It seems to be a fairly common, well-known rule that first impressions are typically made within the first 30 to 60 seconds of meeting someone. It’s also a well-known fact that body and facial appearance play a powerful role in how one is treated, and that as we age, we become less desirable, therefore treated with less interest, and even at times, diminished respect. I too have been guilty of this nearsightedness due to my own fears of bringing forth and facing my perceived inadequacies. I often felt, when meeting with someone for the first time, that if I were honest about who I was and where I came from, that I would appear weak – just adding to my already crippling feelings of not being enough.

By embarking on my own inner self-examination and allowing the REAL me to surface, I have discovered the parts of my soul that have been buried beneath a lifetime of others’ projections– projections that I had taken on as my own, starting from a very young age. I wanted more than anything to fit in and be considered normal…whatever that means. However, I wasn’t created to blend in. I now know that a part of my mission is to stand out and show others the way to self-acceptance.

In doing this inner work, I have become more conscious than in the past of judging others by their outward appearance and that what we see on the outside of an individual is typically a very superficial, at times guarded, presentation of the true person who lies beneath the veneer. Many of us have even developed a social mask that is the polar opposite of who we are at a deeper level. When we aren’t sincere in how we present ourselves and our true intentions, there cannot be a meaningful connection. We are all vibrational beings and we can sense when something is off, even if we don’t understand it or are aware of it on a conscious level.

As a woman, I don’t think I ever remember a time when I didn’t feel I was being constantly evaluated or looked over in some manner. This painful appraisal of my appearance, my home, the neighborhood I grew up in, my car, my clothes, my education, and as I got older, the letters (or lack thereof) next to my name on a business card were a perpetual reminder (to my inner critic and / or to others) that I wasn’t enough.

From toddlerhood to adulthood, this very unconscious realization kept me separated from the person I was deep down, and painfully so. It was as if I were a doll that absorbed the familial, environmental and cultural projections of who I should be in order to fit in. The projections also came from my own twisted ideas absorbed from watching television, reading magazines and advertisements, participating in school and sports and other social interactions.

I constantly and consistently rejected who I was at the core of my being and in doing so I was also (very unconsciously) rejecting my creator. How could I believe that I had been brought into existence by an all-powerful and loving Divine Being when I didn’t feel a sense of belonging, of value, or of true love for myself? This belief kept me trapped – separated – not only from my true self but from the spiritual inheritance we all have access to, no matter who we are or what we’ve done in this lifetime.

At the root of this story I’m telling you is a personal experience I recently had that has compelled me to write this and share.

About 2 ½ years ago, I started to wear a wig due to severe hair loss induced from long-term stress. The type of stress I was under caused physiological changes that had a domino effect in my body. This type of stress causes hormone levels to increase, throwing the body out of balance. And as if things weren’t bad enough, the stress of standing at the mirror every morning and seeing less and less hair on my head, coupled with my feelings of inadequacy and my lack of identity, made me begin to use a wig. It was my cover to mask my shame.

I wanted so much to fit into the mainstream and did not want to be counted among the many women who suffer from this condition. I used to look at these women and feel compassion for their misfortune, and now I was one of them. I always had a full head of hair that I did not appreciate or like much. It was always very curly and unruly, and when I was a child, my mother didn’t want to bother with it so she kept it short. I was one of those girly girls who loved having her hair done in buns and ringlets, but there was no one who made much of a fuss over it.

As I got into my teens and adulthood, I struggled with my hair constantly. I was always envious of women who could wash their hair and go. I always felt I had to make mine look perfect before going anywhere, but it would frizz immediately from the humidity anyway. When I was in Junior High School I used to get up at five o’clock in the morning to wash, set and dry my hair with a cap style hairdryer. I was also known to wear a large roller to bed – only able to sleep on my stomach, face down. I even chose to live in areas where there was less humidity so that my hair would be more manageable. This is how obsessed I was with how I believed I should look and how I thought others perceived me.

I now know that, at some point in my early childhood, I took on a belief that I wasn’t like everyone else and that I should have straight blond hair. I went to GREAT lengths to make this happen. And instead my hair fell out.

As I initially wrote this, I had an epiphany that there was a much more profound reason for sharing this story with you. My sense is that losing my hair was a turning point for me in my journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance. And my sharing it with you is my way of showing you how undertaking such a journey for yourself will be a transcendent experience.

Transcending these deeply rooted beliefs I had about myself took work but was well worth the effort. Doing the work encouraged me to find the answers within my own body and mind that would shatter the illusion of who I thought I was or needed to be versus who I am at the soul level. I now know that I am a Divine being, capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit for.

Does this mean I believe this wholeheartedly or that I don’t struggle with these issues anymore? No, I still confront feelings of inadequacy almost daily as the layers of these deeply rooted beliefs come off one by one like sheets of paper in a very large ream.

And now my soul has urged me to share my very personal experiences with you in the hope that you too will have the courage to share your own journey with me – whatever your story or your past experiences have been. There has never been a better time to explore the ways in which you may be camouflaging your true identity – separating you from the Divine being you are meant to be.

I invite you to become a part of the community. Join the conversation and share your story as it relates to the ideas in “our” blog.