Written By: Jeff Craig
I want you to imagine right now that you are standing in an open room with white walls. Right in front of you stands a tall mirror. What do you see? What draws your attention? Do you recognize the person in front of you or do they appear as a stranger? The reflection in front of you is exactly who you are. It is literally a mirror copy of the physical manifestation of all that is you. There are no filters, no photoshop, no hiding. What you see in front of you is a raw and transparent embodiment of yourself.
A few years ago, I didn’t understand the concept of living a transparent life. I had grown up with the idea that in order to be accepted by others, I would need to adapt to my surroundings. I would need to change my behaviors to accommodate the expectations of others. I would need to show my best self and tuck my flaws safely away where no one could see them.
To my surprise, this technique worked out very well. I found myself making friends everywhere I went. It didn’t matter how different a certain group was, I could adapt with ease. Over time, I became a master chameleon, changing my colors whenever the situation called for it. After a while though, I started to notice that something was off. Although I got along with just about everyone I met, I never truly felt accepted. I felt alone. I felt that the people I knew only liked the person I was pretending to be instead of who I really was.
Then one day, while I was getting ready to go out for the night, I stood in front of the mirror in my bedroom. This time, I didn’t just look at myself, I looked through myself. I no longer recognized the person who stood before me. I had become a stranger. I hadn’t taken a close look at myself in several years and I had no idea who this person was. It was in this moment I realized that I had not been living as myself.
I started to look back at different moments of my life and recognized that I have been hiding who I was not only from those around me, but from myself as well. I envisioned this perfect persona of who I was supposed to be and lived as if I was that person, while at the same time, ignoring the truth of my own imperfections and flaws. I had adopted different behavior styles to gain acceptance from my peers or attraction from women all the while shutting the door on my true self.
I decided that it was time for a change. The only way I could feel truly accepted by others would be if I was willing to show them who I really was. It was time to remove the costumes I had been parading around in for so many years and present myself in my truest form. Suddenly, was overwhelmed with fear. What would people think of me? What if I am not accepted by my friends and the women I meet? The idea of rejection terrified me.
Then I looked back at my reflection in the mirror. In front of me I saw a man. I saw a man who has numerous flaws. I saw a man who has made many mistakes in life, who isn’t the physical epitome of perfection, who isn’t wealthy or extremely talented. But I also see a man who tries. Who despite all his mistakes, all his imperfections, all his short comings, gets up every day and tries again. I saw a man who appreciates life and those around him; A man who wants to share love with others; A man who has made it his life mission to change the world for the better. Most importantly, as I looked into the mirror, I saw a man who was deserving of love just as he is, flaws and all.
I had made the decision to live life as a transparent person. By transparent I mean being 100% who I am everywhere I go and in everything I do. There would be no more masks to hide behind, no more adapting to my environment. I would have to be completely open and exposed with everyone I came into contact with. It was quite risky making a decision that would leave me so vulnerable, but I knew if I was ever going to feel content with the person I saw in the mirror, I would have to be true to myself.
So, I started living as transparent as I could. The change didn’t happen over night. It is a hard habit to break when you have spent your whole life as someone you’re not. Over time, I slowly but surely began clearing the fog that was hiding my true self and eventually, I was able show everyone the man I saw in the mirror. It was then that I saw a surprising change.
Initially, my fear was that people wouldn’t like who I really was and would reject me. And sure enough, as I began living as a transparent person, many people in my life soon left. They saw who I really was and had no interest in being a part of my life. This was a hard thing to accept. No one likes being rejected, especially when we are being rejected for who we truly are. As my circle of friends began to dwindle, I began questioning if this was the right decision.
Then I noticed something incredible. There were still people who stuck around. After completely exposing the rawest part of who I was as a person, I still had people who were standing in my corner. And even more surprising, my relationships with these people became incredible strong. My friendships were no longer superficial or casual. They were deep, meaningful, and loving. The people who saw me for exactly who I was and stuck around accepted me and loved me even more. In fact, many of them felt relieved because they too were hiding their true selves and now felt comfortable being transparent with me.
The journey to becoming transparent was not easy. It took time and effort that I never thought would be necessary. There were some important lessons to be learned as I began to show the world my true reflection. Below are some important insights I had on my journey to becoming a transparent person.
In order to become transparent with others, you must first become transparent with yourself.
I did not recognize who I was as a person, so how could I possible show others who I truly was? In order to be my true self, I had to get to know my own reflection. I had to rediscover who I really was. I had to explore not only the good parts of myself, but the darkest parts as well. A lot of what helped me through this was something I called a Burn Journal.
I had used journals in the past, but found that my writings were often inauthentic. I would write as if someone else would be reading it later. To prevent this, I needed a mindset shift. So, I started writing journal entries with the soul intention of getting my thoughts out. I didn’t focus on organization, grammar, whit, or anything really. I would just spew out whatever was on my mind. The entries were not literary masterpieces, I assure you. After I finished a journal entry, I would read it to myself and then after, I would immediately burn it. This was a physical sign that no one could ever see what I wrote. It was a way for me to feel safe in being who I was with myself and myself alone. After some time, I became better acquainted with who I was, and although I became clear of my own faults, I was able to understand and accept myself regardless.
Allow yourself to be transparent with others.
Now that I had fully accepted myself, it was time to share who I was with others. This was the scary part. It was also extremely difficult. This involved breaking bad habits. I had to turn off my autopilot and consciously respond to my environment from a place that was truly authentic. Before speaking, I would give myself a 5 count in my head as I thought of my responses. In that time, I would construct a thought that was accurate to my true self. I would also challenge myself to be vulnerable with those around me by sharing my flaws, fears, and failures. And the hardest part was standing up for my convictions. When I felt someone was in the wrong, I had to be willing to speak up about it, whether they liked it or not. Over time, the old habits began to fade and I was able to be fully transparent with those around me.
Not everyone likes sushi
This lesson has nothing to do with food and everything to do with acceptance. Through my journey of living as an authentic person, I had to come to an important realization. There were going to be people who didn’t like who I truly was. It was a terrifying thought. No one likes to feel rejected, but this is the reality of our world. Out of several billion people on this planet, there are going to be people that don’t like who I am. Just as many people love eating sushi, there are also numerous people who absolutely hate it. This does not mean that sushi is bad. It simply means that different people enjoy different things. And some people may even love sushi, but can’t have it because they are allergic. We as people are very similar. Just because someone doesn’t like who you are, doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It simply means that you just aren’t their type of dish. Once you are able to accept the fact that not everyone will accept you for who you are, you are free to embrace the people who do. Despite the fact that many people dislike sushi, it is still one of the world’s most popular dishes. Remember that.
Allow those who stick around to be transparent with you
Once the fog had cleared and I was left with just those who still accepted me, I was faced with another lesson. I exposed myself to these people. I had shown them exactly who I was, flaws and all. They still stuck around. They still loved me. Now it was time to return the favor. There is this amazing chain reaction that occurs when we are authentic with others. They begin becoming authentic with us. This means that they feel comfortable showing us exactly who they are. It is through this experience that we see all their weakness and flaws. We are exposed to their truest self. It is important, vital even, that we show them the same love and compassion that has been shown to us. No one in this world is perfect. We all have flaws, fears, and failures. It is what makes us human. By embracing the person as who they are, something incredible happens. The bond between you and the other person becomes stronger, deeper, more meaningful. The walls have been taken down and two souls are finally let free. It is in these moments that true relationships are defined and solidified.
Learn to become transparent with everyone you meet
Once I was able to be authentic with those I cared most about, the next challenge was to be authentic with everyone else in my life. Those I was closest with already had a sense of who I was, but to strangers, I was a blank slate. I could pretend to be whoever I want with complete strangers. Being transparent with them was and still is the ultimate challenge. It is important to remember that there is not one person on this planet without flaw. Most people go through life just wanting to be loved and accepted. If I could be compassionate toward them, they have the potential to do the same for me. While some people may not like my authentic self, most people at least respect it.
By becoming transparent, I had lost a lot of “friends” but had gained some of the most powerful and meaningful relationships I have ever experienced. The best part was, I knew that those who were still by my side accepted me for who I was instead of who I was pretending to be. I no longer had to hide behind a mask. I was free to live as my true self, flaws and all. I was no longer weighed down by fears of rejection or judgment. Instead, I was free to look in the mirror and make peace with who was staring back at me.