"If my personal experience tells me anything, just because you were born into your skin doesn’t mean that it will take care of itself or you’ll necessarily feel at home in it. Like any worth while goal in life, being truly comfortable in your skin and showing up in an authentic way in different situations takes practice and effort. Here are a few ways to practice..."
I did the 23andMe genetics test and now get a kick out of the email alerts they send me. Apparently, my DNA suggests that I would prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate. I’m also generally more likely to get bitten by mosquitoes. I wish they would let me know what my genes say about awkwardness.
I’ve always had the suspicion that I am naturally an awkward person. I often find myself in situations where for no good reason, I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I envy “cool” people not for their appearance but for ease and swagger. For example, I’m not easily impressed by people who look flawlessly put together or have perfect skin, but I’m regularly in awe of people who despite not being outwardly indefectible, exude grace, comfort and elegance. Nothing is more alluring than people who somehow manage to display a relaxed confidence and can just be themselves even in challenging situations.
The journey towards becoming more comfortable in one’s skin has multiple facets. It takes internal and external work. For example, working on your narratives, inner peace, anxiety, all are necessary inner work to feel more comfortable in your skin. Externally, you want to look authentic, healthy and vibrant, so maintaining a daily skincare routine would be an example of external efforts that can help in this regard.
In this article though, instead of focusing on general concepts or principles around feeling comfortable in your skin, I want to break it down and suggest practical ways to enhance that level of ease in being you. Just like public speaking, in order to become cool as a cucumber, you need to know the substance and also practice a lot too. Translated to being comfortable in your skin, we need to practice being our true selves and also knowing how to be with ourselves in all sorts of situations. Below are some real life exercises that have helped me:
- Put yourself in situations where you don’t feel comfortable and practice being at ease with yourself: examples are networking a room, public speaking, eating alone…instead of trying to put on a mask or find a quick hack, just try being your natural self and speak and act authentically.
- Wearing no makeup or not dressing up: this gives you an opportunity to be you without any help from exterior armor like makeup, clothes or accessories. It helps to build confidence from within, instead of chasing confidence that comes from outside validation.
- Power posing: power poses are body postures held in private for a minute or two, prior to an intimidating situation, that can help increase confidence and presence. I love doing the “star pose” or "wonder woman pose" during my morning routine to set the tone for the day. Studies show that if you act powerfully, you will begin to think powerfully.
- Public dancing or movement: if you want to feel comfortable in your skin, you need to feel grounded and in tune with your limbs. I hate public dancing but will do it once in a while just to make sure I don’t lose that mind-body fluidity.
If my personal experience tells me anything, just because you were born into your skin doesn’t mean that it will take care of itself or you’ll necessarily feel home in it. Like any worth while goal in life, being truly comfortable in your skin and showing up in an authentic way in different situations takes practice and effort. Try a few of these suggestions and see how you might be able to develop your own flow, rhythm and swagger regardless of the curve balls life throws your way.