10 steps to cutting out the bullshit and being the real you

Earlier this week, I wrote about the role of insecurity in mental ill health, showing how being somebody we are not is the surest way to ensure a psychological breakdown.

The further we travel from our centre of emotional gravity, the more likely we are to encounter disorder. The more we suppress our true identity through fear of judgement and social rejection, the greater our likelihood of experiencing a mental health crisis.

So, I hear you ask, how do I find the real me? How do I tune out the noise and live in expression of my inner values? What is the answer, Ryan?

Well, without further adieu, I present ten steps to cutting out the bullshit and being the real you.

1. Fail

Gaining life experience and acquiring exposure to different scenarios is crucial in honing our cultural taste buds. We learn more from failure than we do from success. Take risks, experiment with hobbies and allow yourself to fail.

Among the conscious, failure is merely a portal to honest self-examination, an essential gateway to self-awareness and self-appreciation.

By failing, we learn. By failing, we get to know ourselves. By failing, we develop the resilience and insurrectionist spirit that is so pivotal to individualism.

Try, fail and recalibrate: it’s the only way to grow.

2. Spend time alone

In order to discover the real you, a period of structured introspection is vital. Whether you rent a cabin in rural Slovenia or walk along the local promenade, make time and space to unplug from all responsibility.

Connecting with our own emotions requires disconnecting with the outside world. Listen to your soul. Reawaken your dreams. Sit, ponder, and actually pay attention to the thoughts that buzz around your head. Don’t dismiss them. Don’t be distracted by other things. Respect your intuition and define what makes you tick.

3. Accept yourself

Once conscious solitude gifts a definition of the real you, take some time to accept that person. This sounds easy, but trust me, it can be a real hurdle in your journey.

If you are a council estate kid who loves baseball, accept it. If you are a serious lawyer with a passion for karaoke, embrace it. If you are a reality television star who enjoys Sudoku puzzles and chess, that’s okay.

Gay or straight, black or white, little or large: accept yourself. It’s the only place to start.

4. Live free from approval

Stop living your life in other people’s context. Don’t second-guess your intuition. Don’t filter your hunches. Don’t triage your actions based on their likelihood of helping you gain approval. Think for yourself and do what you feel.

You have wasted long enough cowering to external demands. Instagram metrics and Twitter insights don’t define your value, worth or skill. Only you can quantify your own behaviour by deciphering its link to your inner calling. 

5. Express yourself

This is otherwise known as the rebellion stage.

After failing, analysing, accepting and growing, seize your time to shine. Think like you, talk like you, behave like you and don’t apologise for it.

When a passion becomes a thought, then a belief, and finally an opinion, make sure you share it. Live your truth, not somebody else’s lie. Those who don’t agree do not matter. Expressing yourself is the greatest way of sifting chaos, negativity and clutter from your life. It makes room for the real you to bloom.

6. Do what you love, but don’t expect anything in return

In the modern world, we are promised that happiness will be attained when we turn our passion into our career. And so we sell t-shirts online, hoping to make some pennies in support of our writing. And so we model toothpaste on Instagram, viewing it as a stepping stone to influencer status. And so we try to monetise what we love, turning it into something we actually loathe.

Do what you love is the defining mantra of the millennial age. I love the sentiment, the journey and the ambition, but the sense of entitlement needs to stop.

Do what you love because you love it, and keep passions where they belong.

Don’t expect to make money baking cakes. Don’t expect to attract sponsorship for your vlog. Don’t expect to quit your job and simply record podcasts in your underpants every day.

By all means try, but don’t expect it to work. Follow your dreams, but don’t be a prisoner to cash. Live with passion and live from the heart, but avoid the arena of rejection-fuelled resentment.

7. Compartmentalise your responsibilities

I learned the value of compartmentalisation while attempting to manage my obsessive-compulsive disorder. Essentially, it preaches the importance of keeping things in their designated places with minimal crossover or bleed. Work at the office. Sleep in the bedroom. Eat in the dining room. Do one thing at a time.

The acquiring of responsibility is a major impediment to living in accordance with your true values, purpose and energy. House, car, mortgage, job. It can all congeal into a life of delivering on obligation rather than actually enjoying things. Compartmentalisation gives us greater perspective on what we are actually doing. That, in turn, improves the quality of our self-analysis and also allows for more effective management of time.

Don’t expect your hobby to become your career. Don’t let your bills become your driving force. Don’t become an idle bystander in your own life. Take the bull by the horns, deal with things in their own space, and prioritise actions in accordance with your soul.

Minimalism is the most militant strain of compartmentalisation. Check it out. We can all learn something from Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.

8. Live in the moment

The days seem like they are going nowhere, don’t they?

Weeks blend into months and months turn into years. Christmas will be here again soon, then bang, before you know it, you will be thirty with two kids and an extensive array of Lyle & Scott knitwear.

For too many people, life has become a corporate box-ticking exercise, their progression marked by checklists and obligations, plans and schemes. We lurch from one insipid event to another, generally meandering through the motions as if anaesthetised by the metronomic banality of expectation.

Stop doing that. Start living in the moment. Get your head out of the clouds. Open your eyes and ears. Feel, taste, smell and appreciate. Let feelings, moments and thoughts sink in, then respect them. Don’t bat them away because somebody says you don’t have time. Get excited. Get animated. Even get carried away. Live for now and live without apology. The day you are dreaming about in 2030 may never arrive. 

9. Build your personal brand

There is a stigma attached to personal branding. People are innately sceptical of the concept, synonymising it with vacuous self-help eBooks, arrogant ‘life coaches,’ garish consultants and contrived webinars. I get it, and there is a direct link between celebrity and narcissism that cannot be ignored, but please hear me out.

We all have a personal brand. Some people choose to monetise theirs while others shy away from any form of self-promotion, fearing claims of vainglory. But personal branding doesn’t have to be about money. It doesn’t have to be about marketing, or social media, or getting paid to appear at a nightclub. Personal branding can be about whatever you want it to be about. I mean, it literally says personal in the title. Build it how you see fit.

More generally, when referring to personal branding in this context, I’m simply encouraging you to stand for something, to carve out your niche. Find your calling and convey that passion with untrammelled zeal. Be proud of yourself; there is no shame in that.

10. Create something

Once you have failed, regrouped, accepted yourself and expressed the real you without seeking approval, it’s time to create a reliable, consistent outlet for that energy. The real you deserves a legacy, something tangible and unspoiled by external forces. Something fundamentally you.

I launched my own website and developed this blog, which is comprised of disparate topics. I write freely and from the heart, for myself first and foremost, about baseball and football, mental health and travel. I write whatever takes my fancy, informed by my experiences and my spiritual journey. I write without a filter, and so these articles become a tribute to the real me, whether people are bothered or not.

Now it’s your turn. When you reach this stage, having worked through the previous steps, build something great, build something you, and let the whole world hear it. Start a blog or vlog or podcast or charity. Run a marathon or create a youth football club. Make a difference in the world as yourself, not as people would like you to be, and look back with a smile at all the crap you left behind.

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