The Striptease

Jun 27, 2015 by

“I want you to strip for me. First, take off your insecurities.”

– Unknown


          While listening to the Edge on the drive to work on Thursday morning, I caught excerpts of an interview about a new show called Alone. It’s about 10 people trying to survive island wilderness by themselves, without a team to work with and without a camera crew hanging out in the background. Five hundred thousand dollars goes to the person who can withstand the isolation the longest.

          In the interview, a member of the cast was asked if he came out of the experience a different person. In response, the cast member discussed wilderness therapy, a form of healing that temporarily removes people from society. From his experience alone on the island and his background in guiding wilderness therapy, he believes going into the wilderness changes people by helping them discover who they genuinely are. He went on to discuss the notion of showing up for society. Whether people notice it or not, how they present themselves is impacted by society’s expectations. When alone in the wilderness, however, people truly get to know themselves because there’s no one to show up for.

          This got me thinking back to the beginning of The Happiness Experiment. I was well aware that I had spent years showing up for society. I was depressed; just getting out of bed felt like a show. I was also well aware that I was wearing different masks for different people. I had gotten so used to faking being okay that I wasn’t sure who I was. I wasn’t clear on the real me. To be honest, I was terrified that the real me was the girl crying on the bathroom floor, but I wasn’t going to let myself continue to be her. A big goal of The Happiness Experiment, other than figuring out what makes me happy and inspiring others to do the same, was to get to know myself and to let other people get to know me too. Essentially, the goal was authenticity. I specifically remember telling myself that I would be to people – readers, friends, family, coworkers, society – who I am when I’m alone. I would be unapologetically myself in hope of motivating other people to be unapologetically themselves too.

          Discovering myself and being open about who I am changed the way I live. It’s made me unbelievably happy by ensuring that I am living by my own expectations, not by society’s flawed logic surrounding happiness and what comprises it. I gave myself my own permission to be imperfect. I was an extreme perfectionist before. I still have a tendency toward perfectionism that comes through in my annoyingly thorough attention to detail, but I’ve become much better at identifying perfectionist behaviour and trying to troubleshoot it. Perfectionism is a psychological disorder for good reason. It hugely impacts the way you present yourself to the world. It’s the reason I felt I had to look fine while I was deteriorating. It’s the reason I put on a show. It’s the reason I was insecure about being myself. Myself was not perfect. However, when I began The Happiness Experiment and promised myself authenticity with the aim of demonstrating what prioritizing and maintaining happiness is really like, I closed the curtain on my show. By refusing to continue giving the impression that I was fine, I chose to relay my life as it was. I was open about being unhappy and having no friends and feeling alone, and I was candid about the process of overcoming those challenges, including all the messy, unflattering parts. I met myself. I stripped down to who I was and I refused to put my clothes back on in public. As a result, I became very secure with who I am. I encourage you to do the same. Strip. Take off anything preventing you from being who you are.

Happiness Tip: Be to the world who you are when you’re alone.

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