Who were you, before the world told you who to be?
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before right? Probably from some random motivational post on instagram or tiktok. Maybe you cocked your head to the side and allocated all of .2 of a second of thought to it, or perhaps you just kept scrolling searching for that dopamine hit of escape in the next meme, reel or other distraction (pimple popping videos anyone?)
Here’s the thing though, it’s questions like this ^ that can drastically change your life. Should you allow yourself to sit with it, for longer than it takes to boil a kettle.
If you’re still with me, I’m curious – what comes up for you when you ponder this?
Who were you before the world told you who you should be… ‘the world’ of course being totally subjective. Maybe you grew up with stern parents, pushing their agenda of university and stability; in an attempt to squeeze you into their mould of success. Maybe it was your peer group through those influential years, morphing you into someone who places judgement before curiosity when coming across people with opposing views… it could be ‘society’ and instagram influencers showing you how perfect your house should look, how clean your kids should be and how often you should be pleasuring your husband. Which of course makes you want to trash the house, let the kids run feral and roll over with a ‘headache’ every night. Because you want to say ‘fuck you’ to the world. You want to say ‘fuck you’ to the ‘shoulds’.
But you don’t. Because you care too much about what other people think right now, so you continue on wearing the mask of perfect woman, perfect wife, perfect mother. And it’s exhausting, is it not? It’s why you put the kids down every night and then slump onto the couch, maybe pour yourself a glass of red, and binge whatever is trending on netflix… in the hopes you have some conversation fuel should you be lucky enough to engage in an adult conversation that lasts longer than 5 minutes this week. The pressure to stay relevant and be present is weighing down on you. Wouldn’t it feel good to put it all down for a hot second?
I’m generally interested in what lies beyond the mask. In who it is that is standing beneath the mountain of responsibilities and expectations. In YOU.
Who were you before all of the external influences shape-shifted and moulded you into this current version of yourself? When you would bound out of bed and be genuinely excited about life and what’s happening? When you would laugh and ‘go with the flow’ because the flow was exciting and filled with joy, not chaotic and somehow predictable all at once.
I bet you’re wondering too?
The easiest place to start is by going all the way back to childhood. Whilst the majority of our unconscious programming is embedded between the ages of 0-7 years old, it’s also the place in which we are often the most ourselves.
What did you enjoy doing as a child? How did you like to express yourself? What did you do for fun? Who did you most admire and look up to? What would you daydream about? What was in that vision of adulthood you held, that had you beaming, ‘I can’t wait to grow up!’?
Whilst, sure – as we age and grow into adults our interests may change, your mission and purpose in life will transform and of course, our priorities shift (especially when children come along). But the reality is, that little version of you, still resides within you. Do you feel connected to them? Can you access them easily or does it feel like a huge void of space between you now and that innocent, playful dreamer?
If you feel the space and are struggling to connect, here’s my advice: block some time in your calendar to simply BE. Whether it’s 30 minutes before the kids are awake or 2 hours because you’ve begged and pleaded on your hands and knees to your mother/father/friend/neighbour/barista to watch the kids.. it is time to: just. be.
What do you want to do with this time? Tune in. And listen to your internal voice for a hot second. Ask your inner child.
Do they want to paint? Write? Dance? Go down a slide? Do a cartwheel? Pull a funny face? Pencil roll down a grassy hill? Skip instead of walk to the kitchen?
I know what you’re thinking, ‘how on earth does this help me connect to who I am beyond societal conditioning. I don’t need to play, I need tangible things to do to figure out my next move’. Well, sure. I agree with you… and also, I don’t.
Because half of your problem is being in your head and not in your body. Ahem, which is why you are so caught up in societal conditioning in the first place.
So trust me, it starts with playing. With releasing expectations on yourself. With freeing your mind and dropping into your body. Then sit. with. it. Create space and watch the magic come through.
I promise you, you’re under there. You just have to lift the mask and you’ll see it too.
And I get it, it feels vulnerable, right?
Brené Brown said it perfectly when she said:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
You know it, and I know it – continuing life the way you are now – buried under these rules and expectations you are choosing to place on yourself… it’s easy. From a fundamental, fly under the radar perspective. But is it easy for you fricken soul? For your life’s mission and purpose? To remain buried under there? Nope, didn’t think so.
So, can you choose to show up today as you, without the mask, and without the expectation of getting any particular result? Purely for the experience of expression without rules and boundaries.
Again, it doesn’t have to take long and it doesn’t have to be major. It can however be the start of your self growth, self acceptance and authentic self expression journey.
Take it from someone who has not only walked that path herself, but has helped many other incredible humans pave their way too – it’s worth it. It is the most liberating and empowering work you will ever do.