This is second week of a month-long promotion for Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself, a book about taming your inner critic that features 40 stories from Tiny Buddha contributors.
Over the next month, you’ll have a chance to meet some of them through daily interviews here on the blog.
Today’s featured contributor is education technician Charlie Tranchemontagne.
His contribution for the book focuses on taking off our masks so we can be more authentic in our relationships.
A little more about Charlie…
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your self-love journey.
My self-love journey didn’t really start until age 25; it was then I chose to start loving myself by throwing myself out of an airplane (in ﬂight, of course)! Skydiving was my way of letting go and trusting that if I jumped, a new way of living would open up to me.
This experience was the ﬁrst time ever that I felt truly at peace with myself. A deep inner pain from past misdeeds drove me to this threshold. I had tried for years to bury my emotional discomfort by wearing many masks; weightlifter, successful businessman, and being Mr. Perfect, but was unable to keep my “true self” from surfacing.
After skydiving, I experienced a new feeling of self-love that set me on a path of personal self-discovery. Prior to my awakening, I had been caught in a world of self-deception that I was unable to break free from. It was by truly letting go that I was set free, and a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me.
2. Have you ever felt there’s “something wrong with you”? If so, why, and what’s helped you change your perception?
Yes, I have felt at times that maybe I am broken beyond repair. Early in my journeying, I beat myself up about mistakes I made in my past: juvenile delinquent behaviors, alcohol, and drug use.
These types of early behaviors caused me to feel like I was a fraud as I entered into adulthood. I didn’t think I deserved to be given a second go at life. Practicing self-forgiveness helps me a lot; it is something I have to do constantly.
3. Have you ever thought something was a ﬂaw only to realize that other people actually appreciate that about you? What was the “ﬂaw”?
Being a skinny kid growing up, I thought my body was ﬂawed. As a youth, I got lots of attention for being “cute,” even nominated “best looking” in high school, but I never felt comfortable in my skin.
It took me years of lifting weights and trying to be someone I wasn’t to realize that there was nothing wrong with my body.
I realized through weightlifting that it wasn’t my outer appearance that gave me true conﬁdence; because even after I transformed myself from a skinny kid to a weightlifter, I still lacked inner conﬁdence.
It was only when I started doing work on the “inside” that my self-esteem and conﬁdence grew.
4. What was your biggest mistake (that you’re willing to share), and what helped you forgive yourself?
Not asking for help as a child, when at age 9, I started traveling down a destructive path of juvenile delinquency. I was raised in a good home, with good parents, but I was misled by outside inﬂuences that pulled me away from the people that truly loved me.
I was too scared to ask for help—not enough self-esteem, self-conﬁdence, or simply courage to overcome such big obstacles for a child.
Unfortunately, I stayed caught in this web of lies into my early adulthood. What helped me to forgive myself was my choice to face my past and want to move beyond it. Regardless of the work that I have put into forgiving myself, my path to self-discovery is ongoing. I still consider myself a work in progress!
5. Complete this sentence: When other people don’t like me, I…
…don’t take it personally. I remind myself that if I am staying true to who I am, then I cannot control what others might think about me. I guess I have to be somewhat selﬁsh, but in a healthy way.
6. What are some areas in your life where you’ve compared yourself to other people, and what’s helped you let go of these comparisons?
Body image; I’ve learned to focus on myself and love what I got. Success, the American Dream; I’ve decided to stop buying into it and simplify my life.
7. What’s one thing you would tell your younger self about looking to other people to complete you?
It’s not true. Jerry Maguire’s famous line, “You complete me,” is Hollywood at it’s best! I would tell my younger self that before you can love another you must be able to love yourself and that love goes beyond looks and emotions.
8. Have you ever felt afraid to show people your “real” self? Why—and what’s helped you move beyond that?
Absolutely! After more than twenty years traveling the road of self-discovery, I wrote a post for Tiny Buddha about removing masks (which is featured in this book). For me, writing this post was my way of stepping outside of my comfort zone and sharing myself with others in a way that quite honestly scared
I have been wanting to reach out to others for sometime, and thought that by sharing my writing, I may be able to help one person move further along their road to self-discovery.
9. What are the top three things you personally need to do to take good of yourself, mentally and emotionally?
- Quiet time in the morning
- Exercise and activity
- Simplifying my life (holding on loosely) and carrying a light load
10. What’s something you do regularly that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in the world?
Connect with people of all ages. I work with children in an elementary school. My role is to support students who are struggling at school by mentoring them and helping them to stay connected to the school, despite the hardships they may be facing.
Working with youth in a positive way is very meaningful for me because this is the age when I went astray. My hope would be that I could help kids to avoid the pitfalls that I fell into as a youth.
*Note: I edited this post to remove info about the pre-order promotion, which ended on October 8, 2013. You can learn more about Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself here.