I have tried to change how I look since my ballet teacher kicked me out of class for being too fat.
I have tried to change how much I could produce in business school. I also tried the “play hard and party hard” lifestyle—just to end up on probation and almost kicked out.
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I have fallen on my face trying to change in a relationship, so I would stop coming across as too emotional.
I have promised my mother, my neighbor, and the boss I never respected that I would change.
I have written about ways to change myself with every goddamn New Year’s resolution.
I have even bought programs that will help me change into a morning person, a runner, a chill-ass girlfriend every man and woman wants to marry, an on-time professional—you name it. I have read your stupid lists on Medium on what to change to be happier, more productive, more successful—more like this Medium imaginary hero that does not exist.
Guess what? I did not change.
Maybe I did change for a day or a week. But over the long term, what really happened is that I grew more frustrated with myself, with life, with humans, and even with dogs and cats. I became angry, bitter, sour.
Here is the deal:
I stopped wanting to change myself.
Instead, I began becoming more myself. I began shedding all the layers of bullsh*t that I have accumulated that are not mine. I began melting all the walls of expectations that I have constructed because I thought I was not perfect for you—teacher, boss, investor, mister.
I finally embraced the artist in me that has been yelling for attention. The wild woman that wants to speak her truth no matter what they say. The human that wants to cry about life’s miseries and fall in love with life’s secrets and treasures.
I accepted that I will not run marathons or have a zero-argument relationship. That I will not have my sh*t together 50 percent of the time. I let go of the need to be successful on paper; have a family and kids by a certain age; fit in America, where I live or Lebanon, where I come from.
And then magic happened.
I started working out five days a week; I even ran two legitimate miles (with hills and everything). I started saying “no” more, which meant no more overbooking myself and instead showing up on time.
I wrote like there was no tomorrow. I wrote poetry every day because I stopped working my ass off to be on a page of some stupid magazine that no one reads beyond its title. My poetry and writing were published only when I stopped caring if if they would be.
I am doing all the things that I said I wanted to do when I meet that life partner—alone. Because it does not matter. (P.S. Where the hell are you, life partner?)
Listen. You have so much potential within you—so many gifts it will blow your mind. So stop landfilling your soul. Stop overcrowding your genius. Get naked with yourself. Look in the mirror.
This is it.
Be naked. Live naked. Thrive naked. Fly naked. We all love you more when you are naked.
This post originally appeared on Medium and was republished with the author’s permission. Jessica Semaan is the founder of The Passion Co. and is on a mission to help others find their passion. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and sign up for her biweekly newsletter here.