The other day I shared an article by Ezgi Tasdemir on LinkedIn and FB that talked about being one’s whole self, being authentic to self, self-monitoring, setting boundaries, and embracing what sets us apart while holding steadfast to our values in situations where there are expectations of thinking or behaving a certain way (particularly in the Corporate space). The article challenged readers to clear a path of comfort toward being different and celebrating one’s uniqueness. It also came right on time for me with some things I’d been going through personally and professionally, and had been discussing with colleagues and family. It especially struck home because it touched on one of the values I hold in most high regard, and to which I hold others to a high expectation- authenticity. For very specific reasons (probably not much different at all from the reasons others do), I rarely cross the boundaries of work and play, to the point that I also typically keep LinkedIn as the only vehicle for professional interactions and FB as the sole mechanism for a personal, work-associates free zone. I intentionally rarely mix work and play, because setting boundaries is so healthy in work and play. In fact, it is my personal belief that most times the two worlds should be kept separated if not just for balance alone.
Tasdemir's article really resonated with me, so to that point, I’ve done some reflection and have some thoughts, insights, and advice to share this evening on things that have changed my life, happiness, job satisfaction over the years, as well as my comfort level with vulnerability and risk-taking, caring more about keeping myself happy and true to self and values over others, and truly allowing myself to shine and have my career take flight. In the spirit of vulnerability (I’m naturally-vulnerable but to share with those it may help): For many years, I did a grave disservice to myself by not owning the shoes I walked in and letting others overshadow and/or color/tarnish how I operated. By not believing fully in myself or my capabilities. By selling myself short (until a great mentor showed me the way on exactly how I was short-selling myself, how to authentically showcase my true worth and market value, and trim the fat along the way). By feeling that because it was in some unwritten rule book that I had to be someone I wasn't- be inauthentic, which is completely against my very fiber.
No more can I afford to be that naive, overly-hopeful person who thinks that there is no place in the workplace for authenticity, or that people are not at times awfully selfish and horrible, or that everyone is as self-aware as we'd like. I’m more attuned to the harsh realities of life now than I was back then, and on how to maneuver through the challenges that often present themselves. I've become savvier at putting myself and my needs first while maintaining my own dignity, integrity, authenticity, and values. I am forever grateful for (and to) the wonderful mentors I’ve had. Thanks to some self-monitoring and these mentors, I have not been that naive, overly-hopeful, confused, repurposed shell of my authentic self for some time except under extreme/rare/politically-charged situations. Sure, I’m still a hopeless romantic and dreamer that we can do better as humans, but that is what keeps quite a lively, grounding fire burning inside me so I refuse to go too far to give that up.
I hope that by sharing this advice others can avoid learning the hard way what took me year after year, refinement after refinement to learn the hard way. That said though, I do firmly believe that some of life’s greatest lessons are best served (and learned) the hard way. And sometimes for some it’s how the “mighty” must fall. I, personally, would rather be perceived as authentic than "mighty" any day. Authenticity is the stuff that legends are made of, while "might" can be very temporary, depending on the circumstances. In the article, Tasdemir notes that it WILL take work and self-monitoring. This I know to be fact, given my own experiences on the journey over the years. It will also require making some tough decisions on what/whom you’re willing to put up with and/or sacrifice/let go of in your life when the authenticity test has not been met. I encourage you to drop the dead weight if something/someone is weighing on you/weighing you down, whether in the personal or professional space.
Do NOT make the critical error of sitting idle while you wish to operate differently and know you should be. Do NOT let people push you aside, pass you over, or take advantage of you. Do NOT give up on your dreams. Do NOT underestimate/undersell your own strengths/bench strengths. Don’t do it!! Do NOT be afraid of taking risks or doing what’s right and best for you and your family EVER! DO believe in yourself and your capabilities. Do LOVE yourself above all (but faith) because that part of the article is very true too. DO use self-preservation when needed, as long as it’s not at the expense/to the detriment of others. Self-preservation can be very necessary and productive in work and play. I know this probably more than most things in life (likely more than many people as well because of some of my life's experiences). Just make sure you aren’t sacrificing too much of yourself in the self-preservation process. Don’t stay too long in self-preservation, because the longer you do, the possibility is high that you need to make a change of some sort (and the stakes can be high as well).
Here is a link to the article I’ve referenced. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did. I’m also grateful to have made a personal connection with the author after reading it, and having that discussion inspired me to get this blog post up within a couple of days after. My initial intent was to post it the same evening, but I got lost in something else at the time. Writers' minds also move at the speed of light and on various tangents, you'll find.
About the Author
Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a zeal for life, a love of family and friends, nature, and a love of laughter. I frequently laugh myself into tears and it makes me laugh even harder. My best friends love this about me. I love music, travel, new experiences, the Arts, and taking photos to capture and share precious and unique moments. I'm an admitted-Selfie Queen thanks to one of my girlfriends (you know who you are). I love exercise, trying new restaurants and recipes, and I love to dance! I embrace my world fully and everything around me, and hold it all near and dear, as if it's the last time I'll see or experience any of it.