Recently I took a personality test, which asked me about 144 questions about myself and how I view or feel about different situations. Some of the questions were spot on, easy to answer, and I was sure of how I felt. Others made me think a lot more, and some made me a feel a little uncomfortable because my honest answer wasn’t the answer that I hoped would reflect the real me. There was one question in particular that stood out to me in terms of who I am and who I hope to be. It had two statements to choose from and looked like this:
- I have preferred to inhabit my own little world.
- I have preferred to let the world know I am here.
This question really stuck with me. I am someone who has definitely inhabited my own little world! Of course I want to be recognized, accomplished and make my mark on the world, but I am also a mom of two boys under 4 years old, a grad student, volunteer, daughter, sister, friend; and sometimes just getting through the day and getting everything done is a “win” in my world. Although it is chaotic, it is also my comfort zone, and sometimes it takes just one experience outside of your comfort zone to open up a whole new perspective for you.
I was asked for a class to Google myself and see what came up. According to Google I pretty much didn’t exist in the world. Of course, not everyone wants to be found online, but if I am going to show up at all, I want to be found for the things that matter to me, my contributions to others and that reflect my own voice, not just my Facebook profile. I am more than my day to day life, and I want express myself in a way that represents the bigger picture of who I am. So how do we stand out and make our voices heard in a way that represents ourselves authentically? First we need to identify our values and how we want to connect with others, and then express ourselves in a real way that adds value to your presence.
Representing yourself and finding achievement through self-expression can be inspiring, creative, and can help you find emotional energy and freedom in your work. Self-expression is being aware of your true self; what you value, care about, and what gives you energy and motivation. Once you define this in your life, you can control when and how to present it to the world in a way that represents you.
Here are three ways to start expressing yourself authentically:
- Do it for you: You don’t need to impress anyone. Don’t be afraid of how others might react to when and how you express yourself. You don’t need anyone to validate or approve of you, especially when you are being authentic. Sometimes we take so long to create the perfect message in our minds that when we are ready to share it, the moment to do so has passed. Try and live in the moment and nurture your own voice. Don’t base your value on the number of people who “like” what you have to say.
- Find your passions: What do you love to do? How do you want to help people? Maybe it is something you want to do but don’t take the time to, or are afraid to do it because of where it might lead you. Experiment with different hobbies, sports and classes to find what outlet allows you to feel like you can be true to yourself.
- Let go of the outcome: We can’t control how others are going to express themselves and it is not always going to be positive or supportive. Be truthful to yourself and let the real you shine through. People will appreciate your genuine thoughts whether they agree with you or not.
Everyone has something to say, and expressing yourself in person and online can allow you to have a real connection with people who appreciate you for more than what’s on the surface. Having a presence online allows you to be found and attributed to the things that you care about. You are probably going to be found one way or another, so why not control that information yourself? You can be seen for the real you and the messages you want to send to people. Find your voice and an outlet to express yourself in a way that makes a difference in your life and in your community. Let the world know you are here!