Friday, April 8, 2011

Be Who You Are......

I am always amused when I meet a client for the first time. After several conversations over the phone or via the internet, most of them expect to be greeted by a Patchouli-Scented Plain-Jane dressed in a little cotton dress and Birkenstocks. Most are pleasantly surprised to discover I don't look like that at all.  I understand why they have this pre-conceived notion of me. I am a yoga practicing, real food advocate and a Vegan. Often, there is a stereo-typical  look that goes along with my kind of lifestyle.  The whole Nature Girl trend doesn't work for me. Believe me, I tried. It's not me.

I must confess, I love Patchouli Oil and wear it often. Right now, though, I am crazy about the Fredericks of Hollywood Signature Fragrance.  It smells so good and so sexy, I want to bathe in it daily. In fact, I adore everything in the Fredericks catalog. I should own stock in the company.

I dye my hair (if I didn't I would be totally gray), I wear makeup and I carry a designer handbag. Take a look in my closet and you will find an array of famous label clothing.  Don't even get me started on shoes.  I love sexy, strappy shoes and I have a collection of boots, pumps and sandals that makes Imelda Marcos look like an amateur.  My only rule concerning shoes- NO LEATHER.  I subscribe to Vogue, Glamour, Self and Vanity Fair and read each magazine from cover to cover. I love that kind of stuff.  Yes, I do yoga and I shop in healthfood stores. I read Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times. I am a card-carrying member of PETA. I don't eat or wear animal products but unless you share a meal with me, you probably would never guess I am a Vegan. I just don't fit the mold.  I am who I am, take it or leave it.

I wasn't always like this.  It took a long time for me to discover who I am, accept it, and go with it. I was always trying to belong to something.  We usually become like the company we keep. We talk alike, we eat alike, we drink alike, we think alike. What happens when we try to fit in where we don't really belong? We can either squeeze ourselves in and be miserable and uncomfortable or we can break the mold.  I prefer to break the mold.

When I was about fifteen years old, my parents became Born-Again Christians.  Every moment we spent in church.  There weren't very many kids my age in church so I began to associate with the older girls. They were sweet and quiet and plain. I was loud, extravagant, and crazy about fashion. I would arrive to functions and bible studies in designer jeans and high-heels.  I wore eyeshadow and lipstick.  Apparently, this was not a good thing. A well-meaning friend took me on the side and explained what it meant to be a Christian. 

"It is sinful to draw attention to yourself or to wear the latest fashions and makeup," she explained. "The love of God in your heart is your true beauty now."

In order to fit in, I became just like them.  I kept my wild and crazy personality under wraps and stopped wearing makeup.  I dressed in overalls and conservative, knee-length dresses.  I longed to flip through the latest issue of VOGUE magazine instead of the Bible and beat myself up emotionally for having such worldy desires. The battle within made me sad, angry and depressed. It took me a very long time to realize that I loved God just as much as my Christian girlfriends.  I had as much inner beauty as they did, I just wanted and needed a little lipstick and blush to make me glow. If that made me a sinner, then so be it. Eventually, I found new friends who loved God, but were more like me.

Later in life, when I went back to school to earn my degree in nutrition, I found myself in a similiar situation.   All the girls there looked exactly the same. They had a particular style that screamed "Health Nut." There I was with my Fifth Avenue hair-cut and designer shoes. I stuck out like a sore thumb and felt very out of place until I noticed another girl in the group. She was the picture of elegance, style and grace.  Gina was the personal assistant to a famous hat-designer. She lived in a gorgeous apartment on the Upper West Side.  I was immediately drawn to her and we became friends.  Clutching our Gucci wallets, we shopped 'til we dropped in the local boutiques during lunch while all the other students escaped to the park for some yoga.

As time went on, a transformation took place in both of us. Gina changed her platinum blonde hair to her natural color- dark brown. I was a red-head at the time and did the same. We swapped our designer handbags for earth-friendly, canvas totes.  We sipped herbal tea instead of racing out to Starbucks for a coffee fix and sacrificed our shopping sprees for yoga. We wore jeans, long skirts and very little makeup just like all the other girls in school.  We traded in our heels for sensible shoes. I bought my first pair of Birkenstocks. We were becoming like everyone else.  There was just one major difference.  Gina was content.  I was miserable. Gina found herself and her true inner beauty. She realized she was hiding behind a facade of expensive designer crap. She was a slave to vanity, fashion and perfection and was in serious debt as a result. But deep inside, she was that girl from Montana and she would never be whole until she embraced and accepted that part of herself. I was discovering many things about myself, as well. Life changing things.  I also learned that I still longed for the latest Louis Vuitton bag, makeup, and heels and that it was perfectly normal . On graduation day, Gina had a one-way ticket back to Montana and a plan to start her own business. I had a similar plan but first on my agenda-- Bloomingdales and Macy's!  I told that to my favorite professor as I hugged him goodbye.  He laughed and said, " Cynthia, do what you want and be who you are!"

I discovered who I was long ago and fought against it.  I kept trying to fit myself into some mold that was not made for me in order to achieve a sense of belonging. As a result, I have been abused, controlled and depressed.  I refuse to let that happen ever again. You cannot hide who you are for very long. The battle within will eventually become so violent, it will manifest in ways you can never imagine. 

I believe in change from the inside out.  I am always striving to nourish my body, mind and spirit. I want to grow, evolve and develop an inner radiance that shines through to all the world around me. I want to share it with others.  I just choose to do it in strappy high heels at the local Whole Foods Market or while shopping for make up at Macy's.

I do not believe we can ever truly be happy or live the life we were meant to live until we learn to love and acccept who we are, inside and out. Never, ever try to fit into a place you don't belong. And don't ever let anyone force you to be something you are not.

Break the mold and be who you are!

And this is my Daily Cyn......

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