If you listened to my recent interview on The Rambling Runner Podcast, you heard the story of how a fortune cookie changed my life. Silly? Maybe. But so am I, and I love that about myself and the silly people in my life. The silly people are my favorites. ;)
But then again, being open to messages and looking for meaning in seemingly insignificant things? Maybe it’s not so silly after all.
Anyway, back to the fortune cookie. Here’s what it said:
“Want to be a power for love? Be yourself.”
In my 47 years on this planet, never have simple words hit me with more truth and familiarity than those. And they came at the perfect moment, at a time in my life when I was beginning to understand the power in simply being ME.
Much of what I write centers around the idea of loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are, and there is good reason for this.
Our authenticity is where our power lies.
You’ve probably seen a quote like this one-
“Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”
And while we can understand this on an intellectual level, if we don’t know what a first rate version of ourselves looks like, we will continue to find security in emulating those who seem to “know better.”
What’s more, doing things like everyone else feels easier, even if we have to ignore that quiet voice inside.
See, we’re wired to want to fit in, to be part of the group. It’s a survival instinct. If a wild animal comes to attack, we’re safer in a group than alone.
There’s nothing wrong with this instinct. Being with people who lift us up is incredibly empowering.
But where we get off track is when we start changing ourselves, denying parts of ourselves, feeling like we need to hide certain things in order to be accepted.
That's one of the biggest tragedies of our lives, because in doing this, we lose the unique gifts that only WE have. We lose US.
We all have a beautiful part to play in this life, and if we reject our perfect imperfection in favor of pretending to be something else, our beautiful part will never be played.
I was blessed with a strong, brilliant mother who I absolutely adore and who loved me deeply. She sacrificed any semblance of a social life to work two jobs to give me every opportunity she possibly could. But the one thing she struggled to give me was compliments.
I know now that it wasn’t that she didn’t see good in me, she just wasn’t comfortable saying the words.
But this was challenging for me growing up, because it felt like no matter what I did, I couldn’t gain her approval. I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or…. good enough.
It took decades for me to understand that this situation was yet another blessing in my life.
Yes, it hurt, but ultimately it taught me to look INSIDE for validation, instead of outside myself. And that has made more of an impact on who I am than ten million compliments ever could.
When we look inside ourselves for validation, we live with true authenticity.
We live in a way that comes from our true self, not from our attempts to be a second rate version of someone else.
That’s when we know we’re on the path toward fulfilling our passion and our purpose. When we make the choices that feel right to us, even if those choices differ from what others around us choose.
That’s when our gifts start to become clear, to us and to everyone in our lives. THAT is when we begin to truly shine.
So go get yourself a fortune cookie ASAP. And if it happens to say “You are a purple thumbtack high in a rock tree,” know that what it’s really trying to say is “Want to be a gift to the world? Be yourself.”
Your beautiful, powerful Self.