Years ago I sat outside in the dark on a curb with another woman who didn’t really want to go into the strip club either. In fact, none of the group (that I’m aware) had gone into one before, but it was a bachelorette party, so it seemed like the best time to let our hair down and do something memorable.

But I didn’t want to.

It wasn’t “me.”

So I sat on the curb that night and waited for the party to go on.

What I’ve noticed is that not going along with the crowd doesn’t really make you one of the most sought after people when invitations go out.

It only took me about 40 years, but I’m feeling pretty okay about that now.

Recently we attended a comedy club with friends, and at one point I sat back at looked around at all the people laughing while I wasn’t. Much of it wasn’t funny to me and I found myself feeling embarrassed and a little ashamed that it was difficult to be in the moment. Why couldn’t I have as much fun as it appeared others were having?

Then I tuned into my narrative.

I’m so lame… Quit being so serious. You are always serious, Rachel. No wonder people aren’t glad to be with you. You’re not that fun. Everybody here is so much more free than you. What is wrong with you?

Woah! I would never say that to someone, but my brain will gladly scold me so that I get into gear––for social acceptance, you know!

It feels good to belong. It feels great when people are glad to be with us. EJ Wilder defines JOY as exactly that: somebody is glad to be with me! It is JOY when we’re glad to be with those who are glad to be with us. Connection. Camaraderie. Love. Acceptance. Joy!

When we left the club I asked a direct question to two of the people in our group about our experience and their response left me with a huge question: who else is wearing a mask in order to fit in?

Have you worn a mask to cover up what you’ve truly felt?

What is the underlying narrative that keeps you from being who you truly are at all times?

This isn’t about strip clubs and comedy clubs; it’s about staying true in all the things.

Over the last five years, I’ve found this often awkward experience of not following the crowd has been useful in forming the ability to coach those well who want to be true to who they are inside, too.

  • They want to say no when they really want to say no.
  • They’d like to say what they feel without shame, guilt or fear of judgment.
  • They rest in any validation that staying true to themselves in their job, marriage, or new creative endeavors is okay.
  • They are thoughtful about the decisions they make for their children even if they’re uncommon.
  • They love authenticity.
  • They’re loyal to fellow tribe members and are glad to be with them.
  • They want to dance in the streets unashamed, like David before the people, and feel free. (They want to say things like that…)

The greatest act of courage is to be who you are.

If you’ve found yourself holding up masks marked “competent,” “wild,” “shy,” “humble,” “powerful,” “confident,” or something else, and you know it’s a label you feel is expected of you or it’s something you’re hiding behind, take a deep breath and take that mask off more often.

Sit on the curb with some other courageous self who is ready to take off their mask too, and just be yourselves. Together.

It’s pure joy.

Rachel is a Certified Professional Coach with a Masters Degree in Counseling. She coaches professionals through important decisions so their minds are clear to move forward in life and in business. Besides coaching and parenting, Rachel spends her time learning, creating, and sharing best practices for personal and professional growth.

Check our INspired Leadership team website to learn more.

Send Rachel an email at rachelt@essdack.org

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