This week I have been reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. In it, she talks about how difficult it is to be true to ourselves, to be authentic, and to avoid feeling shame for not living up to our own unrealistic, perfectionist expectations. This book has come at the perfect time for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling with a disconnect between the life they are living and the live they want to live. Brown defines this challenge as being part of the human desire to belong and to be loved, which are essential for happiness. Tue belonging is scary, however, because we need to be our true selves and be accepted for who we really are to feel that we are loved and that we belong. Instead of seeking this connection, most of us (myself included) seek acceptance instead, and mold and shape our thoughts, feelings, and actions to meet the expectations of others in order to fit in and to avoid the risk of judgement or feeling different or like an outsider. This week I'm thinking about the importance of recognizing and becoming my true self. The hardest part of this journey, for me, is the realization that I haven't been true to myself for a long time. It has been hard for me to realize that, just because I am good at something and receive praise and accolade for it, doesn't mean it is truly, authentically what I really want to do. It is painful to recognize that I have been denying myself the privilege of making my own dreams come true because I didn't (and still don't completely) believe in my own worthiness to experience happiness, fulfillment and joy. But the first step to changing this mindset is recognizing where I am and beginning to explore where I want to be. As Brown says, living a "wholehearted life" is a journey, not a destination, and part of that journey is having compassion for ourselves and letting go of the toxic desire for perfection.