Hands up those who are able to ‘be themselves’. I know there are many out there who cannot because they feel that being themselves means being treated differently, being discriminated against. It is a very sad place to be and can cause distress for many.
I was quite lucky, during my early career I worked for a startup. We were all in our twenties and we were able to bring ourselves to work. I never felt I needed to change who I was to fit in, neither did the rest of the people working for the organisation. I suspect the reason for this was because of the director of the organisation. He came from humble beginnings and was on the road to making a big name for himself and everyone loved his positive attitude and passion for his work. I wouldn’t say he was a particularly great leader, he had his faults but he created a friendly atmosphere, we were all friendly towards each other and often had a laugh at work.
I never felt that I could not be myself, in fact being me was an advantage. I was often asked to give some of the team wardrobe advice because they felt I was fashionable. I also helped to navigate them through dealing with their own behaviours. Some used terms about people that I felt where not respectful to the individuals concerned. I would let them know in a firm and confident way that they were not to use that language. I do believed they listened, I almost had a motherly affect on them as it was like telling off little kids some times.
Reflecting back, I remember a time when I was offered a sales position, working for the same company, I told the director that I would not undertake this role if it would cause the company to loose sales. I wasn’t about to change who I was to be client facing. Why did I say that? I knew very well being client facing would mean exposing myself to racist attitudes. His response to me was, “If they don’t want to deal with you Dianne, I don’t want to deal with them”. What he said gave me the confidents to take on the role.
Being yourself is about being confident in you. You should be able to be yourself in any situation you find yourself in. When I am within my wider community, I should feel comfortable using the vocabulary and dressing in the way I want to dress without feeling awkward. I am just being me. The me you see will always be authentic, it will never hide itself to suit your vision of me. As I gain more exposure because of my campaigning I will still continue to be me.
So my question to you is, are you being you? If not, why not? What is stopping you from being you? Any change you make should be to enhance you, to make you into a better version of you.
Look in the mirror, do you see you? Great! Continue to be you in all its facets.