason to try; no reason to get out of bed in the morning. Those challenges, set-backs and downright scary times are what keeps our blood flowing, our adrenaline rushing, and our hearts crying out for yet another E-ticket ride.

Change is in our blood, whether we realize it or not. We do ourselves a huge disservice by settling for life in a rut of sameness. We slowly die inside when we don’t allow our inner adventurer to take a few chances, experience new things, discover new places.

Conforming Sucks Your Soul Dry

CGI did a short film called “Alike” featuring a young boy and his dad. Daniel Martinez Lara and Rafa Cano Mendez did an extraordinary job of demonstrating how we need the curiosity and nonconforming characteristics we took for granted as children. Losing them turns us into a grey shadow of ourselves who simply plods through our days with no inspiration or motivation.

Change is the color in our palette, the rainbow in our sky. It’s walking into a cloud of bright orange butterflies and delighting in millions of tickles as they brush across our skin. Without change, we’re incomplete. We ignore the most amazing, creative, ecstatic part of ourselves.

I encourage you to ask yourself this: Is being accepted worth losing your humanity? Will people like you less if you’re true to yourself?

If you ask me, losing yourself to be accepted means you’re making an effort to be accepted by the wrong people. The right people will flock to you like those butterflies I mentioned as soon as you stop trying to be someone you’re not, and worse, someone you don’t even particularly like. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:

I Am Grateful for My Adventurous Spirit and So Much More

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the courage to take the leap of faith that brought me to where I am today.
  2. I am grateful for the changes I’m making to allow people to help me as I’ve been blessed to be able to help others.
  3. I am grateful for the opportunities that arise when I get out of my own way.
  4. I am grateful for finding my tribe; people who accept me for who I am, not for who I try to be.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, opportunities, courage, fear, challenges, lessons, risks, rewards, blessings, gifts, joy, adventurers, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Read Miss Pelican’s Perch’s version of today’s writing prompt.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook here Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author.

Don’t Seek to Tame Your Wild, Wonderful Beast Within

Wild Women Rock!

In my far-distant, misbegotten youth, I was tame, or so it seemed to me (my mother would vehemently disagree). I tried to follow the rules, tried to get along. But I was always the proverbial square peg in a round hole. My wild, unruly curls are truly a symbol of the girl/woman who lurks within. This is not someone to be tamed into conforming, though heaven knows I’ve tried with blow dryer, flat-iron and any manner of hair products. What’s true on the outside, is even more true on the inside.

Ultimately, I learned I was not meant to be tamed. I was not meant to be a silent watcher as life rumbled by in all its messy glory. Yet, I was also not meant to be sucked in by irrational drama; drama for the sake of drama. Or what my friend Ralph would call gratuitous drama. My spot on what appears to some to be the sidelines has its own reasons and purpose.

Words attributed to the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe, but actually coined by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich speak directly to my thoughts on this matter:

Well behaved women seldom make history.

Making the Wrong Things Right

Hard as I’ve tried, I’ve always managed to say the wrong thing or react the wrong way to someone somewhere. I don’t usually mean to wound with my words (though admittedly there have been a few times I did), but all too often, my intent is misunderstood, perhaps intentionally at times.

It took me many decades of my life to learn two very important lessons:

  1. It is not my job to please everyone.
  2. How people react to my words or actions is not my responsibility.

Unfortunately, I had to step away from the world to a large extent in order to truly begin to accept the truth of these two statements.

In a corporate environment, there’s a constant battle  to ensure your words are not misinterpreted, and for me, that was a veritable minefield. I found that no matter what I said or how I said it, someone would find a way to take offense, especially if it furthered their own aspirations. No matter how small a company is, there will always be someone who seeks to get ahead by stepping on others. Needless to say, I do not thrive in that environment. Instead, I get burned a couple of times, then, like a turtle, I retreat into my shell, doing what I need to in order to survive, and savoring the connections I might make with one or two people.

Embracing My Rawness

When I first started this blog, I sought to tame the words which appeared on the screen. I didn’t want to write anything which might make someone uncomfortable. But a few years ago, my sister and some of her friends started writing horrible comments which somehow got past the controls I’d set up which required all comments to be moderated. I learned that even in my own space, my own blog, people would find a way to be offended.

I finally realized that by creating my own space, either here or on social media meant I could tell those people “If you don’t like what you see, don’t look!” Granted, I’m limited a bit by rules put in place by the various social media platforms, though I’ve yet to overstep in that arena. In certain things, I’m simply tamer than, say, the average Millennial.

I Don’t Write for Sissies…or for Haters

The longer I write for public consumption, the less willing I become to sugar coat what I say, or dumb down my word choices. I may still appear tame to younger readers, or to the more adventurous among you, but just as I wear my curls proudly, I wear my authenticity the same way.

Back in the BBS days before the Internet took over, we used to say “attack the post, not the poster”. I think this holds true even more today as the pages of Social Media are deluged with hate-filled diatribes. I’m a strong supporter of freedom of speech, but that does NOT mean freedom to be abusive, hateful, or evil. A few people have met Mr. Block and Delete on Facebook because they saw fit to attack me and my beliefs instead of just expressing their disagreement with something I posted or shared.

You could call this discrimination on my part, and maybe it is. I’m all for a spirited discussion provided it doesn’t get personal. One of my favorite people in the world has very strong opinions on some things I don’t agree with. We’re still good friends because we respect each other and in fact, value our differences. We also NEVER make disparaging remarks about each other. Our points of disagreement may not always be entirely polite, but we do our best to stick to the topic without impugning each other’s character. It’s more about respect than seeking agreement. If you ask me, having friends who always agree on everything would be dreadfully boring. I like people who, through their words and actions, teach me something new.

Creating a Haven for the Wild and Untamed

The moral of this story is, if you’re looking for tame, fluffy, sugar-coated blather, you’ve come to the wrong place. I embrace my inner rawness and allow it free rein to appear on the pages which bear my name. I may not always be pretty, but I’ll always be authentic. Are you brave enough to expose yourself to the almost certain criticism of those who disagree? It’s often a rough path, but for me, it’s proving infinitely rewarding.

Sharing the Gratitude Which Inspires and Guides Me

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve begun to reveal my authentic self.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve begun to learn to be compassionate.
  3. I’m grateful for the pain which tells me a lesson is really important.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who are strong enough to disagree with me without feeling threatened or threatening.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, aggravation, pain, lessons, challenges, instability, health, peace, hope, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Community Pool Link

This is my second day of posts inspired by writing prompts in WordPress’s Community Pool. Today is brought to you by #tame. Here’s A Ray of Sunshine’s take on today’s theme.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Tame

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