You Can’t Be Something You Aren’t

Anxiety can be absolutely crippling. Anyone who suffers with anxiety can relate to days where we’ve been suffocated by stress and worry. We’ve had days where we can’t function. We’ve heard the overwhelm screaming so loud in our head that it’s difficult to rationalize even the simplest of situations. Yet we grit our teeth and try to push through. We still have to try our hardest for our kids, for our family, for our job. But you can’t be something you aren’t.

Woman with fake smile

It’s hard truth time, my friend…

You can’t be something you aren’t.

What I mean is that you can force a smile. You can pretend happy. But when your brain is battling every fiber of your being, including your happiness… you can’t fake real.

We’ve all heard “fake it til you make it.” And yes, it can work. If you’re in a bad mood and you have dinner guests coming over, you’re not going to continue in a foul disposition. You’re going to put on a facade and enjoy your guests. Before long that funk you were in will dissipate. In this case, the act of faking happy can actually alter your mentality into being happy.

But anxiety is a beast that steals your joy and makes you question… well, everything. You question if you’re doing the right thing. You stress about it. You replay situations in your head. Your heart races. Your mind races. Your emotions are heightened. And even though a smile may brighten your face, those that truly know you can see the hurt hiding underneath.

I was recently at a conference where one of the speakers tanked. Flat out tanked. She had actually prepared slides months before. Yet as she poised herself at the podium and faced a banquet room of expectant learners, she faced a harder reality. She couldn’t speak as an expert on something she was still struggling with and thus, driven by emotion, she went off script.

The speaker’s presentation was intended to appeal to our desire to be authentic in our words, our blogs, our actions and not allow other’s negativity to stifle our creativity. Her cry was “don’t give a f— about what other people think of you.”

However the irony was deep as she stood before us, trying to urge us onward when she had still not mastered her own lesson. As another conference attendee later shared, “I’ve never seen someone care about what other people thought about her as much as she did.”

The speaker didn’t just crash and burn. Sitting through the session was witness to a slow, painful death. She no longer captivated her audience. Until she shared something about the midlife crisis she was in the thick of only months before…

“I couldn’t get out of bed. I just couldn’t get my shit together.”

The speaker literally stood there and said even despite her husband’s kind urging, she couldn’t get herself out of bed. She couldn’t be the mom that was homeschool teaching her kids a second language, blogging, and performing all the other duties that were her regular routine. None of those admissions were on her presentation agenda.

I tell you this story to emphasize the fact that you can’t be something you aren’t. That poor speaker couldn’t stand up and fake that she didn’t care. She couldn’t fake that she was okay. And that is okay… perfectly okay!

With that confession, all eyes returned to the woman who was brave enough to stand at a podium in front of a conference and share her brokenness. Her words were fascinating because every one of us in the room could relate. We have all been there. And it’s healing to know that we’re not alone.

You have probably been there too. You may have never experienced a day that you couldn’t get out of bed. But I bet you’ve experienced a day or a season where you were so entangled in stress and anxiety that not even a smile could disguise the weight you were carrying.

Friends, you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to hide your brokenness. Dig deep enough and you’ll realize that all of us are broken and this life is a journey to be shared.

All of us have days we just can’t get our crap together. So be who you are. Be authentic and brave, yet be vulnerable enough to share your story. Anxiety doesn’t own you. Your faults don’t define you. You are not alone. Ask for help and look for a hand you can hold. 

It’s okay not to be okay. Just don’t stay stuck where you are.

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Alisha

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