“You suppose you are the trouble, but you are the cure. You suppose that you are the lock on the door, but you are the key that opens it. It’s too bad that you want to be someone else. You don’t see your own face, your own beauty. Yet no face is more beautiful than yours.” ~ Rumi
I have never felt as vulnerable and exposed as I do right now.
My whole life, prior to the launch of this website, has been spent living behind my “safe and protected” mask.
This mask felt safe because the world “out there” was sold as such a scary place. And worse, I was sold on the belief that, without a mask, I would be exposed as a fundamentally flawed and lacking person.
In order to be loved, accepted and thought of as “worthy” I needed to look, think and act a certain way, and I needed to have a very particular and “pre-approved” set of goals and ambitions.
If I didn’t conform I’d be ostracized from the tribe!
And so I conformed.
But each day that passed, the weight and limitation of this mask suffocated me a little more. Each moment I acted out other people’s ideals and beliefs (which, ultimately, were really my own projections) I lost a little piece of myself. I lost contact with who I was and what my truth and authenticity were meant to express.
The more I protected myself through this mask, the more closed off I became. A superficial facade suppressed and replaced feelings and emotions, giving off an air of confidence and “put togetherness,” when in reality I carried around a confused and lost little boy within me.
I lost the ability to express myself genuinely and act spontaneously.
Conforming is the most draining full-time job that exists. You have to constantly cross-reference societal ideals, beliefs and customs—ever-shifting with the time and trends, and set upon a delusional foundation of fear and scarcity.
It got to a point within me where this way of being became unsustainable. I was exhausted. I just wanted to live in alignment with myself.
The problem was I had no idea what that even meant or looked like. I realized I didn’t know who I was outside of my connection to my family, friends and culture. But I did know that although those aspects were absolutely a part of me, they were only a part.
I was much more than my role within these reference points. And I desperately needed to find out what that was for me.
So I did the only logical thing left to do: I quit my job, gathered up all my savings and left to South America for the year.
I was finally able to experience myself outside of the fish tank.
I took this time to explore who I was, what I truly valued and how I wanted my life to be lived. I spent my time reading, meditating, doing yoga, volunteering in schools and in communities, experimenting with plant medicines, watching spiritual teachings on Youtube and doing lots of alternative healing work. I exposed myself to everything I could find that would strip away the layers of armor I had accumulated over the years.
Everything was great when I was in these incredible healing spaces surrounded by inspiring and like minded people, but when the time came to come back home, I found myself resorting to the old self-protective tactics I thought I had healed.
In reality, I had returned with a brand new shiny mask with beautiful spiritual embroidery that portrayed this new identity of a world traveller and spiritual person who had finally figured life out. I was still holding on to what other people thought of me and how I wanted to be perceived.
It took a lot of further self-analysis and inner confrontation to fully face the most vulnerable parts of me that felt like they weren’t good enough to be seen as they were. But being committed as I am to this path of inner awakening, I knew I had no other choice but to completely put myself out there.
So finally, after years of inner exploration, brutal honesty and self accountability, I find myself ready to fully shed all these masks and to step into the truth of who I am. Although some fear still lingers, I find myself immensely liberated and empowered to be communicating this.
This is who I am.
This is what I’ve always been about.
And I’m ready to soar and stumble my way through the entire unfolding.
In what ways do you conform to societal ideals? In what ways do you repress your own truth and authenticity? What will it take for you to step into your own authentic power?
When the fear of remaining the same becomes greater than the fear of stepping into the unknown, then and only then will you take action.
Author: Jonathan Hermida
Editor: Toby Israel