“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” ~Jim Morrison
When I left my full-time position at an ad agency and ventured out on my own, I had a clear goal in mind—to connect with likeminded people who align with my highest good. As far as how I was going to do that, I had little clue.
My life was full of relationships built from forced, sometimes toxic circumstances where we found each other out of need or convenience. I am grateful for each of those people because they were there when I needed them most, but there was always a part of me that felt unknown or misunderstood. They did not speak my language.
After a couple decades of those experiences, it became natural to think that no one understood who I was, and no one ever would.
Being an idealist, I’ve always believed in true heart-to-heart connections with other human beings as the most fundamental component of strong relationships, above cultural backgrounds, titles, properties, or romance.
Most of the people around me, however, seem to pursue relationships to either avoid being alone or to create financial security, without the desire to form a deeper connection with others. Perhaps they don’t believe in the type of connection I know exists and think of it as a fantasy. In the past, I was often criticized as being naive and impractical.
My idealistic nature often shows up in work environments, too, unguarded and without an agenda, while I watch others focus only on their own goals.
I’ve always cared about coworkers as well as clients, and I’ve been enthusiastic about creating great designs to help them succeed. Those efforts were often seen as an agenda to get promoted, even perceived as a threat at times by supervisors fearing I was after their job. So, I finally gave into conformity and kept these idealisms to myself and pretended I had the same drives as everyone else.
I wanted to be perceived as professional, to have friends, and to live every day drama-free, so I showed the world just enough of me in order to fit in comfortably.
It is no wonder, in hindsight, I never met anyone who truly got me, because no one really knew about the existence of that part of me. And if I ever mustered enough courage to share those deep thoughts and visions, the slightest pause in our conversation or a split-second blank stare would scare me back into my shell all over again.
Interestingly enough, after my “release” into the ocean (as I like to call it) from the corporate pond, and since taking full advantage of my freedom to work with whomever I choose, I find myself attracting more and more likeminded people. Whenever I marvel at the miraculous synchronicities, I begin to realize more and more why that is…
I unknowingly started to come out of my shell and show the world all that I am.
I was no longer met with judging eyes, passive-aggressive statements, and indirect criticisms that conditioned me to refrain from expressing myself in ways that I wanted to. Without having to deal with constant judgment and negativity, I naturally opened up and let my walls down.
I spent the three-month grace period I granted myself following the leave nurturing feelings of self-appreciation and comfort and self-reflecting. What kind of relationships did I want moving forward? And what type of professional relationships would I want to build for my long-term success? The answer from deep within brought tears to my eyes—whatever business endeavors awaited, I always wanted to be as happy as I was right then.
This morning, on an introductory Zoom call with a client who came to us for marketing and PR services, I had déja vu listening to her echoing my own recent experiences.
She is a veteran in her industry, well-educated across all subjects, has a rich cultural background, and is already a highly successful entrepreneur; yet she expressed discomfort in telling her personal story because she felt she would be seen as weird and unrelatable, at the same time wondering how her unique perspective and her desire to better the world could come across to the right clients.
I immediately felt my pulse a little stronger, blood flowing, and wasted no time in sharing what I had just gone through.
I gave her the following advice in hopes she would be encouraged to share all that she is with the world and build the clientele she truly desires. I got my confirmation immediately when her eyes lit up and her wonderfully mischievous childhood stories began to flow out naturally and comfortably… (Joy!)
Your “weirdness” is your uniqueness.
Since I’ve allowed myself to be more authentic, I’ve crossed paths with many people who share the same fear of being seen as “weird.”
Many of us carry this heavy weight, the shame we felt perhaps from a young age of being judged, reprimanded, or made fun of, just for being ourselves. We then spent decades trying to fit in, prove we were “normal” and worthy of love and respect. We diminished all the amazing qualities that make up exactly who we are as unique individuals.
If you ever feel the need to hide your history, struggles, or emotions to appear “normal” to the rest of the world, consider this: You are actually depriving the world of getting to know you.
What if the world needs your unique personality? What if the world is waiting to hear your personal story? Every single one of your qualities, even those some may consider “weird,” is a contribution to who you have become and what you have to offer the world.
If you have read this far, you most likely have a desire to be known, to be acknowledged, and you are likely already sharing pieces of yourself with others, at least, on a surface level. I encourage you to gently peel off another layer and share a deeper part of yourself. Because not doing so will keep you wondering and feeling caged.
Like-minded people are trying to find you, too.
Finding people who click with you can seem like a challenge, even if you lead a dynamic and interesting life and/or have a rich inner world.
As I get older, I value deep connections more and more because I enjoy getting into a state of flow over effortless, meaningful conversations. I spent many frustrating years trying to figure out how exactly to meet the right kind of people, but it had never occurred to me they were looking for me, too. And I hadn’t made it easy for them to connect with me.
When I met new people, I stuck with superficial conversations because, again, I didn’t want to be perceived as “weird” and be rejected. When I formed a friendship, I tried to maintain it the same way I had earned it, by not being who I truly am. Needless to say, those relationships were unfulfilling and short-lived.
Sharing who you are authentically in each present moment, not only helps connect you to those similar to you but also filters the relationships that are incompatible from the get-go. By bringing your inner world to light, you acknowledge your own uniqueness and allow others to fully see you, thereby making a connection with you.
The more you let other people in, the deeper the connections you will form.
The levels of connection you can create with another person can be exhilarating but also a little intimidating. Relationships can form from a fun-loving surface level interaction into something that touches the most intimate parts of your souls. But you have to be willing to risk discomfort and rejection in order to find the right people.
If you are tired of superficial relationships that bear little fulfillment and want deeper connections you can build on, then your only option is to be brave, open up about your inner world, and let other people in.
How deep the connections are will depend on how vulnerable you allow yourself to become and whether or not others reciprocate. Not everyone will, and that’s okay. It’s worth opening up to people who’ll reject you to find the one who won’t.
Conversely, you need to be prepared to reciprocate just the same when someone else trusts you enough to show you their inner world. While this may take some courage to build up to, it’s also well worth the risk.