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Mental Health

How to Find the Courage to Be Authentically You

I have always battled with not feeling worthy. I placed my worth with my work and accomplishments. I spent a lot of energy worrying about how I am perceived by other people, making me never feel enough.  

I told my therapist about my low self-esteem, and she recommended the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. (You can purchase this at Target!) This book shifted my mindset and allowed me to live more authentically myself. I highly recommend it to everyone.  

This is not your typical self-help book. It is not filled with criticism and egotistical remarks on how you should live your life more like the author to be a happier/more successful person. Brown is vulnerable and shares her own experiences with shame and self-doubt, which allows you to connect and relate to her. She clarifies that actual change is a process that takes time. However, she gives amazing advice on how to cultivate wholehearted living and improve self-worth.  

From her work, I learned the importance of setting boundaries. I am a people pleaser by nature. I want everyone to like me, so I will put myself in situations I don’t want to be in. I had to practice boundary-setting to maintain respect for myself. Through that, I learned how to respect other people’s boundaries as well.    

Brene Brown makes it clear that authenticity isn’t always the safe or easy option. It can feel uncomfortable. You are stepping out of your comfort zone by showing people who you really are rather than what they expect you to be like. However, she says that there’s even more risk in hiding yourself and your gifts from the world. Trading in your authenticity for being liked may cause you to experience depression, anxiety, resentment, and addiction.  

My biggest barrier to authenticity, like many others, has been my battle with perfectionism. I realized that perfectionism is not the same thing as reaching my full potential and setting realistic goals thanks to Brown’s writing. Perfectionism is far from healthy because perfection is unattainable. Perfectionism was a way for me to gain acceptance from the people around me, which caused me to believe that I was what I accomplished. I wanted people to believe that I had my life together. That I am a perfect being that could do no wrong. This held me back from making meaningful connections. So I had to ask myself, do I care about what people think to the point where I want to change who I really am and risk not meeting genuine friends that accept me for all my imperfections? The short answer was no. I was sick of putting on an act.

I needed to practice self-compassion first. Brown said we can do so through self-kindness, common humanity and mindfulness. Self-kindness is listening and being warm to ourselves when we fail or feel insufficient. Common humanity is recognizing that we all have struggles and feeling insecure is not just personal to us. Mindfulness is not letting our emotions sweep us up into a cloud of negativity. We should not suppress our emotions, but we also should not let them control us.  

This one post could not give Brene Brown’s book the justice it deserves. It literally changed my life and the way I treat myself. I am enough. You are enough. Creating change that you want to see is a lengthy procedure that requires effort and dedication. Showing the world who you really are takes bravery but it will make you so much happier. You can learn how to do this in Brene Brown’s book. If you don’t have enough time, you can listen to her talk about authenticity or her Ted Talk about vulnerability. Remember that authenticity is not something you naturally have. It is a conscious choice you make every day.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about cultivating courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” – Brene Brown 
Isabel Crabtree

Illinois State '25

Hello everyone! I am a college freshman at Illinois State University. I love all things music, true crime, and cheesy romance. I write to inspire and share what I've learned. Instagram: Izzy_the_wizzy https://linktr.ee/isabelcrabtree
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