Be you, bravely.

The older I get the more authentic I become…and truly… it’s quite freeing.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we’re suppose to be and embracing who we are.  -Brene Brown

As the youngest of nine children, finding a space that was uniquely my own was always a little challenging for me. In part, I was a bit of a perfectionist growing up but also it can be hard to identify who you really are when you are constantly surrounded with the same people who have a certain expectation of who you should be.

I am not spontaneous. I like a plan. Some of my family members struggled with this side of me. And as the youngest of nine living with many personalities sharing their thoughts and opinions … I sometimes questioned why I wasn’t more spontaneous. The reality is…I am just not. No need to explain, right? It’s just me. And that’s okay. 🙂

Being authentic requires you to settle in your skin–and all the ‘imperfections’ as well as all the wondrous parts of being a human–accepting yourself for simply being you.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to be you when those around you accept you for who and what your are. I am lucky that my husband appreciates me (most of the time-ha!) for just being me–the girl that can’t sit still, takes on way more than she should, is a very messy but good cook, and tends to add a crazy love and a lot of chaos wherever she goes.

We are all different…thank goodness for that…for it is our differences that make the world a wonderful place.

When I reflect back to my 12 year old self…I see a kind, freckled, strawberry-blonde and slightly self conscious little girl who was terrified to speak in front of my class and equally fearful of heights. I grew up in the small town of Westwood, Massachusetts. In fact, in ninth grade my math teacher asked the class, “Who is the most nervous to speak in front of the class?” And everyone, turned around and looked at me! Yikes!  Near my neighborhood was a old Victorian building used as the 6th grade school. On the backside of the building was a huge fire escape–and old staircase that literally terrified me. My friends and sisters would climb to the top–and I would reluctantly follow with the fear that the stairs would break and I would crash to the cement ground. When my husband and I climbed Diamond Head in Oahu, Hawaii during our honeymoon, I was at times paralyzed with fear. But as the years have gone by, I have pushed through this fear (though it creeps in time to time) and took a hot air balloon ride (loved it!) and more recently joined my son on a helicopter tour of Boston–but the helicopter had no doors! And I did it…and it was amazing.

I have learned as I get older, the most gratifying life events have been when I pushed my limits. Pushed past my fears and let go of my control a bit. My first month in my job as an outpatient dietitian at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital required that I present 10 talks. That’s right, 10 talks in one month. A big daunting task for the girl who feared speaking in public. The 10 talks included speaking at Harvard Medical School to the medical students (um, no pressure there!) and another speaking event to the medical residents in the internal medicine clinic. I learned quickly, I had to embrace the challenge. And this became easier, when I accepted that I wasn’t suppose to be perfect and know everything. Just prepare well and do my best.

Fast forward: Now, 25 years later my job consists of talking around the globe…often, in front of the smartest researchers in the world. Who would have guessed? Not me.  And I although I might not know everything (um who does?!)… I do know my nutrition specialty. I bring my unique perspective and experience to my talks. And that alone, is more than enough. (But, it took me some time to realize this!)

Today’s post is about being brave. Being authentic. Being who you are suppose to be…not who anyone else in your universe thinks you should be. Just finding who you are…pushing yourself outside the box if you want to–or not, and settling into your brave new skin.

Authenticity mean really truly living in your own skin. It’s where full compassion for yourself and others can be found and it’s when you can say:

Should

Would

Could

Did.

But you are playing by your own personal rule book.

Why this topic on a digestive health blog? Because I think it is an essential message for everyone…but maybe even more so for those who suffer with chronic illness. We often bring our A game for others (when we feel sick on the inside and might just need a day in bed), often suffer in silence and keep our digestive talk to the smallest circle of friends (…if that!) And although your chronic illness shouldn’t define you or hold you back, I do think it’s part of your authentic self ( & mine too) and sometimes you just need to honor it.  And its okay to accept your illness and share it. You might be surprised that your story will inspire others to be more accepting of themselves and ultimately more authentic too.

#IBelieveinyourStory