How to be comfortable in your own skin: become comfortable with crying. There, article over. Drop a bill in the tip jar on your way out.
Of course, there are those of you who want more. You’re quite comfortable putting your needs before brevity, aren’t you? All right, then. Pay attention.
Who you are… is constantly changing. You’re rarely in your own skin, you’re just borrowing till the next sloughing.
That’s right: we’re snake people. Most of the time we’re trying to hold on to the familiarities of the old skin; we’re hard-wired to be creatures of habit.
What we don’t realize, though, is that holding on to the old keeps us from appreciating the skin-generating machine inside.
Me, I can’t maintain a relationship to save my life, but I know that “I” am lovable, quirks, flaws, and insecurities included.
Before we proceed, loutish behavior is NOT a quirk. Quirks are generally endearing at some point.
Nor is loutish behavior a flaw any lout should become comfortable with.
Let us be clear: do not ever become comfortable being a bully, thief, cheat, flagrant manipulator, gas-lighter, or one of a hundred other ne’er-do-wells.
If you’re comfortable being a jerk, do escort yourself out.
As for the rest of us, let’s talk about the way we chew.
By the time any of us exit our teen years we’ll have consumed so much media we should automatically be given a B.A. in liberal arts.
Sadly, most of what we consumed was likely swallowed nearly whole after two or three perfunctory bites.
We learn who we are via these clumps of media. We’re the Shy One, the Moody One, the Goofball, the Flirt, the Stargazer, the Goth, the Dramatist…
We try so hard to hold onto those skins made from skins because they provide a convenient shorthand by which we may be identified.
This is not to say shorthand is entirely invalid. I love a good joke, but I’ve yet to become the life of a party, and I’m OK with that.
The few parties I attend turn out to be good times for all; no need for a limelight aimed directly at me.
I’m the Affable One. I’m comfortable with enjoying myself over fretting about how many mental “likes” I’m getting from others.
Your particular under-surface skin machine might generate thinner material here and there, or even elbow patches, making you shy or contemplative.
Work with that. Shy people are often excellent observers. The world can always use a Sherlock Holmes.
Contemplative people often show us things we wouldn’t normally have seen. The world needs all the peering it can get.
See how the skin you’re in can easily transform into something more beautiful than you realized?
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You Are Simply You
There’s no need for us to feel like we should be all the things, or even be the pinnacle of any one thing. You are simply you until you slough off you.
Comfort is in the knowing and the sloughing. The sloughing is growth.
No matter how comfortable we get with ourselves, growth is not only always possible but entirely necessary, otherwise we’d be a planet of teeny wiggly things rather than folks who got to share space with Harriet Tubman, Stephen Hawking, Prince, Gilda Radner, and Basho.
Discomfort is usually a result of rushing to be what we think others expect to see of us.
The older we get, we should – if fortunate – realize that thoroughly chewing what we consume (and thus put forth) has nothing but benefits, not least being the fact that it slows us down and centers us.
Centering takes us away from that spot-lit area on the stage in which we inadvertently (and squirmingly) place ourselves.
It lets us be shy, uncoordinated, or even downright klutzy. We don’t have to be the glorious lead in a huge, unwritten play.
Or we could be. Some of us don’t mind being center stage, although we might feel that others see that as a flaw in us.
See how discomfort works? It’s a sneaky thing, but the more we slow ourselves down and practice “conscious feeding” (awareness), the more we realize it’s not us making ourselves uncomfortable, it’s that amorphous, internalized “them” we’ve gobbled up for the bulk of our lives.
And why would you want to give so much power and influence to a non-existent audience anyway?
“The best way to be you,” a wise one might say, “is to be you.”
If you’re a klutz, trip; laugh it off as long as you didn’t hurt yourself or others. Meanwhile, work on paying attention to your surroundings and center of gravity.
If you’re afraid to speak in public, no need to feel you ought to conduct a sermon on a mount. Try being the one reading the church announcements instead, or even simply reading a menu to your kids.
Being comfortable in the skin you’re in is less about accepting flaws as it is about asking why we see certain qualities about ourselves as flaws in the first place.
Are we viewing the story of “us” in shorthand, or are we reading the full text?
There will always be things we wish we could do better, or didn’t do at all, just as there will always be awkwardness, over-confidence, nervous titters, overly loud laughing, wallflowers, salsa dancers, and a sense that, no matter what, we’re never quite who we should be.
That’s the nature of the skin, though. Always changing.
Realizing that we are in constant growth – and that we’re not alone in that, we are all in constant regrowth – is the first and only step in becoming at peace with who we are.
Life isn’t static, and neither are the skins we’re in. We exist in constant developmental motion, far too wiggly to be pinned (or to pin ourselves) to one unfairly unobjective spot.
I leave you with a wonderful speech Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy gave to Captain James T. Kirk when Kirk was feeling particularly unfond of the skin a particularly perilous mission made him feel he was in:
In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million Earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that… and perhaps more, only one of each of us… Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.
Never destroy yourself.
Star Trek geek for life.
Enjoy you, do you, renew.