As you guys know, I am all about being your true self at all times. Whether that means posting goofy makeup-free selfies or listening to my body when it’s craving a certain food or type of movement, I try to keep it real and be myself every single day.
I always encourage others to be their true selves too, which is why the last few weeks have been so interesting to me. Lately there’s been a higher-than-average amount of media attention praising the bravery of individuals willing to be who they truly are. As a result, I think more people than ever are feeling encouraged to be completely authentic. But being real isn’t always easy; we live in a world of filters and retouching, there’s so much pressure to be “perfect” and “happy” at all times. It can be tempting to curate our social media content in a way that’s flattering to our looks and our lifestyle.
That’s why I was so blown away by a story I recently read on Seventeen.com, about a teenage dancer named EmJ who is sharing her lifelong struggle with a debilitating illness called Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome, or EDS. The genetic disorder makes her joints hyper-flexible (great for dance!), but all that extended movement leads to frequent injuries and crushing fatigue. As you can imagine, it also left her feeling really isolated. She did everything she could to avoid talking about her condition with peers and classmates. She even hid her condition and downplayed everything she was going through on her social media so friends and peers wouldn’t know. She says dance was the only thing that really got her out of bed (girl after my own heart), but being honest with everyone about how hard it was to really make it through each day just seemed way too scary.
Today EmJ’s being real. She came out and wrote about all the difficulties she faces, and how the disease has robbed her of certain “normal” teen experiences. And according to EmJ, coming clean and speaking out means more to her than just getting her truth out; it means helping others stay true to who they are too. “It’s not just about me and my experience with EDS,” EmJ writes. “It’s about all the people out there struggling with issues that aren’t always visible on the surface. Staying silent means things continue to get misunderstood.”
Inspired by EmJ and all the other people out there brave enough to be themselves, I’m challenging all of us to be our true selves this week, too. What does being true to yourself mean to you? Does it mean leaving the mascara at home and letting your beautiful, natural lashes shine? Does it mean standing up for something you believe in, and making your voice heard? Whatever it means to you to be completely honest, real, and true, I challenge you to get out there and do it. And don’t let me miss all the fun—snap a pic of your bold statement, declaration or move and hashtag it #trueself. Can’t wait to see all the beauty, bravery, and honesty you share!
Photo Credit: Tom Jones Photography