A few years back I was asked by a workshop leader “What is the hardest part of being you”? Without hesitation I answered “just being myself”. Superficially it seemed like a simple question but as soon as I answered I realized I had spoken my inner truth. The truth will come from our heart unfiltered when we go with our first thoughts. I knew in that moment that my answer was my truth. I was so bothered by the truth of my answer to that question that I knew it was time to explore further, so I did.

The first part of my exploration and self-reflection was “What does it mean to be me”? I realized quickly that being me was complex and not very simple at all. I wasn’t looking for a textbook or workshop explanation. I was seeking the inner truth that comes from the heart.

My truth about being me that I learned many years ago that I hold on to each and every day is this – “To be me means that I embrace the authenticity of myself in all areas of my life. There is no right or wrong associated with my authentic self. It is simply me”.

To embrace the authentic me in all areas of my life was the part that was uncomfortable for me as I was working through this process. The world gives so many distractions, opinions, truths, and pressures that I was finding it hard to know where the world stopped and the real me began. This was true in all aspects of my life. So I dived a little deeper.

Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, entrepreneur are just a few of the “me” roles and I knew I had to explore all of them. My key common denominator was that I wanted everyone to be happy and somehow in my cellular DNA I had been programmed to believe that it was my job to make sure that happened at all costs. I even recognized in doing this work that it began around the time I was 12 years old creating an angry and frustrated teenager who grew into an irritable and discouraged young adult.

Before I move on, I feel that it is important to note that I am not passing any judgments here. I came to accept and appreciate all the experiences in my life. Those experiences have empowered me to be the person I am today. Acceptance and appreciation are key to me being me and you being you. It is through acceptance and appreciation that we are able to let go of the emotional connection of being what other people declare we must be in order to be loved and accepted.

Embracing the “real me” also meant that many of my family members and friends became uncomfortable with whom I had become. This was a very difficult part of the process for me, as it is for most of the people I have worked with around this same process.

Friendships were severed that I cherished. I still cherish those severed friendships along with the experiences and contributions they made to my life. The reality though was that these friends were unable to see “me”. They only saw the “me” they wanted me to be.

Many of my family members didn’t like the changes either but they came to accept the changes even though they didn’t understand why the changes were necessary. These relationships I am happy to say are even stronger today and have allowed room for so many amazing people and experiences to come into my life. More than I would have ever thought possible.

In order for me to “be me” I had to be comfortable in my own skin and be willing to let go of what and who was preventing that. I came to understand that the “value of me” was in the “being of me” and not in other people. I became mindful of what I was allowing to penetrate my life circle and quickly letting go of any toxicities that arose.

Fast forward twenty years and I can say that for the most part, it is easy being me. I’ll admit though that sometimes old behaviors, old limiting beliefs and strongholds will rear their ugly heads. When they do, I quickly acknowledge, accept and appreciate all that it is and let it go quickly and easily always embracing the me that I am, completely and totally free to be me. And that my friend is empowered living.