8 Rules to Live By For An Authentic Life

Live an authentic lifeHave you ever felt like you aren’t enough?  Have you ever felt like you don’t let the real you shine through with others?  Have you ever felt like you don’t even know the type of person you are?

I would raise my hand to all of the above questions.  Truthfully, about a month ago, I thought I was having a mid-life crisis.  (Not even kidding.) I was feeling exactly how I thought someone would feel when going through a mid-life crisis.  Perhaps it’s a bit dramatic, especially since I’m only 35 years old, but my feelings were/are very real.  Come to find out, I’m just on this amazing journey called life.  I’m trying to figure out the type of person that I am.  I’m trying not to compare myself to others.  I’m trying to own my own story, even though parts can be a little embarrassing.

I’m trying to be real. Raw. Genuine. Authentic.

As you get older, life just happens, doesn’t it? One day you’re carefree and the next you have a family, bills, and responsibility.  It’s such a balancing act and one that I feel like I’ve been sinking in, if I’m being honest.  Can you relate?

This past weekend I had to go out of town.  I had a flight that lasted a few hours, so I had some time on my hands.  I was excited to be able to have the time to read a book.  Yep, that’s right: Read a book.  In the quiet.  Without my family in the background needing me.  Without my phone dinging.  Without the doorbell ringing.  I know you know what I’m talking about.

Wouldn’t you know – I read the whole damn book in one sitting.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I cannot remember the last time that I did that.  And I love to read.  It just seems like there is never enough time though.

The book was great!  Like speaking straight to me, great.  Life is funny, isn’t it? It’s in the times that we need it the most that we get a sign.  And in my case, that came in the form of the book, Girl Code. (If you haven’t read it, read it. You can download it for free if you have a Kindle.)

To be honest, Girl Code reminded me a lot of myself and the eBook that I wrote about my eating disorder.  Because really, isn’t all of that, whether it’s weight, business, confidence, being true to yourself, isn’t all of that part of the same thing?  In fact, I put inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter and the author of Girl Code did the same thing.  Some of our quotes are even the same.  (I’m not tooting my own horn by sharing that, but seeing it in someone else’s work was what I needed to see. It’s more powerful than seeing it in my own work.) Why is it that it takes reading someone else’s work to give you the “ah-ha” moment that you so desperately need?

Since last August, I’ve felt the need to be myself just a little more.  To be more real and raw.  To be authentic.  That’s been my goal since and it’s been tough.  It’s not as simple as reading a book or putting that goal out there into the universe.  It’s a journey, full of laughter and tears.  I’ve known about Girl Code for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until this particular plane ride that I felt it was time to dive in and read it.

You see, life has a way of working out and putting what you need in your hands at the exact time that you need it to happen.

This past January I went on a retreat with the other top leaders in Younique.  Guess what the main theme of this retreat was?  Yep, being authentic.  Knowing and sharing your story.  Not comparing yourself to anyone.  The retreat was the best thing for me and also a time away with the most cloudy contacts I’ve ever had.  (Yes, I’m a crier and that isn’t good if you want contacts that you can actually see out of.)

There was a story shared at this retreat that I want to share with you.  It spoke to me like nothing else has and it’s brilliant.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be Billie Widdleton and Billie Widdleton didn’t even like me. I walked like he walked, I talked like he talked, and I signed up for the same high school he signed up for…which was when Billie changed. He began to hang around Herby Vandman. He walked like Herby Vandman and he talked like Herby Vandman. He mixed me all up! I began to walk like Billie Widdleton, walking and talking like Herby Vandman. And then it dawned on me that Herby Vandman walked and talked like Joey Haverlin. And Joey walked and talked like Corky Sabinson. So here I am walking and talking like Billie Widdleton’s imitation of Herby Vandman’s version of Joey Haverlin, trying to walk and talk like Corky Sabinson. And who do you think Corky Sabinson is always walking and talking like, of all people: dopey Kenny Wellington, that little pest who walks and talks like ME!”

Powerful, right?!

Fast-forward to last weekend’s flight and reading Girl Code. Chapter 2 starts out with this quote, “Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?” – Danielle LaPorte. This quote hit home for me big-time.  I read it over a couple of times before moving on to the actual chapter.

Social media and the Internet in general are amazing tools.  We get to catch up with our old friends, meet new friends, and stay in touch with everything going on in everyone’s lives. The problem is that the majority of people don’t publicly share their struggles, so we are constantly seeing a highlight’s reel of everything good.  Whether you set out to compare yourself or not, it inevitably happens to us all.  And that’s when we start feeling like we aren’t good enough and that we should act/talk/walk/be someone different than we are.  And this is a problem.

I remember writing my eating disorder eBook in 2006 and being SO proud of myself for sharing my story and offering help to other women.  Sure, it was scary to put myself out there, but I knew that I had a story to share because I knew that it was going to help someone.  And if even one person felt like they could relate to me, know they weren’t alone, and if I could give them hope, that was all worth it to me.

Emails came pouring in thanking me for being so transparent.  Women from all over the world that I didn’t know, but that felt a bond with me.  Ladies telling me that I had inspired them.  Just little ole me.  It was all worth it.

When it came time to decide on the theme for my blog in 2013, it was a no-brainer.  I was excited to talk all things girly, share my favorite products, throw in some wine stories, and call it a day.  But then I started to care about all of the people on the Internet and how I could be judged by being vulnerable.  (This is the different in 2006 vs 2013, by the way. Social media wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now.) To protect myself, I put up a wall and tried to appeal to everyone.  I didn’t want to talk about alcohol because what if someone didn’t drink?  I didn’t want to use a bad word because what if that offended someone?

But you know what happens when you try to appeal to everyone?  You kind of just blend in and don’t stand out to anyone.  You become vanilla.  Something that everyone likes, but no one is crazy about.  And quite frankly, I’m tired of trying to appeal to everyone.  It’s just not possible that everyone is going to like me.

Putting yourself out there on the Internet is scary because there are those people that are just mean.  It’s just part of it, I guess.  Writing used to be something that I enjoyed.  It was so fun for me.  Then I started caring too much about what people thought.  For every ten emails that I got that said they appreciated what I said, there was one that came in that was rude.  Instead of not caring about that one and being thrilled about the ten, I cared and let that one get the best of me.

And that’s the reason why I haven’t blogged much lately.  The naysayers were getting the best of me, so that took out the fun of it for me.  I had another light bulb moment at the January retreat though.  I was talking to someone from Corporate and he was praising me.  He was saying the nicest things about what I’ve done in the past with my business and just how creative and entrepreneurial I am.  Instead of saying thank you, I brought up some negative things that I’ve heard people say about myself.  He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Why are you letting these other people (the ones that don’t even matter) get in your head and in the way of your success?”

Ding. Ding. Ding. This was a huge defining moment for me.  He made it so simple, yet so powerful.

Here’s the thing: I know my truth.  I know what I bring to the table and I know that I have a story to share.  I know that I will feel amazing being authentic and not being afraid to stand out.  It’s so exhausting trying to fit it and appeal to the masses.  And it’s, for lack of better words, dumb.  Completely dumb.

This past weekend I went to another leadership retreat and got to meet some other ladies that I might not have had the chance to meet if I didn’t go to this event.  There were around 117 women there and I feel so lucky that I met some of the ones that I did.  We just hit it off and completely related to one another.  What an amazing feeling that is!

You know you can just feel when you connect to someone? I felt that and opened up.  I didn’t have a wall up and I was inspired by so many and vice versa.  See? Even more validation that people need to hear the story that makes us who we are.  We don’t need to hide behind someone else and share that story; we need to be open and share our own.

Think about the people that you find inspiring.  You find them inspiring because they may have gone through some bad stuff in their lives, but have grown past all of that and come out stronger.  Do you think it’s hard for them to admit they used to use drugs? Be an alcoholic? Live on welfare?  Declare bankruptcy? Be a terrible wife? Had a car repossessed?  Of course it’s hard.  There is so much shame and guilt associated with that and opening up makes that person vulnerable.

But guess what?  Opening up and sharing your struggles and your past helps you.  There are tons of people that can relate to that story from their own past, or perhaps they are going through the same thing right now.  It gives that person hope.  It lets them know that it is okay to mess up and fall down, but that there is hope they can rise above it and be better.  It’s also incredibly inspiring to see someone go from a shell of a person to a now strong person that has overcome adversities.

And to do that, one must be authentic.

In this short journey, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me to get to the point where I am currently at and it feels amazing.  Honestly, I feel like I’ve grown as a person by leaps and bounds in the past 6 months and I’m excited about the person I’m becoming.

8 Rules to Life By For An Authentic Life

Younique friends at the retreat.1. Find your tribe and confide.

This is probably the most important “rule” ever in life.  Find your circle of people that you can share your true self with.  The friends that know your entire story, down to every little detail, and still love and support you.  The ones that you can share ideas and struggles with and get positive feedback in return.  The ones that won’t ever judge you for mistakes.  The ones that are in your corner and constantly have your back, whether you need to share good news, vent about something bad, or just bounce ideas off of.  The ones that celebrate your successes with you. These are your people; this is your tribe.  Love them and fuel these relationships because these are the ones that matter and will change your life.

2. Take time for you.

This is probably the hardest one.  All my mom readers, where you at?  Laundry, errands, packing lunches, working, cleaning the hamster cage, it never seems to stop.  Believe me, I get it.  You HAVE got to set aside time for you so that you can fill your own cup.  If your cup isn’t full, how can you be there for someone else?  (The answer is: You can’t.)  Take time for a bath, to read a book, to get a massage, to go to happy hour with a friend, to go and see a movie in complete silence.  Whatever your “thing” is, take time and do it.

Hanging out at the Younique black status retreat with my friends.3. Avoid the short cuts.

Why is it that short cuts are so tempting?! Want to lose weight? Forget about diet and exercise; just pop a pill.  Want to read a book? Don’t read the whole book; read the Cliff’s notes. Want to spend time with your husband, but have work to do? Just be in the same room as him as you are constantly looking down at your phone the whole time. Have a team page on Facebook? Who has time to create a brand new motivating post? Just copy and paste someone else’s post.  (Insert face palm here.)

When you do any of the above, you aren’t actually getting ahead.  Short cuts do not work in life.  Well, they might work for a short amount of time, but then they just don’t.  It’s too hard to keep up the diet pill because there is a point when you will be hungry and will want some food.  You won’t grow in your relationship with your husband if you aren’t present in the time you have together. When you take team posts from one person and then another, it’s suddenly really confusing as to who you are.  Trust me, I know this one to be true.  (It’s okay go get ideas from other leaders, but make sure to change the words around to fit you and your personality.)

The moral of the story: Be original. Just because something appears to be easier doesn’t mean it’s smart or good for you to do.

4. Goodbye Facebook notifications.

Don’t be scared to turn off the notifications on your phone.  I promise that there is nothing that is “do or die” that will happen if you aren’t always connected.  The constant dinging that happens on my phone drives me crazy.  It was such a good and freeing feeling when I turned off my Facebook notifications.  Don’t be absent to the people in your real life by constantly being on your phone.  (It’s also just really bad manners.)

I love my Younique friends!5. Be present.

This really goes with the above. I felt like my phone was controlling me with the dings.  My son would talk to me and I thought I was a champ multi-tasker and could do both.  (I could not.)  Be present with your family and your friends.  You want them to remember your face, not your head looking down. Again, there is nothing so life shattering that will happen by not seeing every notification immediately when it pops up.

6. Boundaries.

Set office hours. Schedule time with your friends. Play with your children.  This is so important.  Know what/who you would do anything for and know the things that aren’t as important.  When you know that your family is a glass ball, you know that spending time with them is of the utmost importance.  If you drop that ball, guess what happens?  It shatters.  Think about your rubber balls and start prioritizing.  Your rubber balls are those things that won’t fall apart without you.  They will just keep on bouncing until you are ready for them.

7. Be real.

Don’t be afraid to be you.  Some people will like you and some won’t.  That’s okay.  It’s better to have a handful of friends that know and love you than to have a ton of acquaintances where you feel like you have to hide behind the person you aren’t.  Be true to yourself and own your story.  Remember, you never know whom you will inspire and who just might be scared to admit something that you’ve already been through.

8. Ignore the naysayers.

“Find yourself nowhere around them”.

This is the toughest one for me, hands down.  When you hear something bad being said about yourself, ask yourself if it is true.  Think of the source: Are you good friends with that person? Chances are you aren’t because true friends don’t talk about one another behind their backs. Focus on your truth.  You know your story.  Don’t let anyone get in the way of your truth.  Let those naysayer’s comments go in one ear and out the other.  It is completely and absolutely detrimental to let it take up any of your energy.  (Again, trust me on this.  I speak from experience.)

Remember to always be authentic and true to the person that you are. When you are real, you will inspire.  Own your story; it makes you who you are.  Know in your heart and believe that you are enough.  Love yourself. Finally, I’ll leave you with this (albeit cheesy), “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” – Oscar Wilde

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