Happiness Project Reflection 5: Showing Up as Yourself is Hard

be-yourself_lores

Hello!

Today’s post is a little bit related to my last post about being successful with your goals.  I talked about the importance of measuring your success by your actions rather than counting how many followers or “likes” you get on social media.

So how can you be “yourself” on social media and other platforms when you feel insecure?   What’s so special about me?

My life is pretty uneventful.  I have a day job at a non-profit organization.  I do art when I’m not at my day job.  I live with my nerdy husband, one cat, and two budgie parakeets.  I’m an introvert and a home body.  I love good sci-fi shows on Netflix.  I crochet.  I don’t drink or go dancing.   I drive a 2000 Honda Civic.  Quality alone time is pure gold.  My life does not exactly scream glamour.

I’m also a practical person.  Naturally, I see flaws and tend to be critical.  It sometimes gets in a way of me being a kind/compassionate/thoughtful person I’d like to be.  Shall I say I tend to be “glass-half-empty” kind of a person?  It is more so when I’m feeling stressed.

As for my art, I like to make simple, child-like drawings.   I didn’t go to art school.  I feel insecure about it when I see other people’s works that are more dignified or meticulous.

If you ask me what I think of myself on a really bad day, my answer would be something like this: My life is boring.  I’m a boring person.  I’m anti-social and critical.  And I draw like a kid, so I’m not a real artist.

Imagine if I had a 365 Day Unhappiness Project and drew about things that sucked every day for 365 days.  What would that look like?  I would probably find an audience for it, but what impact would it have on me or people who followed my work?  Not a very happy one I imagine.

Aren’t you glad I chose happiness instead?

Working on the 365 Day Happiness Project was a good mental training.  To find my material, I was scanning for things that made me happy no matter how small it was.  Yes I still complained and whined about things that didn’t go well, but I had to acknowledge that at least one thing made me happy every day and project it onto the world.  My glass was a little fuller.

Because I wasn’t winning a lottery or saving puppies from wild fire every day (or ever), I drew about small happiness for 365 days.

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When I think about the heroes I follow, they all have something in common.  They work hard to produce very high quality work and also admit having flaws and struggles.  And they work through their struggles and share their growth process with others.  Their courage and willingness to be vulnerable inspire me to no end.

I connect with their work because I feel connected to who they are.  Although my art career is nowhere near theirs, I can relate to their struggles.  To me, they are real people just like you and me.  I want people to feel like they have the connection to real me, too.

So how do you project your authentic self to the world in a way that’s inspiring to others?

First, you want to stop the tape that plays negative messages in your head.  I’m not talking about the constructive criticisms you receive from people you trust because it’s important to listen to them (especially if the same theme comes up repeatedly) and improve upon them.  I’m talking about the negative things you tell yourself that are only true in your head.

And try to find ways to re-frame it in a more compassionate way.  For example, I could change my unhelpful internal messages to more positive ones:

  • My life is boring. –> My life is stable and peaceful.  I work hard to maintain the stability and take calculated risks.  I’m surrounded by caring and responsible people.
  • I’m anti-social. –> I love being an introvert.  I love people and seek deep connection and engagement.  I’m creative and imaginative.  I’m emotionally independent.
  • I’m critical. –>  I pay attention to details.  I’m analytical and notice ways to improve things.
  • My drawings look like kids’ art. –> Kids are the most creative people on earth.  I’m glad I haven’t lost touch with the innate creativity and sense of wonder.
  • I’m not a real artist. –> I express myself through drawings and paintings.  That makes me an artist.  People appreciate what I create and pay me to create art that is uniquely me.  I’m providing value through my art.  I love being an artist!

Isn’t it a lot nicer?

There is absolutely no benefits to being mean to yourself.  Who you are and who you want to be are usually not that far apart.  They might just be wearing a different outfit, or your lenses may be a bit out of focus.

To be able to show up as yourself and inspire others, you first need to be OK with who you are.  Push the pause button when you catch yourself putting yourself down.  Replace those unhelpful messages with something more loving.  It’s a skill, and you will get better at it as you practice.  Fake it till you believe it.  Go at your own pace.

I know this is going to be a life-long work for me.  Be vulnerable. Be real.  Be graceful with my flaws.

Thank you for reading!  Have a good week, friends 🙂

xoxo Yuko

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7 thoughts on “Happiness Project Reflection 5: Showing Up as Yourself is Hard

  1. I love reading this post! Especially because I feel like I can relate to it so much… in the sense of comparing myself with others, and also the “negative” tape that runs through my head. Thank you for sharing part of you with us. 🙂 It’s always so inspirational to see your work and read your blog.

    1. aw, thank you for your sweet words. I’m so glad to hear my blog is relatable and helpful 🙂 It takes time and practice to get over the negative voice in your head…we all do this! keep in touch ❤

  2. Yuko ~ keep doing what your doing…sharing your world & inspiring, creating, and drawing ‘small happiness’ that make life so rich. Thank you.

  3. Been meaning to comment for a while. I LOVE this post series you are doing. I’m reading every week and wanted you to know that it’s really inspiring me for my own “happiness” project (even though I’m behind on it, ha!). Keep up the awesome work 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Michelle! I really appreciate it 🙂 I’m happy my blog is inspiring you to do your own happiness project. Keep me posted! ❤

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