Live Fully: You Could Be Just One Choice Away From Living Your Bliss

The other day I was at my favorite coffee shop (shout out to Something’s Brewing!). Ok, ONE of my favorites. I have multiple. I’m a coffee shop junkie. I was waiting for my drink. When it was ready, the college-aged barista popped around the counter to give it to me, then went back behind the counter. Then she shyly came back around and said, “Can I ask you a question?” I said sure! She asked, “Have you ever been turned down for a job because of your nose ring or tattoos?”

Well. Let me tell you. I didn’t get my nose ring until I was in my 30’s. I got my first (and second) tattoo when I was in my 40’s. Why did I wait so long? There’s only one reason: I was worried about what others would think. I was worried that other people wouldn’t accept me. That they would find more reasons not to like me. Would disapprove of me. It took me that long to lean into my authentic self and accept myself for who I was and how I wanted to show up in the world.

I desperately wanted a nose ring for years and years. I just didn’t have the guts to do it because I was worried about what other people would think. What a stupid reason not to do something. When I finally got it, I finally felt like my full self. My real self. I felt relief, because my outside matched my inside. I wanted a nose ring because I felt like it belonged to me. I have been to countries where it is normal for women to have nose rings, and I always thought they were so beautiful. I wanted to embody them, be part of their global sisterhood. But I was too scared for too many decades.

Has that ever happened to you? Where you realize that something makes you truly “You?”And as soon as you have the guts to do it, you feel like you just stepped into yourself more fully?

Can you imagine how it must be to feel this way on a bigger scale? I didn’t feel like my True Self until I had my nose ring. I know it sounds silly, but it’s the truth. I found peace and relief every time I looked in the mirror after that, knowing I was representing myself authentically and didn’t care what other people thought about it. Just imagine for a second if you were someone who is attracted to the same gender. Or imagine if you were born in a girl’s body but truly feel like you should be a boy. Can you imagine the constant pressure of the world pushing you to “just fit in?” Can you imagine gathering up the strength to tell those closest to you, not knowing if they will still love and accept you? Think how scary that must be.

The people I know who are LGBTQ knew early on in their lives that they had a disconnect between what the world expected of them based on their outer appearance, and what they felt in their hearts. Imagine the steely courage it takes to continue to stand up to society’s norms, your family’s expectations, strangers’ looks and comments…imagine how much tenacity that takes. And imagine facing all that as a young person. We’re not talking about just a nose piercing or tattoo. Those things are insignificant compared to what many people have to face in order to live their authentic lives. I’m so in awe of those brave people.

You wouldn’t believe how many incredible young people I’ve met since I started working as an EMT who confide in me. They wonder what they should do with their lives. Their parents don’t accept who they are, don’t want them to follow the path they feel called to in life. They don’t know if they have the guts to follow their dreams. They are lost.

I have a message for these marvelous young people. But it’s really a message for anyone looking to live more authentically. I tell my beautiful, strong, resilient friends that they can do literally anything in the world. And I’m not just saying that. I live that. Who in the world would have thought I would be an EMT? Who in the universe would have ever thought I would go to paramedic school??? Certainly not me. But I felt the idea drop into my soul a year ago, knew it was absolutely the right thing to do, and took one small step at a time to make that dream a reality. So I don’t accept any excuses. I don’t tolerate grown ups complaining about their lives. Because there is ALWAYS something you can do about it.

Don’t like your job? There is another one out there for you. Don’t feel fulfilled? Certainly you can fit in a hobby that fills your heart with joy for one hour a week. Feel like you have too much toxicity in your life? Start to change who you surround yourself with. You have the ability to change anything in your life that needs changing. No one is going to do it for you. Only you are in control of you. And nothing is off limits. You can do anything, change anything. It may take time. It may be hard. There will be growing pains. But if you commit to the change, and take one small step at a time, anything at all is possible.

So back to that sweet barista who asked about my nose ring and tattoos. I told her no, I’ve never been turned down for a job because of them. She said she really wants a nose ring and a tattoo, but is nervous about getting a job in the future if she follows her heart and gets that body art. I told my new friend that she needs to be her True Self. If she feels like she wants a nose ring and tattoo, she should do it. Any job that turns her down for being herself is not the right place for her anyway. She should live un-apologetically authentically. The sooner she learns that lesson, the better off she’ll be. The girl grinned from ear to ear and started to return behind the counter. I know I’m a big dork, but I told her I felt like I needed to hug her. Her face brightened like the sun was shining directly on it and she said, “I love hugs!” I gave her a Mama Bear Hug. I told her, “Just be you. You are perfect and wonderful.”

There was a woman who was probably in her 70’s who was listening to our conversation. The woman looked at me after I hugged the barista, and smiled knowingly. She said, “I second your advice. There is too much toxicity in the world. You have to limit the people in your life who are toxic and just be you.” I agreed with her. The three of us girls were on the same page. I told the older woman that I thought she needed a hug too, and asked if that would be ok. Her beautiful face crinkled with joy and she opened her arms to me. As I hugged her, she whispered in my ear, “Thank you.”

Goosebumps. You never know when or where you’ll meet more of your Soul Tribe.

Here’s the honest truth, even though it sounds naïve and cliché. You have to be your true, authentic self. Stop being the person you think everyone else wants and expects you to be. Your life is about you. As soon as you realize who you are and how you want to live your life, you will be miles ahead of the game.

Knowing who you are is the first part. The second part is taking action. Figure out how to be your true self. When you do this, you will find peace and happiness and a serene sense of strength that will always be there to comfort you. It’s something you can always count on.

I know it’s hard when other people don’t accept you. I know it’s painful. Trust me, I’ve been there. But guess what? Those people may never change; they may never accept you for being you. And that’s not actually about you. It’s actually about them and the work they need to do in their lives. All you can do is show up authentically in the world. You can’t control other people’s reactions to you living authentically. Other people’s opinions of you are actually none of your business. So don’t get caught up in all that. Don’t let that baggage weigh you down. Not your problem.

You do you. That’s all you need to worry about. Be a good, kind person. Learn who you want to be. Listen to the whispers of your heart, and pay attention when you hear the secrets about how you should be living your life. Don’t be afraid of others not accepting you. It might happen. But ultimately, you will find happiness and fulfillment living your truth. The sooner you do that, the better life will feel.

As soon as you are living your authentic life, you’ll find your Tribe. That’s what happened to me. As soon as I stopped living scared (of what people would think of me, of how others would judge me, of whether others would like me…), I was able to live free and live happy. People can sense that in you, people are drawn to that. I know you’re worried you might be turned down for a job if they see the Real You, or your parents might not accept your choices, or your friends might un-friend you. But in reality, you will draw all the right people to you. Trust the process.

Be brave. Live your truth. You were made perfect and beautiful and resilient. You were made the way you are for a reason. It’s your responsibility to live fully. You could be just a choice or two away from living your bliss.

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