In You-Do-You Veritas: Live the Freedom of a Happy Authentic Life
“You do you,” casually dropped my daughter before saying goodbye on her way out to school, her teen catchphrase of the moment. I had just mentioned that, if it were me, I’d wear a hat on that deceiving winter day, the sunny type that conceals an unassuming frigid draft. I couldn’t help but chuckle in appreciation of her boundaries. As she closed the door with a thump behind her, I thought, you go, girl. You do you, too. As in, you keep bringing your full self and live a happy authentic life.
Unlike her, I discovered the freedom of this “doing me” superpower later in life, when I opened up with my writing last year and launched this writer’s blog. Until then, despite my own teen wish of one day becoming a freelance writer, I hadn’t shown my work to anyone.
I remember my first diary, about an inch thick with a green satin cover, ornate Asian foil drawings, rounded corners and a red bookmark. I purchased it myself when I was eleven, in fifth grade, from a stationery store in Montreal where I grew up. I poured my world into it and, by the time I reached my mid-teen years, was dreaming of a life among ribbons of words and streams of phrases.
Time will help dig deeper to uncover why that didn’t happen, but I think it revolved around a fear of rejection — mixed in with some other people’s fears. As years went by, these amplified and increasingly shrank me into wanting to blend in and hide.
And there went my dream.
While I spent a long time blaming others, seeing them as the reason I didn’t pursue writing, I understand today that I was in my own way. Sure, I experienced rejection as a kid and other hurdles throughout life. In the end, however, the decision remained up to me. I was in control of whether to let these deterrents obstruct my path.
Luckily, it seems what I wanted was more powerful than what I feared. And the courage to be true to myself gifted me with a profound joy: that of the personal freedom that comes with the simplicity of living an authentic life, and, now, the desire for more.
What are these voices that keep us from being true to ourselves, from rising to whom we’re meant to be?
Maybe they sound like the hint of a hat to a teen girl on a cold morning.
Similar to the tree I saw on a hike the other day, standing high and tall yet nearly dead from a thick vine wrapped around its trunk all the way to the top, some of us let those voices suffocate our soul and keep us from blooming into whom we’re destined to be.
It’s easier to find the gifts we are meant to bring forth when we feel accepted, and maybe that acceptance needs to come from ourselves first. The pursuit of an authentic life weaves into that.
What is an authentic life?
Living authentically, to me, implies seeking and owning the truth about me so I can live in alignment with my values, beliefs and passions. It means looking at myself with honesty and curiosity, and adjusting my life in accordance with what I find along the way.
In doing so, I need to accept what I find or, at least, accept that’s how it is at the moment. If I don’t, I hide it like I would dust under the rug. Being true to myself invites me to look at both gifts and dust. Then I can choose to either live with it or change it and, either way, assume it. Living an authentic life leads me onto a road of learning and improvement. Which I can do at my own pace, in a way that is true to me.
In that sense, an authentic life keeps me in a space of acceptance and inclusion. Recognizing my unique gifts invites me to look for and celebrate others’ as well. And acknowledging the dust reminds me that it collects in every house, on every path: it becomes a commonality I can more easily dismiss and, in doing so, enables me to discover more gifts. In myself, in others.
Living an authentic life brings a desire to maximize my potential, follow my destiny and encourage others to do the same. It’s a personal choice about truth and a journey to follow it. It’s happiness in the restfulness of being who I am, who I’m meant to be.
You do you, girl.
So you may now move aside, fears, as I’m ready to do me: a woman who writes and dreams and likes to believe in the goodness of humanity; who wears her heart on her sleeve and prefers flannel in the winter because it’s cold and that’s what’s real; who belts out Staying Alive off-key and dances in her car like no one’s watching; who changed her mind about letting her dog up on the couch and switched her word of the year three weeks into January; and whose living room (and now couch) is sometimes dusty.
And little girl, who’s not so little anymore, let me step aside more and give you the space you need to discover yourself and own your truth. You wear that hat when you feel cold, if you want. And you accept yourself and find your gifts and bring them forth to the world.
You do you and live a happy authentic life.