1. At first, you feel “lost.”
You’re shedding the persona you identified with for a long time. While this is liberating, it’s also frightening in that you’re left to discover yourself all over again. Reacquainting yourself with yourself is, in many ways, like meeting a new person for the first time.
2. You begin to realize how few people you actually like.
When you aren’t being true to yourself, you think: “OMG I hate everyone.” When you are being true to yourself, you think: “There are actually only a handful of people with whom I genuinely connect.” What makes it so startling is that when you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, you develop relationships you don’t want to be in. (Your tribe will come. Be patient.)
3. The flip side of being able to identify what you truly want is being able to identify what you truly don’t.
Typically, the latter precedes the former, which is another reason why it’s so difficult at first. You look around at the life you’ve built and it can often incite panic. Simply, you realize that you aren’t living the way you want to be, and at first, it can seem impossible to reconcile this.
4. You struggle to find an equilibrium between “being honest” and “being an asshole.”
There is a fine line between knowing when it’s appropriate to state your unfiltered opinion, and when it’s just inconsiderate. It requires a lot of discernment, but it isn’t impossible to master.
5. You let go of the structures you used to rely on to affirm you.
You may have found your worth in good grades, or being “likeable,” or being stylish, beautiful, smart, successful, and so on. In the process of being more true to yourself, you may find that you have to shed the comfort of being seen as “good” in these very specific, socially constructed ways.
6. You have to acknowledge your feelings – even, and perhaps especially, the ones you don’t like.
Being true to yourself is more than just projecting a more authentic image. It’s also reconciling your genuine emotions, and being completely honest about how you think, and what you feel – even if those things don’t make you as comfortable or likeable.
7. You have to forgive yourself.
You have to fully look at the person you’ve been pretending to be, and you have to shed that layer of yourself. We develop these façades as a means of protection, and to discard them is to find a deeper safety and validation within yourself. Neither of those things are coming without forgiveness: for the person you’ve been, for what you didn’t do, and for how you let yourself down. The life you really want is on the other side.