Can I get an “amen!” if you ever feel insecure? ‘Cause I pretty much do every single day! The “real world” can rob us of our true identities so lately, I’ve become determined to steal mine back.

A black friend recently told me that he’s been categorized as an “Oreo” his entire life for his interest in skateboarding, graffiti and punk rock.

Another pal, an introvert, is constantly chastised in social situations. People automatically assume this sweet beauty is a snob.

My neighbor admitted the other night that it took her until age 40 to fully embrace her looks. While her exotic features are now a total man magnet, for years she felt inferior to her classically beautiful sister.

I, on the other hand, acted like a hard ass after hearing “You’re so sensitive!” too many times.

My mom met with a famous psychic when she was six months pregnant with me. The woman laid her hand on my mother’s belly and said something along the lines of, “This one is going to be a real game changer.” I’m pretty sure I was born with karmic baggage because I feel more childlike now than I did as a kid. Back then, I regularly had moments of deja vu where I would think, “I have to deal with this crap again?”

Early on, I developed people pleasing tendencies because of the stress around me. I was a therapist, child and friend who did her best to never piss anyone off. Yet, by late high school I became a total hell raiser.

Drinking was how I blew off steam and I soon found that I was able to burn the candle at both ends. I waitressed from age 18 on, which is an easy industry to become jaded in. The service industry combined with the Chicago Public School system can certainly be credited for making me a little more callous.

My dad was never a consistent figure in my life and therefore, I had very little understanding of how the male species worked. Dating was a total disaster. I was someone who desperately wanted to wear her heart on her sleeve yet too terrified of having it mistreated for the millionth time.

All of these experiences made me a natural character actor, as my coach pointed out on yesterday. When your own skin itches it’s much more comfortable to jump into someone else’s.

So this chameleon tried on many personas including space cadet, Sporty Spice, beer slingin’ bartender, sober sister, journalist, and starving artist. Those years pushed me farther and farther away from Lily. Especially when I moved to Music City.

In my first month here, I was told that I walked and talked too fast, cursed way too much, and needed to grow out my hair because I looked like a lesbian. (REALLY?!?!?! Seen as a cruel joke to this boy-crazy fool.) I felt like I was in high school once again and had to adapt to my new scenery. I did what I had to do in order to thrive, which was seriously tone it down.

Yet, three years later I had completely lost myself.

“You’re much darker than you let on,” said my acting coach after we had run through a comedic scene one day. “And your real voice is a lot deeper, rather than this squeaky, high-pitched octave you sometimes adopt.” I was unable to get into the character she had assigned me. This woman was someone who wouldn’t take shit from anyone yet I sounded like a little girl every time I read my lines.

“Tap into that tough Chicago chick I know has been cussing, pounding the pavement and hustling since birth!” she demanded.

In that moment something inside of me snapped. I felt naked the entire walk home from her loft.

As I walked home, I envisioned the way I really wanted my life to look. No wonder I wasn’t getting everything on my wish life. I wasn’t taking care of #1 — me.

It was time to bridge that disconnect.

So I started living in Lilyland all of the time. And the more I embraced my inner weirdo, soulmate friends started to surround me. Not only did they accept and love my quirks, but I started to as well.

Because hell, once you look yourself in the face it’s impossible to turn back. If you don’t like you then who else is going to?


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