One of the joys of getting older is finding more places where you can be your full self. You discover that you no longer have to conform to separate versions of yourself based on who you're with.
Over time, there are fewer places in your life where you need to self censor. This creates a positive cycle: As you open up, those around you do too, which gives you the courage to be imperfect and open up further. And around it goes.
The goal isn’t to always have your full self on display, though. If you’re a politician, for example, you’d probably prefer most of your romantic self to be hidden from your professional sphere. Rather, the goal is to find spaces where you can show all the aspects of yourself you want to show without fear or judgment.
Once you become aware of this, you can apply it as a useful litmus test when exploring new relationships and environments by asking yourself, “How much of me can I bring to the table here?”
Understanding this frees you from the trap of wanting everyone to like you, which isn't possible, of course. Only then can you begin the real work of finding the people who are happy to see you for who you already are.
In doing so, we can bring a greater sense of confidence, strength, and grace to our everyday lives.
Thanks to Matthew Barram for this insight.