Please sir/ma’am, may I?

Permission and approval.

How do those two words make you feel? What thoughts come to mind? A good friend of mine and I were having a conversation about this recently. Many of us may not be aware of this but we’re holding back from being who we really are (fully and completely) or doing what we really want to do because we are waiting for someone’s permission and approval. For someone to say “Yes, you may go ahead and do that.” Many of us for example are in certain careers because society has given its permission. Those career paths are “approved of”. I went for the comedy festival here in Melbourne some years ago and a comedian said he loved Melbourne because we “all looked like we’d dressed out of the same box”. Off course the crowd laughed, so did I. But it also made me think. Most of us do tend to  dress alike. I once worked with a girl who had a brilliant and quirky sense of fashion. She told me she’d actually been given the tut-tut (the sense of “who do you think you are?!”) by workmates so she toned down her look.

These are some of the things that cause us to stall/ delay, or perhaps even stop doing what we truly want to do. Stop us from being who we really are – fully and completely.  At first blush what comes to mind is wanting approval. But dig deeper and it’s apparent that it also comes down to waiting for permission. Even as adults, without realising it, a part of us is waiting for permission from someone physically around like our parents or our family. Sometimes even our friendship groups, and certainly permission from  society. Linked to that is “not wanting to rock the boat” or “being afraid of losing people who are close to us” if we dare to be ourselves (and thus different).

I believe this is the reason we admire some of the people we do. The risk-takers we call them. They go ahead and do what they want, and there’s something about that that we admire – be it in business or whatever other endeavour. I have a theory too about why some accomplished businessmen and women don’t wear power suits. They don’t care about impressing you with how they look. What matters is their purpose and their mission. And wearing jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t diminish that. They are not waiting for your permission, or your approval. Those who are interested will come, and usually eventually, everyone else follows.

The truth is, there is (paradoxically) abit of a formula in the journey of being true to yourself and being yourself. By that I mean, yes, it can be predicted that you will upset some people. Happens all the time. Yes, it can be predicted that by being yourself you will irk some people. Happens all the time. Your courage and uniqueness triggers something in them – perhaps a stark reminder that they are towing the line and not pursuing their own dreams. You never know, you may even remind them of someone they know who also chose the less trodden path. Yes, it can be predicted that some friendships will not survive the change. It’s only natural. You are evolving, you are becoming different. The similarities that drew you together are not there any more. Yes, others will completely surprise you and encourage you to go for it. Many of these people will be acquaintances that you can now form friendships with. Happens all the time.

But here’s the best news – where you’re going – there will be other people there. New friends, new experiences, new acquaintances who are at this new level you are playing in. And this is what many of us forget. You are not alone, and you won’t be. There may be moments of aloneness as you go inwards and reconfigure your identity, but take it from me, where you’re going there are others waiting. And when you evolve again, the same thing will happen all over again.

The society we will live in unfortunately does not encourage uniqueness. Being yourself gets rewarded sometimes, but often the same people that are admired for daring to be themselves (and thus different) then get torn down. And nowadays this plays out in public for all to see in the media. I think this contributes to the fear we have of breaking out and being yourself. So it takes bucket-loads of courage to do so. But it also takes bucket-loads of energy (and the fear of being found out) to keep up your act. Unfortunately other emotions like anger and resentment can brew when we feel we aren’t being “allowed to be ourselves” by others. But you’re a grown-up now. Isn’t it time you took responsibility and stopped waiting for permission?

Do yourself a favour today and give yourself the permission. Give yourself permission and watch for the wonderful new experiences coming your way. You can also check out books like “Do You” by Russell Simmons.

Got a comment to share? Do so in the comments section. Remember, you have something of value to share and others may just need to hear it.



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