Be yourself.

I know. This goes totally without saying, but it needs to be said, reiterated, and ingrained.

In a world that's constantly telling you who to be, being yourself can be pretty difficult. I mean, think about it. We are constantly berated by the media to look or be a certain way. We are inundated with ads telling us what we need. We live in a society where self-worth is measured by success and the money you make. You even have loved ones (who mean well) giving you life advice because they know what's best for you. But do they? Does the world? No one is supposed to know you better than yourself. But what happens when you've tried to be all these things for everyone else (a good daughter, sister, employee, etc.) that you cease to know and be who you truly are? You land in this weird limbo where you go on and try to find yourself.

Find yourself? Really, Michelle? What is this hippy dippy post? Shouldn't you blog about writing or books? Well, think about it, aren't character arcs in books the same thing? The MC is trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in their story world. They go through the ups and downs, falter, get back up, back track, then persevere. Isn't it fitting that we undergo the same thing in our lives? Heck, we go through it several times at different stages of our lives.

For me, life and writing are interconnected. How I live my life shows up in how I write my stories. It contributes to the characters I identify with, how I express myself, how willing I am to push myself and my characters.

Not so hippy dippy anymore. Am I right?

Let's be real. I'm writing this post because I've landed in this really weird limbo zone where I am trying to find myself. This post is me embracing my faults and being totally okay with it, because that's just who I am right now. And that's really cool because I'm going to just own it.

To give you some background, last year was a blur to me. I felt as if I was pulled into so many directions. Wedding planning, new job, writing and revising, trying to meet everyone's expectations by being a dutiful daughter and sister, not just with my own family, but a new family I was marrying into. I also wanted to be a good friend, a supportive fiancé. I wanted to lose weight, be the best me possible, do all these things and be this ideal version of myself as put together, having it all figured out, and super successful (Spoiler alert: No one knows what they are doing. They are just doing their best.). I was so concerned with all these roles I played for other people, I forgot that my first priority was to myself. That being, staying true to who I was and living an authentic life.  But living an authentic life does not go hand in hand with living life the way I 'think' I'm supposed to live it.

(Sounds kind of like a contemporary novel, doesn't it? Girl strives to be perfect for everyone else, but realizes it's the imperfections that make her who she is and why she's loved and admired in the first place.)

Unfortunately, I strayed from myself enough that a small part of me snapped back into place. As if this tension was too much to bear, and I returned to the essential qualities that make me me. I started to stand up for what I believed in, what I thought was best for me, doing things that made me feel good about myself and made me into a better person, not the person I thought I should be. It sounds so easy right? Acknowledge it and then just do it?

But it's not. There's so much more interlaced with it.  Some might not like the change, some see it as a step back. You open yourself to being criticized for being honest with yourself. You make mistakes, but learn from it. You wrestle with doubt. You wonder if being you is good enough.  

Spoiler alert: Yes. It is. You are enough. As long as you are doing your best and being you, you are enough. You don't need to rack accomplishments or make stacks of paper to feel worth it or to feel like you matter.

You know why? Because when you are your best self, you are giving yourself permission to be authentic. And being authentic is pretty damn special. There's over 7 billion people living on this world, but only one of you. Isn't that pretty incredible?

If you're a writer, take this thought and connect it to your characters. How can you create them to be just as special and authentic as you are? Once you figure that out, allow them to be unapologetically themselves. Own their flaws and let their world burn in fire or fill their fields with daisies. See how they take it. See them falter, see them grow, see them when all is dark, and all is light. Either way, if you yourself are authentic and honest so will your characters and your stories be.

If you can believe it, I struggled with that for over a year. Owning my work, owning my art. Owning the darkness that stews in my MC as well as in me. Owning my authenticity and essentially being myself as a woman, a writer, and a human being. I am who I am. And if I try to run away from that, then I'll find myself fatigued, out of breath, and completely lost.

But getting lost is a destination and finding your own way out can be a wonderful journey.

It goes without saying, but I needed to hear it, and I'm writing this in case you need to hear it too: be yourself and don't apologize for it. That's authenticity at its finest.