Years ago I remember reading a book titled Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You? by Jordan Paul and Margaret Paul. While the book is written with couples in mind, that question can apply to any relationship you might have.
Can you be yourself and still be loved? Still be accepted—or find approval?
And if you don't feel you can, what does that mean for the life of the relationship? Do you want a relationship where you can't be who you are? Are you really willing to twist yourself into a pretzel in order to be accepted or loved? I know, I know, sometimes in a workplace, it's difficult to be totally ourselves and still keep our jobs. And I understand that these days, it's not quite so easy to leave a job even when it feels restricting and uncomfortable.
I suspect that when you were younger, you may have done more twisting into a pretzel to be accepted. I know I did. I didn't realize the importance of authenticity, and I didn't think I could be loved if I didn't hide certain parts of myself with certain people. As you and I age, however, we become more comfortable in our own skin. And we realize that being who we were meant to be brings so much more contentment, happiness and joy. Actually, it takes less energy, too!
What I'm discovering as well is that the more authentic and real I am with those I care about, the more comfortable they feel—and thus, the more they drop their guard and feel OK about being authentic and real with me, too. This just makes relationships deeper and more enriching.