The antidote to being fake

I often get nervous before social gatherings.

What's that about? I've been asking myself. Is it fear of rejection? Fear of embarrassment? Fear of the unknown?

Yes to all of those, for sure. But most often, what has been coming up lately is this: I am afraid that I will be fake. 

Maybe I'll meet someone I don't like, but pretend to like them. Or not remember someone's name or face, but pretend that I do. Or someone will ask how I'm doing and I'll pretend life is different than it is. Or maybe they'll complain about something that doesn't bother me, and I'll pretend to agree with them. Or I will stay quiet when really there's something I'd like to say.

In other words, I am afraid that I will be put in a situation where it doesn't feel okay to be me, and that in my fear, I will betray myself. Self-betrayal feels awful.

The cool thing is, once I notice the fear, the cure is a simple reminder: It is okay to be me.

It is okay to be who I am. It is okay to look the way I look. It is okay to want what I want, and fear what I fear. It's okay to know what I know, and also okay not to know. It's okay to like myself. It's also okay to judge myself. It's even okay to be fake. All of it is okay.

It's only when I decide some part of me is not okay that I get lured into pretending to be something that I'm not.

Maria Salomão-Schmidt likes to say, "Be full of yourself," which I love. It runs counter to how I was socialized, but really, who else should I be full of, if not me? Who else but myself could I be full of? Isn't that the key to happiness, to experience what it's like to be fully me?

What about you? How do you deal with social anxiety? Can you relate to the discomfort of being fake? How do you fill up on yourself when you're empty?

Here's to all of us being a little more real.