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Freedom to Be Authentically YOU

January 19th, 2021
By Alanis read
Posted in Culture

As I sat on my grandparents’ couch as a child, I distinctly remember that icky feeling of plastic on my legs. I think we all have a memory of the layer of vinyl that coats a decade-old couch as it slowly perishes beneath it, but if you’d like my opinion on this practice, I’ll condense it into this: Ugly plastic will cover pretty couch. Why? To protect pretty couch, but ugly plastic makes pretty couch look… ugly.

Moral of the story: I am avidly against plastic couch covers… KIDDING.

Actually, what that (oddly specific) hot take shows us is that as human beings, we’re willing to sacrifice comfort and authenticity for ‘beauty’.

Similarly, in this vinyl-coated world of ours, we often feel like we, ourselves, need that plastic film in order to be deemed as beautiful. We feel safer when we have a barrier that allows us to be seen, but not touched. I perpetuated this idea for years that the only way I could be loved was to conform and then perhaps, I’d be accepted — even if it was at the expense of my own authenticity.

A truth that I came to discover was that whether I was being praised for being a phony or rejected for being myself, true freedom always came from the latter.

The question became, how could I reveal who I truly am, not just to others but to myself? How can I live the life that God created us all to live – one without duplicity or guile?

Self-Analysis + God-Analysis

The process of self-discovery is life-long, but it’s one that’ll never truly be completed until we first discover who our God is. Our own beauty reflected in the mirror can’t even fully be embraced until we first recognize the Giver of each and every flaw and lash because ‘even the hairs of your head are all numbered’. (Matthew 10:30)

Since we have a God who so intimately knows every detail of who we are and will be, we’ll come to find that the fruit of a relationship with Him is understanding more about ourselves.

Time in intentional conversation with Him will change everything. In moments where we’re not accepted by anyone else, we’ll find that in front of His Eucharistic presence, He looks at us with a deep, intimate love and understanding, like a father gazing at his child. This deep love will conjure us to strip away the qualities that possess us, rather than us possessing it, it’ll challenge us to step up to live the lives of true Christians in whatever calling that may look like for us and it’ll allow us to understand why He created us the way that He did.

The aha moments never came too naturally for me, but each second we spend with Christ, He’s healing our hearts, helping us to figure out how to utilize these unique gifts that we each possess, according to His will.

The Beauty in YOU

“The very qualities we’re most ashamed of, the ones we keep trying to reshape or hide, are in fact the key to finding real joy” – Ken Page

What an absolute plot-twist! The sheer idea that what we deem as “our weaknesses” are actually a part of us… intentionally.

To apply this into my own life, I’ve always been ashamed of my laugh. I have a loud laugh and find way too many things amusing, so, because of fear that it’d be an annoyance to others, I began to suppress it. Because of the anxiety I felt in these situations, I’d purposefully deprive others of the beauty that was my joy. I now realize what a gift humor is and LOL.

The truth is that each part of yourself that you suppress is a necessary quality that God gave specifically to you. The gift of awkwardness, speaking quietly and spending far too long writing a blog post — are just a few of my unconventional, but very necessary gifts. The moment that we finally begin to view them as that, we’ll become truly alive.

Do NOT Conform

A good chunk of my life was spent believing that I obtained the gift of “personality bilocation” … in other words, I was just Catholic and two-faced.

I lived a Hannah Montana lifestyle where I was the relatable-at-whatever-the-cost girl at school but when Sunday came around, I transformed into a seemingly holy person which just caused this massive division in my heart– a division between Christ and the world.

I remember hearing a homily from my priest, Fr. David Rider, that mentioned this incredibly simple line: “Be in public who you are in private”.

It sparked this examination in me that I would suggest you examine for yourselves:

·  Am I in school who I am at home?

·  Am I with my friends who I am with family?

·  Am I at Church who I am alone in my room?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, then your heart is searching for that stability. It’s yearning for the freedom to be the real ‘you’ without any influences of nouns (people, places or things).

I’ll leave you with a prayer I wrote for moments where I can’t find the freedom to be myself and feel tempted to fit in:

Jesus, just a glance at the cross is proof of how authentic your love is. Let that be a sure sign for us to seek nothing else but just that, authenticity. In moments where the spirit of comparison takes over us, bring us back into the reality of how beautifully, unique You’ve created each of us to be and release us from any bonds that hold us back from Your universal call to love.

I’m praying for you!

About the Author

Alanis is a New Yorker who spent 4 years in the beauty industry doing make-up on the women of the Upper East Side. God works in the funniest of ways when, after work, she attended Catholic Underground, where she (not so) coincidentally sat in front of the CP missionaries. As a person who’s so passionate about the pro-life movement, she wondered if there was a way to reach these beloved women before abortion could ever become a thought. The message of human dignity and sexual integrity that The Culture Project so rightfully perpetuates amongst the youth, is where she found just that. “What if we were a part of Christ’s army? What if we became soldiers for Christ? If we equip ourselves daily with the weapon of the rosary, the shield of knowledge in the faith and the healer of all wounds, the Eucharist, there is no battle that we won’t win”

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