Growing up I became a master compartmentalizer. I practiced and perfected compartmentalizing just as assiduously as my classmates worked on long division. I could shut out thoughts or whole experiences as swiftly as you might turn off the lights or pour a glass of milk. It was not my goal to excel at it, I didn’t want to grow up to be a master compartmentalizer like some kids wanted to be astronauts or sports stars. But when your father is sexually abusing you, compartmentalizing, and doing it damn well, is the only way to survive.
As I grew older, I began to see and feel the damage that constant compartmentalizing can bring. Shallow friendships, fear of taking risks, and missed opportunities to name a few. But looking back as a Trish who has far fewer compartments (Yay!) what I regret the most is never bringing my full self to whatever endeavor I pursued. Friendships, work, romance, community – I knew I had more “me” to share but never had the courage to bring my full-self to anything. I got lucky. I made it through. But I missed a lot along the way.
Your circumstances may not be as intense as mine, but today, I’d like to inspire you to bring your full self to wherever you are and whatever you are doing. You might be scared or nervous… I still am too! But the benefits of being you – all of you – shine light on the shadows of doubt and fear.
The Losses of Not Bringing Your Full Self
My entire life, I’ve been on a journey that started as not knowing who I was or who I wanted to be, to bringing my full self into every facet of my life. I’ve experienced the pain, the embarrassment, and the opportunities of learning how to do this with grace. And I’m still learning.
I’ve learned several things the hard way. By compartmentalizing as a young girl in survival mode, my sense of belonging was stripped away. I didn’t know how to belong because I didn’t know where I wanted to belong. That triggered a series of life decisions that nearly took my life.
While your circumstances may not be as extreme, not carrying your full self into every aspect of your life is affecting your relationships and decisions, whether you realize it or not. Let me give you a couple of my own personal examples that will shine light on the losses of not bringing your full self.
Trish Kendall At Work
As a young professional, I turned down social invitations from co-workers to get to know each other. They thought I was just “too busy” because that is what I told them. Or maybe they thought I was just not interested in getting to know them, because why wouldn’t they think that? In reality, I didn’t want to make up stories (which I had so many times before) when they would no doubt ask me all the ‘normal’ questions: where did I grow up? Where did I go to school? What sports did I play? My professional relationships were purely transactional and I kept them at arm’s length (maybe even farther) because I hid my full self from them. At that time in my life, I never truly felt like I belonged at work – how could I? You can’t belong where you aren’t known.
Trish Kendall in Love
While my now husband and I were dating we broke up several times but it’s the second time I remember the most. In what proved to be a very tough week, he came to my condo and told me that not only had a close friend of the family died and he needed to fly back home for the funeral, but also that his mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I could see pain in his face and feel the hurt in his heart. But what scared me the most is I could feel his need for comfort from me.
I got scared. It was clearly a moment that would bring us closer where I just needed to access my compartment of love and compassion and show it to him. I couldn’t. I told him I was sorry to hear about his loss, but I needed to go to work tomorrow (a Saturday) and good luck. He left and I thought I would never see or hear from him again. A heart wrenching loss but seemingly easier than accessing my compartment of love and compassion.
What about you?
When do you choose to not bring your full self? Are you a comedian at home but never crack a joke in the office? Do you try to keep the stress of work at work even though it affects your mood at home anyway? Do you hold yourself back from asking for help? Take a moment to think about your life: assess your compartments and acknowledge the losses. Once you’ve done that, you can embrace the opportunities that bringing your full self will create.
Embracing the Opportunities
I don’t want anyone who follows me to think I have it all together. I am continually learning how to bring all of myself into every aspect of my life regardless of fear. For example, I’m still apprehensive in some scenarios to tell people about this inspirational-focused track of my business. It is much easier to only share one track–that I help companies develop higher performing client relationship teams . . . versus, oh, and I inspire individuals to choose love! But more often, I am choosing to let these two tracks intersect–embracing the opportunities of bringing my full-self to my business.
I know you can do it too.
As you contemplate bringing your full self to every aspect of your life, consider these opportunities that present themselves when you decide to embrace it:
- Showing up as your full self, even a little bit more, allows the other person to have a connection point with you that they didn’t realize was there before.
- When you decide to bring your full self, it elevates those around you. It gives that person permission to do the same.
- You will feel more ‘you,’ and the other person can feel it and can relax.
- You will feel more fulfilled, and the other person might feel a little honored that you chose to be yourself around them. Your relationships will grow from this!
- When you are your full self, you are embracing authenticity. Authenticity is a trait that reaps many benefits, from self-satisfaction to becoming a better leader.
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis, which sums up the ‘why” of embracing and bringing your full self to wherever you are.
Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.
… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Inspire Your Team To Bring Their Full Selves
75% of employees say they want their coworkers to share more about their true selves. Trish Kendall is an expert on belonging and authenticity who would love to inspire and motivate your team to bring their full selves and embrace the opportunities. Book Trish Kendall to speak today!
“You are the most successful person I know. Truly amazed and inspired by you. Thank you so much for showing up so fully and openly tonight. You are brilliant!”Arielle Fuller, Parlay House Chief Relationship Officer