When I heard George Michael was dead, my first thought was not how sad I was, but about how much life that man stuffed into his 53 years.
Talk about living boldly. And authentically. And unapologetically.
He embodied it all.
No doubt he had his own struggles along that journey. We all do. The bold, authentic, unapologetic life IS a journey.
A worthwhile one.
To live this way we must learn to love ourselves. All the parts. The beautiful messiness that lives in all of us.
It takes bravery. It takes being willing to feel the fear of rejection, of failure, of embarrassment, of all the uncomfortable emotions and do, or say “the thing” anyway.
Yikes. Nothing easy there.
Feel the fear and take it with you.
The idea that you have to stop feeling scared before you make a move is simply untrue. And, when we believe this, it stops us in our tracks.
Brene Brown talks about vulnerability being the willingness to try something when you don’t know the outcome but believe that you can handle the outcome no matter what. No. Matter. What. Ugh.
That means you are not living in the safe zone. You are stepping outside of your norm. Outside of what you expect of yourself AND outside of what those around you expect of you. Yikes. Scary.
We are creatures of habit. We tend to color within the lines we have drawn for ourselves, or that we have accepted for ourselves.
George Michael knew this well. He knew the lines that society had drawn for him. And, instead of continuing to go along with pretending to be something he was not (a straight man), he boldly embraced his sexuality when he was publicly outed. He decided to be ALL of himself. In public. Remember that video??? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZAYdHcDtU
He was willing to lose fans. He was willing to be ostracized. He was willing to lose his music career. He decided it was more important to live openly, boldly, authentically, than to keep up a false self to “fit in.”
There are consequences to this kind of living. You may lose people. You may not “fit” in all the places you “fit” before. You may also gain people who love you for you. All of you. You may find deeper connections with those you already know because you ACTUALLY let them in. You may find places that you genuinely FIT because you are fully embraced for who you REALLY are. Who you really WANT to be.
The people around you may not “get it.” The people around us are creatures of habit too. Especially our families. When we change, or speak up, or try something new, it impacts them too. And they don’t always like how that feels. So, they may pressure us to go back to coloring within the lines. The lines that are comfortable for them.
The pressure to maintain the status quo can be very strong. Deep breaths. You can take little steps at a time.
So, WHAT steps…? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get started….
- Do I WANT to do that?
Host that party? Go to that party? Volunteer for that? Continue on this date? See that movie? Eat at that restaurant? Stay in this relationship? Stay in this job? Dress this way?
Get in touch with YOUR opinions. Flexibility is great. It is important.
It can also be a way to hide from your own opinions and simply avoid conflict.
2. Do I AGREE with that?
What that person just said? What that group stands for? That offensive comment? Those politics?
Speaking up can be done in MANY ways. When done effectively, speaking up can actually open conversation. It can invite dialogue that may help people understand each other more. It offers opportunity for growth and connection between people. Even people with different opinions.
Be willing to be OPENLY curious about others ideas and opinions. And be willing to OPENLY share yours.
Open the door to lively conversation… which includes conflict. Yep. Embrace conflict.
3. What ARE my values?
Am I living what I believe? Am I satisfied in my relationships? Am I living in a way that feels good to me? Am I loving myself as I love others? Am I teaching people to treat me the way I want to be treated? Am I putting myself and my wellbeing first or last?
In order to live the life you want, you have to define what that is. And THEN, live it. Even when it is uncomfortable to do so.
Ugh. So. Hard.
Until it isn’t anymore. Because, when you are living in a way that feels true to who you are, and what you believe, the energy you have is SO MUCH MORE. It takes a GREAT deal of energy to live stifled, or limited, or contained, or lonely. The deepest loneliness is often felt when we are surrounded by those who we feel don’t REALLY know us or see us. Often, because we aren’t willing to take the risk to let them in to the REAL us. Sigh, that takes SO much energy.
When you are living more authentically, that energy can now be spent in the living of the life you love. With the people who love you just as you are. Because you are willing to show them EXACTLY who you are.
The risks of doing this can feel SO big. Because the uncomfortable feelings of rejection, failure, embarrassment, loneliness, etc are SO uncomfortable, we tend to shy away from them. We lean OUT from the discomfort. Even when leaning IN to it is really the way through to the more authentic, genuine, bold life.
So, ask yourself some questions. Explore your inner world. Be curious about yourself and your life. And take some chances.
Be bold. Be curious. Be unapologetic about your authentic self. George Michael’s spirit will surely appreciate it.