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Just be yourself; everyone else is already taken

Do you ever feel like you're just faking it?

You know, walking around in a grown-up body acting like you know what you're doing, when really you have no idea who you are inside.

We all play act. We don a suit, go to work and act like the other people at the office.

We get married, have kids, buy a house and join the PTA, yet secretly wonder if the other grown-ups feel just as clueless as we do.

We frequently put so much energy into being who we think we should be that we forget who we actually are.

It's amazing how much of our identity is tied up in the roles that we play. We often assume that because our job title reads VP of Development, church secretary or head widget maker, that's the net sum of identify.

But talk to anyone who has lost their job, or their savings or worse, and they'll tell you, you are not your job description. Nor are you your home, your bank account, or even your body.

If we ever needed a lesson in soul searching, we're getting one right now. Like it or not, the angst of our times is forcing us to come face to face with ourselves.

In his newest book, "Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken," author Mike Robbins writes, "We live in a culture that is starving for authenticity. We want our leaders, our co-workers, our family member our friends, and everyone else we interact with to tell the truth and to be themselves."

But it's not just other people, we also want permission for ourselves. Robbins (www.mike-robbins.com) writes, "We want to have the personal freedom and confidence to say, do and be who we really are, without worrying so much about how we appear to others and what they will think or say about us."

"Sadly, however," he says, "even though we may say we want to live in a way that is true to our deepest passions, beliefs and desire most of us don't."

Busted.

How many of us can honestly say that we're living a life that is 100 percent true to our values? Much less the inner yearnings of our souls?

The sentiment, "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken" was originally penned by famous nineteenth century author and poet Oscar Wilde. But the words resonate in today's environment.

I would never minimize anyone's financial woes, job loss or other suffering, but perhaps with some of our outer trappings stripped away, we've been given the opportunity to discover who we are inside. The prospect is both scary and exciting. Robbins says that, "the paradox of authenticity is that we both seek it and fear it at the same time."

What if I reveal who I really am and nobody likes it?

But then again, what if Mike Robbins and Oscar Wilde are right? What if all the other roles are taken? Then there's really nobody left to be but yourself.

It's a tough call, you can keep on faking it, which is even harder to do during these tough times. Or you can decide that there really is only one you, and that you're already good enough, smart enough, and savvy enough to survive whatever the Universe sends your way.

Just be you, it's cheaper, it's easier, and you don't even need to dress up for the part.

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect." Contact her at www.forgetperfect.com.