Freedom versus Safety

Jenn, my 21-year old niece, is visiting me this week. Between going to the movies, visiting the natural science museum, shopping and eating at some locally owned restaurants, we decided it was time to break into the world of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt. Perfect decision, as we both fell in love with the show and watched all 13 episodes in two days.

Kimmy and three other women were abducted and forced to live underground for 15 years. In the first episode, they are found and face the challenge of returning home.

Kimmy emerges from the bunker unfamiliar with social roles and cultural rules. At the same time, she doesn’t care much about fitting in. After living in a bunker for 15 years, not only is Kimmy determined to get her life back, she wants to be free.

Of all the characters in this series, Kimmy is the one who is already free: she’s free authenticof all the sticky stuff we get caught in from the people, places and things we spend our lives running towards or running away from. She has no assumptions or expectations. She doesn’t know about the unspoken rules that keep women in their place. As a result she doesn’t know about censoring herself. Not only is she unbreakable – she’s authentic. She doesn’t wear a mask and she doesn’t have a public persona: she’s just herself.

Unlike most of us, Kimmy doesn’t struggle with being authentic. We find being authentic difficult because it means we have to be open and truthful about who we really are. We’re not seeking freedom; we’re seeking safety.

Authenticity means we have to be conscious of our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and fears, and risk the disapproval of others when pursuing our dreams and passions. But most of all, being more authentic means being more vulnerable. And when we feel vulnerable, we can experience moments of doubt about what others will think of us. No one wants to feels like an outsider or feel like they fail to measure up to those around them.

We hide because to be authentic means we risk showing our:

  • Failures and disappointments
  • Guilt and shame
  • Fears and insecurities
  • Weaknesses and embarrassments
  • Resentments and jealousies

Some people, especially women, have been conditioned to hide their good points, accomplishments and success as well.

How To Be More Authentic

As our newly discovered heroine Kimmy explains, living from the outside-in doesn’t work. You have to live from the inside-out in order to be:

  • More confident in yourself
  • More willing to pursue your passions
  • Free of other people’s opinions
  • More connected with yourself and with others
  • More peaceful

How can you embark on the journey back to your authentic self? Here are some tips:

  • Cultivate self-awareness about when you are being authentic and when you are not.
  • Allow that self-awareness to extend to knowing your values, talents and imperfections.
  • Be honest about what you are tolerating: the relationships, jobs, clutter, financial chaos, etc. that block you from being authentic.

Find the unbreakable you.

 You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.  John Mason

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