Have you ever been in a house full of beautiful well-matched pieces of furniture, rugs, art, and decorative objects, yet you immediately felt that something was missing? Have you ever seen a man or woman dressed impeccably with the latest styles of clothing, shoes, and accessories but sensed something off somehow, maybe a little too perfect and not quite real?
Have you been in someone’s home and instantly felt so comfortable and relaxed? The house may or may not have been filled with gorgeous furnishings, but it felt like home, like part of the soul of the people who lived there was transferred into the furniture and objects in the home. It felt real and alive. The same goes for people – some people may or may not be wearing expensive clothing or the latest trends, but they just seem so natural and at ease, and by being real they make you feel better about yourself.
I saw a woman in a restaurant yesterday with fairly long silver, wavy hair pulled back on the sides. She wore jeans tucked into tall boots and a green corduroy jacket. She looked very neat and put-together, but she looked so authentic – like she was comfortable with who she was – and she seemed to be giving her full attention to the person across from her at the table. I may not be right about my assessment just by casually looking at someone in a restaurant, but I am fairly certain that I am. Her face and body language seemed to say that she was fully present and real.
In so many areas of our lives, we are encouraged to be like someone else. We sometimes read or hear things like “They are telling us that green is the color to be wearing this fall” or “This is a must-have this year”. Nothing wrong with enjoying the changing styles and colors. It can be fun to see what’s new and update our wardrobes or furnishings, but it’s so much more fun and important to put something of our authentic selves into everything we do.
This gets easier as we get older, I think. We spend a lot of years trying out different “selves” to see what fits, and it’s probably a necessary process. I believe it’s time though to encourage people at a younger age to like themselves, to feel confident in who they are, and not to worry if they don’t seem to be like everyone else. If everyone else is all the same, then most of them are playing a part by trying to be something they are not. Let’s teach kids to be their own “authority”, the author of their own lives. By this, I don’t mean they don’t respect and listen to parents, teachers, and other leaders, but they learn not to go along with things that “insult their souls” and they learn to feel confident in expressing their uniqueness.
We’re often looking for the expert opinion and advice from those we consider “authorities”. We forget that no one can know us better than ourselves, and we have an inner guidance system that is right for us. We can certainly benefit from other’s opinions and advice, but we can still pay attention to that inner voice that tells us whether or not that advice is right for us in our situation. Put some of yourself out into the world – in your home, in the way you dress, write, draw, paint, cook, act, garden, raise children, build, and run a business. It’s like the difference between a chain store and a charming boutique or a chain restaurant and a cozy, little bistro. We need more people who put soul into their homes, families, and workplaces – who dare to live authentic lives and, by their courage, encourage others to do the same.