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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Yost

Be Your True Self

Updated: Sep 20, 2018

After reading some of my work, a friend smiled. “I like your writing." She said. "Why didn’t you write this sooner?” I gave an honest answer. “Because I wasn’t ready.”

For those of you who don’t know, I wrote a blog for almost ten years. I called it “America’s Next Top Mommy." In it, I chronicled my adventures as a young mom. And while it was technically about me, it didn’t reflect me at all. I shared my stories but I didn't share my heart. Though I longed to write and even thought about penning a book, I struggled because I couldn’t find my voice. I didn’t know who I was in my 30s and the parts I did know, I didn't like. Most of us battle with at least a small amount of insecurity. It can take a while to fill our spaces confidently.

I didn’t know myself as a woman, as a wife, as a Christian, even as a person! And when I finally began to understand who I am, I lacked the assurance that I could be a bold version of myself. Instead, I worried that if I were to show my true self, everyone around me would scream and run. I feared judgment and rejection and I carried shame.

When fear and shame come together, they conceive lies. And when we are ashamed of who we are and fear revealing our hearts, we come up with clever disguises. Sometimes we borrow from the people around us and take on the qualities we admire about them. Sometimes we put on fake personalities, masks that cover our identity. Other times we simply hide ourselves in protection. We, as Brené Brown says, “turn into chameleons.” I hid my passions, my opinions, my gifts, pretty much anything that I thought others might reject. It was easier if people rejected my mask because it cushioned the blow of rejection to know they weren't rejecting the real me.

When it came to my writing, it never lived up to its potential because it wasn’t authentic. It came from the heart but my heart pretended to be someone else because I muted what I really wanted to say. My blogs were contrived and superfluous. I wasn’t ready to be heard. But something magical happened when I turned 40. I grew up and stopped wanting to pretend. Perhaps I became too tired and busy to play make-believe. Maybe self-acceptance takes a while to cultivate. Whatever the cause, my attitude shifted. I realized that what other people think- whether good or bad- is none of my business. My people pleasing pants didn’t fit anymore, so I traded them in for some kinder, stretchier, Licha loving leggings.

At 41, I thought, I’m not so bad. At 42, I realized, God created me and He saw what he made and all of His creation is good. When we mistakenly conclude that we make ourselves, it’s easy to see all the flaws. But when we understand that it was God who made us, we remember that He doesn’t make mistakes. I am exactly who I am supposed to be. So are you. You are perfectly and wonderfully made. You are the only you there is, a gift to the world who is the only one who can contribute your special voice, smile, personality and gifts. You are a masterpiece!

Artists do not create masterpieces to hide in dark spaces or to cover themselves with masks. God creates for display under bright lights, to bring awe and inspiration to those who gaze upon His incredible craftsmanship. Not everyone will appreciate your value but that doesn’t change your worth. I’m not fond of the Mona Lisa but my opinion doesn’t matter. And neither do the opinions of the people who don’t see your artistry. Let them keep walking because the next person who stands before you may stop to notice all your unique blends of color, all the intricate brush strokes God painted over you.

We are each a window through which others can gaze and see the face of God. But only if we aren’t afraid to leave our window uncovered. Click To Tweet

When I realized this about myself, I could finally write. I was ready! I had the strength and confidence to be my authentic self on a page. I was no longer ashamed to show the good and the bad. I had the freedom to share my ridiculous sense of humor and my heart no longer pretended to be someone else. I was ready. And when someone doesn't like what I write (which is a guarantee), it doesn't bother me like it did before because I know my identity does not rest in what I do, my identity rests in Christ.

We are each a window through which others can gaze and see the face of God. But only if we aren’t afraid to leave our window uncovered. I removed my masks and threw them in the garbage. There are still days when I long for the comfort of being hidden because it’s scary to show myself but it helps to shift my focus off of me and onto God. I pray, please remind me who I am so I can be myself confidently. And remind me whose I am so I remember my purpose. Some days I fail but most days I succeed.

I share all of this because I know we all have gifts, unique and special callings crucial to making the world a better place. And if you can relate to how I felt, afraid to show yourself, I want to encourage you to step out of the darkness and into the light. Let people see you, all of you. It’s okay. I know it’s hard because people have hurt some of us and we want to self-protect but hiding isn’t really protection, it’s prison. Don’t serve a sentence for someone else’s opinion of you. You are worthy of claiming your space in the world. In fact, we’ve been waiting for you! Most of us will love you and marvel at your beauty. Those who can’t only have the power to affect your life if you let them. Stop giving them permission. Tell them to keep walking because there are people in line who can’t wait to see what God has made.

Claim your space! God put you here for a reason. Shed the mask. Stop hiding. Live in the confidence that God stitched you together lovingly, with great care and talent. He created you with a purpose. Live out that purpose boldly! Are you ready?

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