The Importance of Being Ourselves

Have you ever admired someone so much that you trip over your words, behave in strange ways, and ultimately embarrass yourself while trying to be the person you THINK they want you to be? Have you ever looked up to someone with such reverence that you actually avoided being around them because you were afraid you might make a bad impression? Maybe you’ve tried too hard and walked away feeling inauthentic and even silly? If not, how lovely for you! 🙂 If so, then I want to tell you that you’re not alone and I want to encourage us all to be true to who we are regardless of our proximity to those we’ve placed on a pedestal.

My neurologist is a brilliant and lovely woman in her 30’s. Being her patient has me believing that I still have the opportunity to make something of myself, and that if I spend enough time with her I will acquire some of her success through osmosis. Early on in my treatment I was confident that one day we would tour the nation sharing her knowledge and my story while dramatically changing lives. (In an effort to be completely transparent about the level of my delusional day-dreaming, I must admit that I also believe if I ever met Steve Nash, Jewel, Brene’ Brown, or Jen Hatmaker, we would be BFFs).

Shortly after my future touring partner had her first baby, I went in for a quarterly appointment and had a bit of a cough. I spent the entire appointment feeling guilty that I was exposing her to my cold. I worried that my germs would be carried home to her newborn, and that in turn, the rapport we needed to establish prior to traveling the country with our transformative message would be hindered. The appointment was brief, and as she walked me out and shook my hand, I left her with this sound advice, “make sure you wash your hands!” Like a Jewish mother frantically calling her adult son on a Saturday afternoon insisting that he floss immediately because gum disease runs in the family or a Christian father telling his 30-something divorced daughter that no man will buy the cow if he can get the milk for free, I unnecessarily and unabashedly advised my doctor to wash her hands!

Whatever would she do without me and my sageness?

I was so embarrassed by my unnecessary counsel that at the next appointment (weeks later) I brought up the exchange and apologized for being thoughtlessly overbearing. Then, with all the accountability I could muster, I blamed my bossiness on my childhood. I explained, (in my defense) that I was the only girl of 4 children, and with 2 brothers 11 and 13 years older than me, I grew up with a lot of disciplinarians at home. Consequently, I turned to “leading” (or what others might unkindly and more accurately call bossing) the neighborhood kids. I’m told that I would direct everyone to sit in a line and then proceed to “teach” them. I can only imagine that these lessons included tips on how to avoid spankings, how to secretly feed your vegetables to the dog, and what to do when your parents threaten to “pull over the car!” After my sincere apology and lengthy justification, she assured me that she didn’t think a thing of it. Of course I knew the truth…I was convinced she had gone home that night and laughed with her husband about her “astute” patient who brilliantly encouraged her to wash her hands. I imagine their conversation snowballed into, “What would I have done without her keen instruction? I bet she counsels her pastor to pray, directs her therapist to meditate, and cautions her personal trainer to stay hydrated!”

As I received my treatment, I thought long and hard about how I could make light of our last encounter and “totally redeem myself!” This time, as my lovely doctor walked me out and shook my hand, I let my wit loose on her and said in what I think might’ve been an overly sultry voice, “and you can do whatever you want with your hands.”

In an effort to vindicate myself, I managed to unintentionally hit on my neurologist. Who does that!? Well….I do, obviously!

This is a light-hearted example, but what I’ve learned is that it rarely plays out well when we try to live up to the self-inflicted pressures of fitting in, impressing others, or trying to belong. We can avoid a lot of discomfort by resting in who we are and loving who we were made to be. As I allow myself to be the quirky, “helpful,” and sometimes sultry (ha) person that I am, I will build a community with people who appreciate those traits and allow me to lean in while fully belonging.

You are uniquely made and made to be you. You will experience true fellowship when you stop striving and start being. The impression you leave with your authentic self is so much more beautiful than the image you create when trying to impress.

Be you! You are enough!

Author: Renee Tumolo

Every moment in our lives (the mundane, the outlandish, the tragic, the joyful) changes us, and we are given the opportunity to determine what that change looks like. Will I allow this event to isolate me or strengthen my relationships, destroy my self-esteem or build my confidence, give me a critical heart or create wholeheartedness, plant deep-seeded anger or facilitate love? Throughout my life I've seen time and time again that if we are willing to share our stories with openness, vulnerability, and sincerity, we are given the opportunity to offer hope in the midst of the storm, laughter on the toughest days, and most importantly...compassion and connection in a time of loneliness. This is why I write. On a lighter note, when my husband read this he laughed and said, "You're like a giant blonde Buddah."

33 thoughts on “The Importance of Being Ourselves”

  1. Omg Renee’!! I love it! I literally laughed out loud throughout! You have such a flow with you’re writing and I love the intertwined humor! Of course I personally loved the reference to Steve Nash and Jewel! Lol Love it! I would read your blog even if I didn’t know you!! 🙂


    1. Thank you so much Emily for your encouragement and support! I’m happy if even one person got a good laugh! 🙂 Someday Steve and Jewel and I will have a party and you will be invited!


    1. Thank you Jen! I really appreciate your support and feedback! I’m excited to keep writing…please keep the comments coming! 🙂


  2. I enjoyed this a lot Renee !! It was like you were standing in my living room and telling your really funny story. Keep it up friend. There’s potential here.


    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog Terry and for your feedback. What you said about standing in your living room and telling my story is EXACTLY what I was going for when I decided to start this blog, so that meant a lot to me to hear! Your support and encouragement means the world!


  3. I have to say that your story telling is hilarious there is no better way to relay hilarity than to report on life’s passing moments!
    You reminde of one of my favorite authors; and if she were alive I am sure Erma would say; this girls got it!!
    Keep posting little miss Bossy and I’ll keep sharing!


    1. Ellen, thank you so very much for your support and encouragement! You are an incredibly special person in my life and I’m so thankful for you! I would LOVE to see you start a blog as I enjoy every FaceBook post you’ve ever written. You have a gift lady!!


  4. Renee,
    You are one of the best and strongest women that I have ever met. I’m so proud of you for turning these events into something positive. Though, I must admit that it is just like you to do so.


    1. Clarice, you are too sweet and I’m so thankful for your support and encouragement! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!


  5. This was so witty and refreshing and I just loved reading it. I see this is your first post – I’m eager to read more from you. Thanks to my cousin Kate for sharing your writing. Blogger to blogger – well done.


    1. Thank you so very much for the encouragement Chris! Hitting that “post” button was a scary and very naked moment! I’m thankful to have your support!


  6. So I confess to being that Jewish mother who told her son he should go to the dentist more often than every five years for a cleaning and maybe even floss, because his father has serious periodontal disease and has suffered from it since he was a young man. Parents do those silly things, like run interference and protect their children. This occurs even when their children are mature adults, well-educated and have children of their own. Unfortunately for the grown children, this will continue until their parents are no longer on this earth. As far as that conservative father who told his adult daughter about cows and milk, I wouldn’t rule out a liberal father doing the same thing. After all that “little” girl is his sun and moon. Finally, if your doctor has to be told to wash her hands, find another doctor.

    Great job Renee. Keep it up.


    1. Thanks Camille. I actually debated saying “any” father versus conservative father 🙂 I completely agree with you on that! Thankfully my doctor does not need to be told what she should do with her hands 🙂


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