This week I am going back home to visit friends and family in the small town where I grew up. I couldn’t wait to leave Haines City, Florida 28 years ago to seek a more refined and sophisticated way of life. I was eager to find myself, but somewhere along the way I lost myself in the process.
I think it all started when I decided to open my own business in 1998. I set some lofty goals and worked hard to become a well-known etiquette expert. Little did I know that fame would come with a price. I lost touch with the child (and the artist) within.
I spent years polishing my image like Eliza Doolittle does in the movie, My Fair Lady. I learned to behave in a way that adults are expected to behave in a world of political correctness. The pedestal that I built for myself unknowingly created distance and loneliness.
I polished myself just as I would polish a fine, heirloom piece of sterling silver. I wanted to buff away the tarnish – the parts of my personality that I thought were flawed and unappealing. Now I know better. It’s the dark, rough edges that give us character and make us real and relatable. Everyone has tarnish. I was good at camouflaging mine. I eventually learned that too much polish can appear artificial and ultimately turn people away.
In order to teach others how to be more authentic I had to connect with my own authenticity. Each day I strive to show the world the real me — the person who is caring, loving, generous, and has a wacky sense of humor.
I want to play and be silly and laugh and snort and sing. I want to write more and share what’s going on in my life and not worry about embarrassing myself. I want to be honest and uninhibited and take the filters off whenever I feel like it.
It took years to appreciate where I came from. I’m grateful to be going home to a place where people love and accept me for who I am along with all my imperfections. That’s a great feeling.