A friend of mine shared this article to Facebook and it really rocked me- 17 Successful People Show How to Become Unmistakable. Particularly, this quote by Jon Acuff really challenged me:

“I think to be unmistakable is to live out who you are in all your uniqueness and use the gifts you were given. It’s the bravery to march into the deep forest of who you are and be that person.” 

How many of us can say we are truly using the gifts we have been given? How many of us march deeply into the forest of who we are? And moreover, can we do it online?

Both online and off, but more so online, I struggle with being authentic. I struggle with comparison. I struggle with looking at the beautifully curated lives of other people on Instagram and forgetting that behind every beautiful photo is another side of the room that likely has a screaming toddler and messy clutter in it. As Jen Flores put it so clearly in a recent blog post, it can be easy to get disengaged when looking at beautiful, glossy images when our own lives look nothing like that colour coordinated group of 9 squares.

There was a time when I REALLY struggled with comparison and it basically debilitated me. I compared myself so much to every interior designer I came across and always thought- if I just gain a bit more experience I can have a portfolio like them. If I just work a little harder I can afford a lifestyle like them. If I just save a little more money I can buy a handbag like them- and I'll have made it. 

It pains me to think how much I let other people control decisions about my own life- all in the pursuit of "making it". I did it far too often, and it took several years of prayer, coaching and hard interior work on myself to get out of that practice, develop a backbone and change. 

Fast forward to 2016- and while I don't compare myself as much to others- I limit myself in a whole new way. I am my own worst limiting factor.

To use the analogy of the forest- I am on the periphery. I am waving hi to the beautiful interior but I cannot go in. The forest looks amazing but I am afraid of what will happen when I go inside and really be that person. It's like I can see the most beautiful waterfall and I am parched with thirst- but even though I need the water so badly- I won't move my feet. 

And what does this all boil down to?!? Why will I not move my feet? FEAR. 

Anyone else suffer like I do? Anyone else afraid of what might happen if they speak from their truly authentic self? Anyone else afraid of the rejection of what might happen, or the success that might occur if they are really honest online? 

And I'm not talking necessarily about sharing every aspect of one's life on the internet- cause there is lots of room for appropriate privacy too. But what I'm talking about is- can we share the joy and vibrancy of a beautiful life, but also reveal an authentic life with depth and meaning? Can we share the beauty and the struggle? 

Here's my promise to you my dear readers: I want to authentically tell the story of my life. 

Here's the quick version: I am married to an amazing man who is my best friend and who gets paid to bring Jesus to other people. I have 5 kids, and we have had them in 7 years, they are all 6 and under, and yes, we'll probably have more. I drive a minivan and am proud of it. I love my interior design business and earning a living but I love balance more. If I could stand on a soapbox I would fight for motherhood to be valued, and try to encourage other mothers to not look at having children as an impediment to success. If I live to age 90, you will probably find me, God willing, running an Alpha course at our local church next to my husband, children, and grandchildren, living in a house I continue to redecorate and fill with fresh flowers daily. My house, while beautiful, is often a mess. Finally, I feel most alive when I am with all my kids on a new adventure, using my strategy strength, or leading a worship song of praise. 

If you are looking for one concrete way to find your authentic self, Lisa Ferguson of 1000wattlife.com suggests the following exercise. Shut off distractions and without any filter dump everything you currently are on post-it notes. Then put them on a blank wall and start grouping them into three groups: 

1) I uniquely am 

2) I am when I compare myself to others

3) I am because this is who someone else wanted me to be

Then sit back and reflect on your true self group and identify one strategy to embrace those attributes more. Where you let others direct your path, get clarity on why and create a strategy to stop this behaviour in the future. For more of Lisa's thought provoking thoughts check out her Instagram feed here.

Thanks for coming alongside my journey into the forest- I too am happy to walk with you in yours! xo Lisa