Are you under the influence?
In a world where we are constantly being shown subtle and overt messages about how to think, how to act, where to shop, what to buy, what to eat, what music to listen to, where to travel, and how to live your life, it can be challenging to disassociate what’s real and true for you from what is a repetitive visual your brain has been stimulated with to the point of thinking:
I need this.
Some messages are obvious - I’m certainly guilty of the blatant #ad or sponsored post. They are easily discernible as a bias towards a product or service. You see it, imagine your life with the product, and are persuaded to swipe up because, hey, 15% off will take care of shipping costs.
Other messages are nuanced. The influencer attending a workout studio or using phrases like “lit” or “woke.” Before you know it, you find yourself signing up for that class or telling your partner how woke last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live was.
Now, this isn’t a call to reject the influencer space, instead it is an invitation to reflect on how much of your lifestyle has been influenced by social media, influencers and the trendy “highlight reel.”
Over the past week, I was given the opportunity to do a #digitaldetox. Well, if you can count camping for 48 hours with zero cell service 75 miles north and south of me a detox. More than anything, it was a detox from the city of Los Angeles and all of it’s trendy overpriced spandex, fit models, and Instagram stories running through yoga and workout studios.
As I sat around the fire with my husband, I could hear myself actually thinking. Not Ava, the one that takes selfies in the studio mirror before, during and after class. Or Ava, the one that just “has to have” retro sneakers.
It was Ava: soft, goofy, contemplative, and completely free of this exhausting desire to “keep up.”
I realized how different this voice sounded than the one that loops in my brain when I’m in the city. I wasn’t thinking about creating content, my next big project, or ways to engage. I wasn’t thinking about what I said to so-and-so or why I wasn’t invited to a brand event.
Instead, I was thinking about how energized I felt. How my mind felt free of a desire to fit in, say the right thing, wear the right outfit, or drink the most hip coffee. I felt liberated and clear of influence and could see from the outside looking in how drained it has been making me feel.
Throughout the remainder of the trip I continued to explore this side of myself - my true self - and found that my energy had been in a constant state of fight or flight. I feared so deeply that I wouldn’t be accepted, that I wouldn’t fit in, and that I wouldn’t be deemed “cool” by those that I had given the power and title of “cool” to. For the first time, I felt my body take a giant exhale and relax as if I was removing the layers of makeup and masks that I had piled on in hopes of being worthy.
In doing so, I heard loud and clear my intuition speak wisdom that conforming was only keeping me small. My overly-influenced life was minimizing my bigness and robbing me of my true creative power.
I may have made it far despite my habitual chameleon-esque behavior, but if I really wanted to experience my soul’s purpose in it’s fullest, it would be necessary to shed what was never really me.
It took disconnecting from it all to reconnect to myself. To reinstate confidence in myself. Not the Self that is self-serving and ego-driven, indulging in material gain. The Self that is here in service and fired up to speak the truth about the power that comes from within - not without.
I don’t know how it will all pan out, but what I do know is this:
Trying to be anything that you are not will work - but it will not be true and authentic to you. It will rob you of your precious energy and keep you out of alignment with truly stepping into your purpose. When you warp yourself into what you think is socially acceptable you minimize your bigness.
So much of what I saw was my desire to socially shift myself into what I thought was welcomed and accepted, but what I realized was how desperate my energy felt and how it was so out of alignment with everything I know in my heart and soul to be true.
I know we are all just looking to find community and acceptance. But when that acceptance is fueled by the material, the indulgence, the “look at me and all my accomplishments” attitude - which is all just smoke and mirrors - it doesn’t really exist. It’s unattainable and can keep us in this intense state of fight or flight where we are fighting for our survival and acceptance in this skewed world based off of a curated reality.
The more you step away from the desire to mold yourself into what everyone else is doing, wearing, thinking, and acting, the more you can connect to your true power. The more you can see what you actually want to do. What you actually want to wear. What you actually want to eat. Exercise, listen to, believe, etc.
I know that when I do disconnect, I feel tapped in. Through that I can see my desire to instead promote fullness - not emptiness and more lust in other people. I want to inspire and light up pathways in people’s brains that make them feel energized, empowered and full - not searching, hopeless, and deluded in the same way many other influencers make me feel.
The next time I feel myself drained or see the scales of my chameleon behavior start to shift, I’ll be asking myself: Is this true? Is this true to me or is this true to them?
I’m also majorly revising my list of expanders and those that inspire me. I’m not guiding it off of success and accomplishment anymore. Instead, I’m looking to those that are uniquely and unapologetically themselves. Those that make quirky “cool” and inspire me to be ME, not a poor man’s version of someone else.
There’s no “5 steps” or practices in this post beside those two exercises I’ll be doing with myself. If it resonates with you, try it out as well and see if there are areas where you’ve been less of yourself and more of someone else. I know in my own life that the more I shed light on inauthenticity, the more opportunity I have to thrive as me. Quirky, contemplative, silly, ME.
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