It’s not easy for many people to be themselves. Completely themselves. Even those who claim to be themselves 100% of the time, have moments of holding back. Being ourselves seems to be situational. It depends where we are, what we’re doing, and who we’re with. That will alter the way we reveal ourselves to others, professionally and personally.
But that’s not always the best thing for us to do. By holding back or hiding parts of who we are, holds us back from opportunities, growth, and experiences. We’re not able to connect with others as deeply as we would if we were true to who we are. People do this because there seems to be risk in nonconforming. Not everyone wants to be different and stand out. Doing this may even cause friction for some. Because of this reality for people, they find it smarter and more comfortable to conform.
In 2013, a Deloitte study found a large number of people hide their identity to fit in. Of all employees surveyed, 61% admitted to changing an aspect in their behavior or appearance to fit in at work. Of the gay, lesbian, bisexual employees, 82% admitted to changing some aspect of themselves to appear less gay at work. The study found that even in companies with diversity policies and inclusion programs, employees struggle to be themselves because they believe conformity is their way to career advancement.
Silencing and hiding who you are actually has life or death consequences and long term social repercussions. The life expectancy for gay, lesbian, and bisexuals in highly anti-gay communities is 12 years shorter compared to those in accepting communities. The effects of personal stress and social stigma is a deadly combination. Gays in anti-gay communities had higher risk of heart disease, violence, and suicide.
Our biggest obstacles that we’ll have to face is our own fears and insecurities. By facing fears inside, we will be able to change reality outside. Who we are is a precious gift and we’re not meant to withhold it from the world. By being who we are, we can broaden the lives of others. The more people are exposed to differences, the more tolerant they become. By being yourself, you can change the way society accepts those who are different.
If you struggle with being yourself, hiding who you are, please contact Crownview Medical Group to get in touch with a trained professional who can help you build confidence in facing your inner fears.