The danger of hiding who you are.

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Do you share your true self with the world?

Or do you hold part of yourself back, hidden for fear you may be judged, ridiculed, gossiped about or even discriminated against?

Have you ever changed your behaviour or appearance to fit?

It’s a sad fact that many of us hide at least some part of ourselves out of fear. I know I have absolutely done that and still do. As I wrote in the blog post last week, “Turn Girl Hate to Girl Love“, I have been judged by other women in the past, and because of that I consciously hide parts of myself.

But by doing that am I doing myself, the world a disservice?

A 2013 Deloitte study found that a surprisingly large number of people hide aspects of their identity. Of all the employees they surveyed, 61 percent reported changing an aspect of their behavior or their appearance in order to fit in at work.

The study found that even in companies with diversity policies and inclusion programs, employees struggle to be themselves at work because they believe conformity is critical to their long-term career advancement.

But by hiding our true selves we are doing the world a disservice.

Morgana Bailey, has been hiding her true self for 16 years. In her brave TED Talk (watch below), Morgana utters four words that might not seem like a big deal to some, but to her have been paralyzing.

But she decided it was time to speak up and speak out, because by doing so, she can make a difference in the world. She realised too late that keeping silent and hiding her true self may have inadvertently contributed to this exact same environment and atmosphere of discrimination. 

Morgana realized that her silence had personal, professional and societal consequences.

In front of an audience of her co-workers, she reflects on what it means to fear the judgment of others, and how it makes us judge ourselves. 

Morgana is one brave, inspirational woman. It takes courage to stand before your peers, your colleagues, your family and your friends and reveal all of you.

But she has inspired me to be aware of when I am not being my true self and to live authentically. By doing that, I may be making a difference in the world too.

So now I ask you…what are you hiding about yourself?

And I challenge you to consider making the choice to reveal YOU…for you may be helping and inspiring someone else.

International Womens’ Day is approaching quickly, and this year The Sista Code is sponsoring a prize at the Hunter Diversity Awards. As such, diversity and equality has been front of mind for me for the last few weeks.
I believe revealing our beautiful, glorious, true selves is the first step to truly recognising and embracing diversity.
Mel xx

Melissa Histon

Photographer, philanthropist, adventurer, blogger, avid permitter and social changer, Melissa Histon is a woman on a mission to make a real difference to the lives of women globally. Melissa spent 10 years working in the corporate world before leaving to establish a successful photography business. After experiencing a number of life-altering events, Melissa created The Sista Code in May 2014 with a dream to see women empowered, happy and connected. Whether it's building a house for the homeless in Nepal, interviewing inspiring women from around the globe, or creating events and campaigns to support sistas escaping domestic violence, Melissa knows that true change can only happen when we all stand together and boost each other.

1 Comment

  1. sophie mill

    February 28, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Dear Melissa,
    I particularly enjoy the link you posted ‘the danger of hiding who you are’.
    “Most people are other people; their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” –Oscar Wilde.
    Lacking spontaneity, originality or individuality is the worst flaw one can have, for a mediocre copy of someone else must surely be considerably more tiring than being yourself however, Oscar Wilde says it more beautifully, ‘to be natural is such a difficult pose to keep up’.
    What I constantly witness by being myself are people around me who actually believe they are the ‘good’ people and, with that obscure ideology, they fear the people who set ‘bad examples’; those ‘bad’ people who have the audacity of being them-selves. Perhaps it is true, by being ourselves may run the danger of having elements of corruption.
    In a society that has an entitlement to ‘freedom of speech’ we have also witnessed a society who will never be themselves for fear of being discriminated, persecuted and attacked. For ease of living, it is easier to fulfil society’s expectations.
    I often speak my mind however there is always a strong opposition from society. But, I would never give up being courageous in order to simply prey with the masses. To liberate yourself from hypocrisy socially empowers more people. Those with masks firmly attached to their heads has caused a decadence of our society because by ‘fitting in’ requires that people disregard principles in order to stay out of trouble, they hide their insecurities to fit in with others. Hence, social issues remain firmly within the status quo.
    Individuality is an extraordinary quality that very few people aspire to and even more who have not inherited the gene therefore, over the centuries it has always been up to a small handful of those who choose not to wear a mask and with that have left the rest of us with egregious gifts of freedom, literature, art and the easier ability to be ourselves.
    I give thanks to those who ruffled the establishments of yester year and I give thanks to those who dare to do it today.

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