Permission to Be Yourself

On the heels of writing about confidence, it seems fitting to address the concept of permission.  Specifically, permission to be yourself.  It seems to me the greatest artists and leaders have this one figured out.

I’m not sure if I read about this, or if it was an organic observation, but there are lots of people out there who are not asking anyone for permission to be themselves.  I know it in my gut when I see it.  And they are all gorgeous in their own ways.  I may not always agree with their values or opinions, but I do admire their ability to move freely about the cabin.  They are not secretly wondering if it’s okay to feel how they feel, or do what they do, or love what they love.  They have a very deep, inner sense that their compass is their compass, and have decided (consciously or unconsciously) that said compass is fundamentally okay.

This is why I love hanging out with people in the 60 years and over lunch bunch.  Being able to look in the mirror and accept who you see and maybe even (gasp) love who you see, often times comes with age.  And this leads to giving yourself permission to just be.  From what I hear, the older you get the less you care what other people think.  And in order to give yourself permission to be YOU, you absolutely cannot consult with the world at large.  Now, don’t get me wrong, we need love and support and perspective from our fellow compadre-litos, but this one . . . this permission issue . . . is 100% an inside job.

The benefits of being able to give yourself permission to be you are many.  And it’s one of those things that, like wellness, is available to everyone.  And! it can be learned.

One of my favorite/not favorite questions from college students is “how do I become an artist?” (Meaning musical artist.)  Or, “how do I get gigs?”  Well . . . on some level, you just do it.  The people who are out there playing music are probably not asking every other teacher how to do it.  They just do.  And when you hit a road block, you figure out what you don’t know and find someone with the answer.  We spend so much time in seminars and workshops and classrooms learning all the rules for being a working musician, but until you go out and get gigs, all that information founders meaningless.  There is no magic formula, except maybe to start with giving yourself permission to love what you love and then go for it.  If you can start by sitting quietly and writing down the kinds of music and experiences that make you feel GREAT, that you really connect with, you can begin to know who you are.  The next step is giving yourself permission to high five that beautiful soul of yours.

Here’s another twist to the story, as you learn to give yourself permission to be you, you might (maybe just a little bit) realize that what you thought you wanted isn’t what you really want.  Oops. That can be a hard one to swallow.  But, it’s all going to be okay.  You are going to make it to the other side of whatever you are dealing with, pushing down, or ignoring inside yourself thus far.  I believe there are 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th . . . well, endless chances in life.  You gotta get real about what makes your heart sing in order to get to the permission part, though.

It’s a simple idea: giving oneself permission to be that self.  Fully developed, it looks like confidence and the ability to say what you want.  I love seeing people who are long past the need to ask someone else how to be who they already are.  ‘Cause if you think about it, where you are is where you are and that place is ALWAYS okay.  Maybe not perfect, but definitely okay.  Even if you don’t have it all together, you can absolutely give yourself permission to just be a “work in progress” kinda person.  Shhhh, don’t tell, but everyone is anyway.

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