Be Who You Are

by Lisa Hanny @lhannay1

Recently at the #WomenEd book launch for our second book Being 10% Braver I was talking about my hopes for my chapter. There are loads of reasons I wrote my chapter but really the ultimate reason was to loosen the grip that shame often has on my heart and soul.

I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Over the years I have written about coming out, about my alcoholism, my struggles with my mental health and I often alluded to the shame that comes alongside. The shame grows when we keep these parts of ourselves in the dark. We start listening to the messages that we aren’t good enough, that we are not worthy of accolades, promotions or rewards. We live in fear that we will be discovered or that our 'dark pasts' will be revealed.

Sometimes we turn to shame gurus like Brene Brown to help us let go. We rumble and wrestle in the arena with our shame as Brene describes it. We might also lean in to our vulnerability and network with others walking the same path as Sheryl Sandberg suggests.

However at the end of the day, late at night snuggled in our duvets we are who we are. I have learned that leaning on experts helps a little, leaning into networks helps a little more. Leaning into myself? Accepting myself? That helps the most.

I am a woman who identifies as a lesbian. I struggle with depression. I drank for many years to cope with what I had painted as deep dark secrets. Except that these pieces of myself aren’t dark anymore. I talk about them. I share them. Everytime I do, the shame drops off little by little. People will still be people and some won’t see what I see or know what I know. I see a woman who put one foot in front of the other and kept going. I see courage. I see vulnerability that grows into strength.

All of you who read this have this courage as well. Your struggles are yours. Your victories over these struggles are yours. You have inside of you all that you need to wrestle, rumble and conquer what keeps you feeling small.

Be who you are. We are where we are because we have struggled. We are who we are because our secrets are now stories. Tell your story. Be who you are

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