The idea that freedom is being yourself is truly a revelation to me. Of course, it makes sense. It is liberating to boldly be yourself, just as it is constraining to suppress your true nature in an attempt to be liked by everyone. So often I feel imprisoned by others opinions and expectations of me, when in reality, they are almost always self-imposed.
On the topic of freedom, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
Freedom for me means being who I am. Professional women are supposed to have short, neat hair. I have long hair which has a mind of its own. It’s harmless… and it’s me. It is, indeed, liberating to be “ludicrous” and harmlessly deviant.
I once was a speaker at a university and while on campus was invited to attend a luncheon for the women faculty and staff on campus. During my luncheon speech, I asked if there was a dress code. I was quickly assured that the students could wear whatever they wanted. I told them I was asking about the women who worked on campus. They were all dressed exactly alike—suits, shirts, and some form of little tie. The only deviant was one woman who had a ruffle on her shirt!
Freedom is choosing the clothing that fits our personalities and feels good on us. This is one way we express who we are.
The thing is, I care entirely too much what other people think of me. Deep down, I am afraid that if I reveal my true self, I will be rejected. My colleagues won’t respect me or take me seriously. I will no longer be viewed as intelligent and competent. And all of this matters to me, why? So much of my self-esteem is predicated on people other than myself.
One of the things I hope to accomplish in this year of reflection and meditation is building my self-esteem. That includes embracing my true self and letting my guard down to just be. It’s important to allow yourself to have fun once in awhile; don’t take yourself too seriously. Professionalism does not mean stripping yourself of all personality. You can still be a professional while being you (and chances are you’ll feel a lot better about it).