This was sage advice from one of the speakers at the conference I attended in Toronto last week. The same speaker added, “we have to always be the same person, regardless of where we travel and who we meet.”
So, you can imagine my surprise when another speaker at a second conference I attended said that when he moved from one place to another, he used it as an opportunity to reinvent himself. He even went so far as to change his name in his quest for reinvention.
In the first instance, I looked up from my notebook and nodded vigorously in agreement. I live and breathe by authenticity – I intentionally illustrate that I am the same person, with the same values and belief system always. When the other keynote speaker spoke about using change as an opportunity to become someone else, I was confused, but continued to listen, hoping that I would get the message he was sharing with the audience.
I finally figured out where he was going when he said that reinvention is, sometimes, just, “playing a larger version of yourself,” and that your beliefs ultimately dictate your action.
When he reinvented himself and changed his name, he didn’t change his core beliefs, he merely changed how he packaged himself for the world. He changed the tone of his voice so that he was taken more seriously. He changed the volume of his voice so that he was heard. He gave possibility the benefit of the doubt and as a result, he changed the lens through which he saw himself.
Where am I going with this? Well, so many of us live a smaller version of ourselves in order to fit into the community, the workplace, and even our family dynamic. We allow fear to dictate how we live our lives. We live this small version of ourselves because we are afraid of how our individual worlds may react.
Women are more likely to shrink themselves down into an acceptable package. We have been told that when we are loud that we can appear aggressive. We have been told when we are forceful with our opinions that we intimidate. We have been told to smile because we are“so much prettier” when we do.
If fear keeps us from living large, then what are we afraid of? For many of us, the fear is laziness wrapped up in a big bow. Asserting ourselves can be hard work. Allowing ourselves to be seen clearly can be terrifying. Speaking up can be exhausting.
It is much easier to live this teeny, weeny version of ourselves because the alternative takes effort.
At what age do we decide we are going to remain this bite-sized version of who we are? Is it 30, 40, or is it 50? In my opinion, we’re never too old to change, never too old to learn. We’re never too old to become the person that has hidden inside.
Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can follow her on twitter @judylaine