There is something of an art to self-expression, one that I’m still very much learning. And I don’t mean that self-expression actually has to be art. It can be anything really. But there is something of a craftsmanship, a workmanship, an art to expressing ourselves. When you learn to express yourself, it brings a liberation incomparable to anything else.
Those Pesky Labels
Maybe it’s just me, but for the longest time, I lost my pulse on my true self. I wasn’t being a total poser or anything. I still generally knew what I liked and didn’t like, and I didn’t veer so far off the path of who I really am that I was unrecognizable. But around the age of eleven or twelve, I let the world tell me who I was, and I stuck with it.
I was told I was a nerd. When you’re in sixth grade, your teachers think you’re great for making good grades but your peers, not so much. I was stuck in the “smart” box and left there to dry. I accepted it and even ran with it. It felt safe for a long time until I realized just how frustrating keeping myself locked away really was.
It took quite a few years for me to remember who I really am. Sure, I’m book smart. So are a lot of people. But I’m also bubbly, optimistic, creative, articulate, thoughtful, wise, and fun. I could go on and on, and probably never stop. Because my Creator made me ME, there aren’t enough words to describe exactly who I am. I’m not my appearance or my accomplishments or even the adjectives our world so artfully uses to pretend like we understand more than we do. I’m not even Rebecca, really. I could legally change my name today, but I’d still be me.
I’m just that, I’m me.
Funny enough, it takes a bit of practice to be who we really are. In a world that tells us to conform, we were made to stand out. Imagine what a beautiful place the world would be if we all expressed ourselves exactly as God made us to be.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
But where do we even start. On my journey to rediscovering myself and relearning to express myself, these three things have helped me the most:
1. Listen to Yourself
Sometimes expressing ourselves starts with listening to ourselves. We can’t very well express ourselves if we aren’t in tune to who we are. Be still, get in the quiet, and just listen. Don’t listen to your thoughts; Listen to your spirit. That’s where you really live. What are you saying? What do you like? Even now, close your eyes for a moment, and get out of your head and into your heart. Just sit there and listen to your inner self express yourself, your true self. It can be a little scary at first, but the more we go there, the more we find our center self to be the safest place of all.
Listening to yourself starts in the stillness, but once we get more practiced, it moves to our everyday lives. In every moment of every day, we really can be in tune to what’s going on inside of ourselves. When we are faced with something unexpected, we don’t have to be lost in what to say or do because we are practiced in listening to ourselves. We don’t have to go off what we think other people think we’re supposed to do; we really can do what we know from within us is the right thing.
2. Say What You Need to Say
Once you know what it is you really like or really want or really don’t like or don’t want through listening within, it’s time to say it. Pull up a seat to the table. You, the real you, belongs one hundred percent at this table we call life. God put you here at this exact place and time to contribute. Value yourself enough to speak what’s on your heart.
One of the most frustrating things in life is not feeling heard. But we can’t really blame other people if we aren’t opening our mouths to speak what’s within us. You are your own best advocate. Don’t leave yourself hanging. When we learn to say what we need to say, we effectively free our inner self and put our own energy out into the world. The world becomes a better place when you actively express yourself in it.
3. Do What You Love to Do
Find that thing that fills you up and do it. Express yourself through the things that you do in your life. Start your own business. Write or draw. Sing or dance. Work out or play sports. Play board games with your family. Crunch numbers until your heart’s content. Find that thing that gives meaning to your life and go for it. The passion behind the things we love to do give them a freshness and a life. It’s our own self-expression manifested.
When we do things that the world wants us to do, we end up drained and exhausted. When we do what we love to do, though, those things that God placed within our hearts to do, we are filled up, fueled, and motivated. Nothing can hold us back when we do what is in our spirit’s to do. In fact, there is an extra power to it because we have the power of God and the Holy Spirit within us supporting us. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit in our inner self, in our spirit, so when we are doing what is in our heart to do, we are effectively following the leading of God in our lives.
It’s Time to Get in Tune
The more we practice these three things, the easier it becomes to express ourselves.
Since I began writing and drawing more, I have felt so much more in tune to who I am. It’s given me the confidence to be me, to say what I need to say, to take care of myself, and to trust myself. When I start to lose my way or feel overwhelmed in a situation, I can pause, listen, and then say or do what I feel within me is right.
It’s all about getting in tune to what’s inside of us. Even when we feel that we have forgotten who we are, the real us has never left. We are always right there inside ourselves just waiting for permission to come out. We can either spend our lives performing and aligning ourselves with who the world tells us we are, or we can live and align ourselves with who God says we are.
Imagine the color of a life lived self-expressed. It’s time to go live it.