Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Courage to Be Who You Really Are

It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are. ~ e.e. cummings

I had started a bunch of blogs about philanthropy, paradigm shifts and change, but this came up so I wanted to share it first and you’ll have to wait until later for the others on giving! Enjoy!

It is amazing how much changes, with just the passage of time. I have just spent a few weeks back in Denver, Colorado, where I lived for 11 years, to wrap up some personal affairs and do business as I build OneGiving ( During my drive out, I thought about how much my life has changed in one year and how young and afraid I felt on my way out to move to California to follow my dreams as I walked away from my comfortable career. I also realized how much more confident and at peace I feel just one year later. It has taken me a long time to get to this place. But then again, sometimes people never get here.

I recently read the most amazing blog about the courage to be wrong ( The author, Jonathan Morrow, wrote about how, for so much of our life, we are taught, or trained, to say the right thing, know the right people, dress the right way and so on in order to be successful and happy. Yet the reality is that this conformity that we are taught comes at the cost of losing our sense of self and this need to be right and perfect begins to consume, confine and constrict us to our own prison and hell. The blog goes on to state that the reality is that the people who we take notice of (and probably those that are the happiest too) are the people who have the courage to be wrong – to pervert the norm and do things that are so completely unexpected that people can’t help but pay attention.

As I read the blog, I began to cry. It was so profound and true it resonated into the depths of my being. It is why I love the e.e.cummings quote about how courageous it is to be who you really are. The blog by Jonathan Morrow and the quote remind me so much of where I am today and the choices I am making, even if sometimes my intellectual mind tries to convince me otherwise.

I have had a couple of interesting experiences on my visit with old friends that have also reminded me how much I have grown and how far I have come in living fully in my truth and having the courage to truly be who I really am.

One of my friends told me that she always really loved being around me because I was passionate, but that for a long time whenever I would come to her house, she would wonder what I would complain or argue (though passionately, she added) about. When she reconnected with me, she told me she saw a light, passion and peace that had truly transformed me. It reminded me of something someone once told me about it being harder to move an apathetic person in the direction of action than a negative person in the direction of light because at least the negative person was passionate, and hence movable, whereas the apathetic person was lulled into inaction.

The other experience was with an old friend and colleague who made me really laugh when he said, “Yeah, I’ve been getting all these emails from you and they are very peace and lovey. I wondered to myself, wow, she really has gotten pretty far out there, what happened to her passion and conviction about youth, education, health care and policy change.” But when I showed him what I am working on in creating OneGiving that entails all those things and more, with a lot of peace, love and passion – he got it! And I got it! If I am me-fully and authentically, with no apologies or excuses, I allow others to be who they are. In the process, I honor myself and am able to see myself for all that I am and that allows others to see me for all that I am as well.

Are you living courageously and fully expressing all that you are? If not, what are you waiting for and what is holding you back? Don’t let the way things should be or are supposed to be constrict you from being all that you are! Live it today and watch the world around you transform before your eyes!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

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