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Live Your Life for You: 5 Benefits of Embracing Who You Really Are

Be Yourself

“Live your life for you, not for anyone else. Don’t let the fear of being judged, rejected or disliked stop you from being yourself.” ~Sonya Parker

I have struggled with my different-ness since I was young. I grew up trying to change the things that made me different in order to fit in. At home, my parents were doing their best to raise three young children, which I can imagine would’ve been very hard.

I can still remember the first time I asked myself, “What is wrong with me?” I loved to take my time and have everything neat and tidy; my family, on the other hand, was the complete opposite.

Being neat and tidy reflected in the way I would dress myself. One morning, when I was getting ready for my first day of school, my parents gave me socks to wear that didn’t match. I got very upset, and although they tried to understand what the problem was, they couldn’t help but be frustrated with me, as I was making the morning more difficult.

We were also running late. I wanted to take my time and not be hurried. This caused us to run even later and made my parents even more stressed. I felt so guilty to have made them feel like this. 

I wanted to belong and feel loved by them, so I tried my hardest to change the things about me that seemed to cause them stress.

Trying to change these things that were a big part of who I was created inner conflict, and I would have big tantrums as a result. This would cause my parents stress as well, so eventually I stopped expressing my feelings.

I became ashamed of the things that made me different. I was shy. I loved lots of time on my own. I had dark skin.

I wanted to be accepted to avoid judgment and rejection. During school, other kids teased me for not having many friends. I felt so hurt and alone that I started a constant battle within myself to change my different-ness.

I forced myself to be more social. I searched for ways to change the color of my skin. I stopped giving myself the alone time I wanted. I stopped expressing how I was feeling.

This went on for the next twenty years. Since I spent my whole life trying to fit in, I never really got to know my true self. It was incredibly exhausting and I was very unhappy.

It took having kids to wake me up. The love I had for my two boys gave me the drive to search for another way to live.

I wanted my boys to love and accept themselves for who they were, differences and all, but how was I to teach them if I didn't even know how? I needed to be the example.

I finally discovered some things that empowered me to embrace my differences. I was amazed at the life changing effect it had on me. 

When you embrace who you are:

1. You stop living in fear.

The choices I make in life are no longer dependent on what other people will think, whether I will be judged, disliked, or rejected. I just focus on being me.

In the past, I feared what people would think of me for choosing to have a few close friends instead of a huge social circle and spending a lot of time on my own. Now that I accept that this is me, I feel a sense of freedom.

Trying to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Being your true self is a courageous thing to do in a world that is constantly trying to change you. When you realize that living the life you want is more important than pleasing other people, suddenly you feel free.

2. You form deeper, more connected relationships.

In the past, I've had my fair share of not-so-good relationships. People would connect to the fake me, so they were never genuine relationships.

I was able to sift through my relationships by loving my differences and being myself. This allowed the right people to come into my life who loved the real me. My relationships are now all fulfilling and genuine.

If you want people to accept you for who you are, you first have to show them who that is.

3. You treat yourself more kindly.

I saw myself as weird so I would constantly put myself down and beat myself up. The negative self-talk was painful.

In accepting my “weirdness,” I went from telling myself, “Because of my differences, I’m worthless and no one will ever love me,” to “I have to be true to myself. The people who really matter will accept me for who I am.”

It was so liberating, I started to feel the happiest I've ever felt.

4. You’re better able to find your passion.

When hiding my true self, I could never know my strengths. I'm a compassionate person, which makes me good at helping people. I found that this is what I love to do and it's my passion.

After learning this about myself, I was able to offer my friends and family advice when they needed help. I branched out and started my own blog, which is my main creative outlet where I can combine my passion for writing and helping people.

Once you allow yourself to be who you are, you’re free to find what you’re good at and what you love to do.

5. You start appreciating yourself.

When you truly embrace your differences, you begin to find reasons to appreciate them. I’ve always been ashamed of my introverted nature, thinking it was a weakness. Only recently have I started to embrace it. I now appreciate that it allows me to enjoy time on my own, which is where I’m the most creative.

I’ve finally discovered my strengths and weaknesses. I own them and I am grateful for them both because they make me who I am.

When you start seeing your “weaknesses” as potential strengths, you develop a whole new sense of appreciation for yourself.

I hope these lessons can help you learn to embrace your differences without having to become a parent to do it—and if you are already a parent, then I hope this can inspire you so you too can pass on self-acceptance to your children.

Photo by Jesus Solana

About Tanya Camilleri

Over the past few years, Tanya has slowly discovered her true self and started focusing on what really matters in life. She’s not perfect, and she knows it’s easy to forget and get caught in the negative self-talk. She loves ideas and reminders that help her true self shine. Visit her at inthesoulshine.com.

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  • Jester2012

    Reading this was a good way to start my day. Thank you for the great article!

  • sid.

    I find olive complexion attractive; sometimes it is where you are, not what you are. Two phrases come to mind 1) if you don’t want to get bit, stop swimming in the shark tank & 2) eff them if they cant take a joke.

  • Deborah Shelby

    Tanya, I love your wonderful article! I understand where you’re coming from. I don’t think I learned to be my true self till I was well into my forties. I always tried to be what my parents and then my husband wanted me to be instead of the girl/woman who was lost inside.

  • Josh

    ‘When hiding my true self, I could never know my strengths’ Thanks for this nugget of wisdom 🙂

  • Your story touched my heart. It’s amazing what kids will do to change you. I don’t have kids myself, but I babysit. Those little guys have big souls that always seem to do something for me- a reminder that you need to love yourself just as much as they do. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Aisha

    Thank you Tanya for sharing your story:-) I too am an introvert and grew up feeling like I was weird, do to being in a very outspoken family. Also being a Black girl strugglef with having brown skin. Through years of therapy I have come to accept I am ok. As a brown short Black woman who is shy,kind,compassionate and is allowed to be me. There is no weirdness being me!

  • Tan

    You’re very welcome 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  • Tan

    I remember always trying to change the colour of my skin but now I feel blessed to have my olive complexion. You’re totally right, it’s where you are, not what you are. Great phrases 🙂

  • Tan

    That was exactly me! You definitely understand where I’m coming from. It feels like such a big weight has lifted once you let go of what people what you to be and just be yourself. I’m so glad you no longer lost and have become the woman you want to be. So beautiful 🙂

  • Tan

    Love this! 🙂

  • Tan

    Looking back it is amazing the lengths I went to, to try and be accepted. I feel so blessed to have gone through this so I can teach my boys how important self acceptance is. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and taking the time to read 🙂

  • Tan

    Wow. So powerful! It sounds like we had similar struggles. Therapy also taught me self acceptance. It was so horrible growing as an introvert. Now I don’t see it as weird at all, I actually love it. I’m also shy, kind & compassionate. It was lovely to hear your story, Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 X

  • Thanks Tanya for this! Like you and Aisha, There are times when I feel like I “need” to be more outgoing. But I’m learning to accept myself as I am and you’re right once we do, that’s when we are able to see our potential 🙂

  • Tan

    You’re very welcome! Thanks so much for reading. I’m the same! I sometimes feel the need to be more outgoing as well and I still have to remind myself regularly that it’s ok to be me. You’re exactly right, self acceptance allows us to see our true potential! Thank you for your beautiful words 🙂

  • Talya Price

    I completely understand where you are coming from.

  • Talya Price

    This was a very good read. I shared this article with my friends. I think we have all gone through something similar. All we can be is ourselves. It took me being alone to finally love myself 100%. And when I stop caring what other people thought of me, great things happened in my life. Thank you for this.

  • Tan

    That is so true! All we can do is be ourselves & love who we truly are despite of what people think. Life seems to just fall into place. What courage you have to live this way. Thank you for being so brave 🙂

  • John

    Thank you Tanya and Aisha so so much! I too am shy and quiet and I constantly struggle with that fact daily, especially being in a family full of sociable and extroverted people who sometimes demand I be like them. I have disliked myself for so long, and perhaps subconsciously still do, trying so hard for so long to change myself and that has made me so unhappy with myself.
    I have also been kind of struggling with therapy recently but you guys through your stories and advice have kind of steered me back onto the right track by allowing me to revisit the fact of accepting myself which I have somehow forgotten along the way. I realise more clearly than ever now that not only do I not have to feel weird in my skin, I can actually celebrate my personality for who I am and be comfortable in it because it makes me the unique precious individual I am!
    You guys have given me hope and faith that I can pull through and hopefully overcome my obstacles like you guys!

  • Tan

    I, too struggle daily with my introverted nature. I’m having to constantly remind myself ‘it’s ok to be me’. In the past my family and friends would always make me feel like I needed to be more extroverted. After many years I finally built up the courage to tell them ‘this is me, this is who I am’. The people who really loved and cared for me accepted me for who I really am. I was surprised how well they took it & most of my family and friends still love me just as much. For me, talking to someone such as a therapist really helped. Accepting & celebrating who I really am has transformed my life. Keep your faith alive, take small steps & don’t give up, you will over come those obstacles!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. Like the points you made here.

  • Tan

    You’re very welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read 🙂

  • Kiniko

    I have been struggling a great deal with understanding that it’s okay to not be social and accepting that I am this way. It’s so great to come across this article, because most people would tell me to be more social and to put myself out there. Thank you for your words. I needed them.

  • Jenna

    Thank you Tanya! It was as though I was reading my story in your words… I’m on the same journey, to find my true self, in a world that is trying to constantly change me. I was lucky to come from an introverted family but always felt different than the outside world! There are lots of people like us I believe. Will definitely check out your blog, your real self is perfect in all it’s authentic beauty Tanya! 🙂

  • Tan

    It’s a struggle living in a culture where extroversion is the ideal. The world needs introverts, in fact introverts make up some of the greatest leaders and most creative people. When you accept who you are & look after yourself, you realise your strengths and can you them to do amazing things. Thank you for your comment 🙂

  • Tan

    You’re welcome Jenna! Our journey’s are very similar. I think it’s about 1 in 3 people are introverts so you’r right, there are many others out there. Some of the greatest leaders were introverts, we are also very creative, the world needs us. There are also many other strengths. When ever I feel ‘weird’ I just remember my strengths and I’m back to loving who I am. Thank you so much for your beautiful words Jenna. Means so much X

  • Tyriq

    this is me 100%. I like what you said about everything, when something sounds and feels like me I smile and I smiled so much during this. Its funny because I’m still in college and struggling with fitting in to help me rank up within ROTC because of my introversion my peer evals are low but when people really get to know me its a different story but overall that’s not enough, through the military its all about who you know and how people perceive you and I suck at that. Being myself will cause a lot of controversy but Its worth it because its my life and I want it to be enjoyable.

  • Tan

    It really is the best feeling to know you’re not alone! I’m smiling right now reading your comment 🙂 Wow. What powerful words you wrote there. You’re right, being yourself does cause controversy but it totally is worth it. For me there is no other option, being myself is we’re I’ve found true happiness. Yeah it comes with a bit of struggle but I’d rather this than being extremely unhappy trying to hide who I am. Thanks so much for your comment and having the courage to be who you are. So inspiring!

  • Lucy

    I’m an introvert and have been through the same journey. I still have moments of self-doubt but not the cloud that was hanging over me before. I appreciate that my introversion makes me a very reflective person. It’s remarkably freeing. I had no idea that self-doubts occupied so many of my thoughts until I let go. I’m now able to cope better with the stresses of life, basically because I’m not in a constant battle against myself. I don’t try hard with people who don’t accept me. I am who I am.

  • Lucy

    Another thing I would say about not doubting myself, is that I feel more ‘awake’ to the world. I don’t know if that makes sense but what I mean is that I am more open to experience happiness.I feel more ‘in the moment’ than ever before.

  • babak

    I can’t read English. But I guess it’s beautiful article.

  • Victoria

    I have only just come across this but it spoke directly to my heart and my entire being. I decided at the start of the year to embrace myself, my quietness and introversion as always felt I had to be someone else in order to fit in. But, I’ve realised that I don’t need to ‘fit in’, that the people who truly care for me will do so whoever I am. I am a little weird, very creative, shy, and I struggle with acceptance and need lots of reassurance, but in accepting and trusting myself and those little quirks, it allows me to shine to those who take the time to see it. I’ve been to told to ‘toughen up’ and have over heard things said about me never being able to achieve, but I need to rise above it and embrace the real me. Your article gives me such insight and inspiration to do that, so thank you in helping to give me the confidence to be me.

  • Sheryl

    Thanks Tanya for sharing you story. As a child I too was painfully shy, only growing out of it for professional reasons. Now that I work primarily from home I’ve noticed that I’ve become more introverted. Maybe we simply slip in and out of our comfort zone as need throughout our life as situations dictate.

  • Joy Stephanie

    Thank you so much for posting this article I enjoyed it a lot. I can relate to myself! I realized that I need to embrace myself to find happiness. I felt ashamed of being different. I wear hearing aids and have disability. I have some sort of conditions and I beat myself up for every little things. I feel like I have to changed because that’s what I think so others can accept me and they don’t get upset at me. I want to work on that.

  • Lahdeedah

    Hi Tanya, I enjoyed your article because it speaks to things I am figuring out now. Btw, are you an INFJ (in meyers briggs MBTI speak?) Because I am an INFJ and this article sounds like it was written in a voice similar to mine 🙂

    BTW, this is a big question – how do you know what your passion is versus what you seek as a refuge as a way to avoid emotional stress and perhaps for ego boosts? i.e. is making art a passion or is it just a way to avoid emotional and life stress and pad one’s ego…or can it be both? That is what i am trying to figure out. I know my art has touched people in the past, and they have bought it from me for $$. I fight to remain authentic to my own voice without alienating my audience on one end or compromising my artistic integrity on the other end. Maybe that is why art is my passion…because it does provide me with a refuge, and a voice when I feel voiceless, and at the same time I feel like it is a voice that others can identify with and that is why they buy my work. And that is the biggest validation.

    I think i have a problem with accepting praise or success. Or maybe I am afraid of failure so much that I am afraid to even make a big splash, or really ‘go for it’. I know I have a problem with caring about what people see me as, what they think of me, who they think I am. Or that they think I am ‘faking it’. Or looking for compliments. I guess I just need to get over that!

  • Lahdeedah

    Yes, I realize I need to be me for me. Not for parents or husband or friends, etc. It is a daily exercise.

  • Merita Oh

    This blog post couldn’t be more relatable