I have a note on my desk that says PENCIL, TWEEZERS, OWEN: SOCK. I can only assume this was the worst grocery list in the history of the world, or maybe notes from a game of “I Spy” that I do not remember playing? Who can say, really.
This is me. I am less a “person who is on top of all the things” and more “a person who keeps inexplicable collections of words that I do not remember writing.” I probably won’t put that on a business card, but it is more or less true.
I’m keeping track of the things that are important to me and also sometimes forgetting why I thought they were important. Pencils and tweezers.
My friend Colby was talking the other day about the idea of coming fully alive: about how to be more of your true self, and how to rely less on the other identities you construct for yourself—the ones you use to cover over your pain or your fear or your shame or your general sense of unworthiness. You know, little things like that.
He was encouraging us to practice becoming more of our true selves.
We can all do this, he said. There’s nothing magical about it.
There’s nothing magical about it.
And there isn’t. It’s a very plain, everyday kind of thing.
It’s listening. It’s moving forward when your heart says YES, and turning back when your heart says NOT THIS. It’s saying what you mean. It’s one choice at a time, and a new chance every morning. (Here’s one way I get started.)
You don’t need a Ring of Power or a message from Aslan or a cloak of invisibility or even a wand with a Phoenix feather to start living more fully alive.
But honestly a little magic would make it easier.
Because shedding your old skin and all the masks you’ve been wearing? It’s hard. It’s awkward. It’s embarrassing. People don’t get it, or they don’t get you.
When you step out of the box, there are always people who want to hand that cardboard right back to you. Here you go! They say. Could you just stay in here, please? You stay in yours and I’ll stay in mine.
(It’s easier for them that way, because they know what to expect from you as long as you stay in the box. But your whole life is waiting on the outside.)
When you step out, when you decide to stop pretending to be someone “better” than you are—someone a little smoother and cleverer, someone who never forgets what she was going to say, someone who’s always ready to make people laugh, someone with effortlessly perfect hair—you get to be who you really are.
You get to be a real person.
When you admit that you are all of the things that make you human—sometimes afraid, sometimes stressed, sometimes unsure, sometimes anxious, sometimes wrong, sometimes forgetful, sometimes goofy, sometimes overtired and cranky and irrational, different from everyone else and also the same, and still always, always loved—when you are that person, not the fake-fancy version of yourself—something kind of magical does happen.
It would be neat if I could say that uncovering your true self will make you healthy, wealthy and wise! But that’s not true, it’s not the point, and it does not even rhyme.
The point is that the YOU underneath all the armor you’re wearing—that you is enough. You don’t have to carry the weight of performing, or the weight of achieving, or the weight of trying to do it all, or the weight of being the person everyone expects you to be instead of the person you are.
I want to tell you that uncovering your true self will help you find your people, and that might be true, but it might not. (It wasn’t true for me for a long time.) It’s true that other people can’t connect with you if they can’t see you. When you’re being yourself and telling your truth, you at least have a chance.
But the real magic of coming alive is in setting down your armor.
It’s in the lightness you find when you let go.
It’s not about what you get, and it’s not even about who you connect with. Coming alive is not for them. It’s for you. It’s about peace and freedom for you.
And then you bring that peace and freedom with you wherever you go.
You are not weary from holding up your own shield. Your arms are open. You walk around in the world with your light and your lightness, and that is a gift to the people around you.
I don’t know, I think that’s pretty magical.
Or maybe magic is the wrong word. Maybe it’s divine.
Maybe it’s just plain old good.
Even if I never do figure out what Owen’s sock had to do with the tweezers.