The year was 2002. I was a freshman in college with so many dreams. One of my biggest dreams was to find someone whom I could be in a relationship and share all of my love with.
I would dream about this - we would be madly in love just like in the movies. I would be unbelievably happy and elated. This is the only thing that mattered to me at that time, because I excelled at school and figured college would be no different. I had figured out all the other things in my life - career, social life, where I would live – I just needed to find the perfect person to spend my life with.
I was obsessed with relationships and more so obsessed with my plan of life. Life was like a chess board for me. I would plan my moves based on what reactions I would get or circumstances happened. I had to make this thing - this relationship - happen.
I started flirting, dating, and meeting people I thought would fit my criteria. Little did I know I was going to be in for a big upset, over and over and over again. You see, I had based my criteria solely on what I “thought” would be good for me, on things that would “make me happy” and sustain “that happy feeling.” What it didn’t include was who I was and who would be a match for the real me.
I met someone that I thought I was going to marry. I did everything to keep this relationship alive. It was 4 years of my life, and I knew that it had to work no matter what. I literally forgot who I was, I forgot how to be open, I forgot what it meant to ask for something in the relationship. I was okay with not asking for anything and forgetting about what I wanted because, for me, it was more important for me to continue this relationship that I spent so much effort and time on then to really ask myself if I was truly happy.
To be honest, asking myself if I was happy was scary for me. I didn’t want to admit that it wasn’t.
At that time in my life, I saw all of my friends in strong long-term relationships and I wanted that for myself. I compared myself to them and even tried to emulate them. I thought that being like them would get me what I wanted.
I was wrong.
That relationship ended after 4 years of dating and an engagement. But it ended on my terms. I came to the realization that I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wasn’t being authentic and I definitely wasn’t being open about what I wanted in the relationship.
I knew that, moving forward, I had to do work on trying to understand the hard questions:
Authenticity by definition means to be genuine. It means to be you at your essence.
We were all created to be our own unique self. There is a special uniqueness that is in you that no one else has. It could be a talent, a gift or simply a quality that comes very naturally to you that could be difficult for others.
The amazing thing about authenticity is that, once you become aware of it, you can move through life and mostly relationships very easily. You will know exactly who you want to be wit and be able to have an open conversation about the things you are seeking. Authenticity is also fluid; as you become more self-aware, you will slowly start to “re -identify” with thoughts, beliefs and activities that seemed to never be in your reality.
Living authentically allows us to live a life with more ease and intention.Though the journey to get here might not be straightforward or painful - it is well worth it. That is exactly the experience I have had. After my breakup, I took a lot of time to understand who I am, what my authentic self looks like, and what my essence is. I was closed off to love, relationships or anything that had to do with it (a lot of that was due to the pain that I felt.). The more I dove into my own healing, the more I realized that I didn’t love myself at all. Instead, I was constantly looking for love and validation from others. I focused a lot of my healing on self - love. Fast forward 2.5 years, and I was introduced to a person who is now my husband.
But how did I establish my essence?
Below are some of the questions and journaling prompts that helped me. I am confident they will help you too.
Here are some journaling prompts and questions that will guide you to understand your authenticity:
Once you establish your essence and who you are authentically, the next step is to be open in relationships. Be yourself and don’t hold back.
This openness can be daunting, scary and also unnatural. Why? Because as humans, the one thing we fear the most is rejection. Rejection is an emotion that brings all sorts of pain, sadness and unwanted energy. I can guarantee just reading the word rejection probably brought up some sort of energy in you that made you feel uncomfortable or heavy.
However, understanding that rejection is part of life is important. You aren’t here to please everyone; you are here to attract the people that accept you for you!
Going back to my story – knowing all I did from my failed relationships, I knew things would be different this time. Though I was still afraid if my future husband would accept my authentic quirky self, I plunged forward. The beauty of it was he also didn’t hold back - he was his own weird quirky self with me. We have now been married for almost 10 years – still learning and growing together!
If you are in a relationship where you don’t feel comfortable doing something, learn to say no. Ask yourself - does this align with who I am? If you get a strong internal feeling that the answer is “no,” walk away.
Be open with your partner. Establish open communication where you are allowed to voice your thoughts in a safe environment. Understand that it’s okay to have disagreements. No two people are alike.
Once you understand who you are, the next step is to observe your partner. It is important to learn to listen to what they have to say and understand a slightly different perspective. Listening to each other is what allows you to grow together!
Attracting people into your life is about being true to yourself and believing that the right people will magnetize to you. If you are constantly people pleasing, you will deplete your energy with people that are not fulfilling your life. You will only attract the people who want to “take” from you.
You are the star of your life. The life you wish to live is always accessible to you; you have to choose it and open your arms.
You do not have to overcomplicate things by over-analyzing - being open is simply about you. It’s about asking for what you want, what you believe in, and what will add value to your life. This activity starts from your core and then moves to your mind. Don’t let your thoughts overwhelm you. A good exercise for this is journaling - you can keep a journal or voice recorder to record your thoughts and feelings. Revisit these often to bring more self-awareness.
Like other things in life, relationships can be challenging. However, establishing a practice to understand yourself and who you are authentically and being open about what you seek can drastically change the relationships you attract in your life.
I never wanted to be who I was authentically or be open about what I was seeking in relationships because I was scared of rejection. More so ,I was conditioned to believe that my true self does not belong in this world, that she couldn’t be successful. I kept her in a closet and thus went through even more struggles in my life.
I personally know how hard it is to own who you are and do the work to really become self-aware. However, I am so grateful for those experiences in my life. I have no regrets. Those moments in my life were pivotal – I most likely wouldn’t even be writing this blog if I hadn’t taken the time to understand who I am and what my essence is.
It’s your turn now. Take the first step. Ask yourself: Am I being my authentic self in life, in relationships? Do I need to define this for myself? The journey is important, and I know you are going to do an amazing job once you start it.
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Urvi Shah, Certified Life Coach is a life coach, mentor, and mindfulness teacher. Urvi is focused on helping her clients understand their value system, inner voice and authenticity to live a life filled with more freedom. She helps her clients focus on inner validation and self love by using mindfulness techniques and teachings. Her mission in life is to spread the message of unconditional love and connectedness to all of humanity. Urvi works with women in the professional or corporate setting that identify as perfectionist, high achievers or those that lack confidence to work towards their dreams. Her speciality is working with those that deal with anxiety, stress or everyday "work" issues by being empathetic. She has her own story of 15+ years working in corporate and dealing with anxiety, stress and other mental health issues. Urvi was able to get through it by practicing and learning mindfulness. Please contact Urvi at [email protected] or visit her website at: www.innerserenitylifecoaching.com