To be comfortable in one’s skin

Written by Jennifer Griggs

For a while, I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to be as a leader. I thought of “self sufficient,” but good leaders are at their best when they can ask for help. I thought “confident,” but there is so much I don’t know that confidence seemed like the wrong word. (So many confident leaders border on arrogant, and that was most definitely not what I wanted.) I didn’t want to be “needy” of course, but we all have needs, universal needs. Then I remembered the phrase I’d learned during a French immersion course in Sancerre, France many years ago: “Être bien dans sa peau,” to be comfortable in one’s skin.

You may have heard the expression. 

What does it mean to be comfortable in your own skin? Here are my thoughts:

  • Accepting and loving yourself as you are, with both your positive traits and flaws
  • Not seeking validation or approval from others but rather finding it within yourself
  • Not letting other people’s opinions or judgments affect how you feel about yourself 
  • Being confident and secure enough in your identity that you don’t feel the need to compare yourself to others or try to be someone you’re not
  • Being able to step outside your comfort zone and try new things without fear of judgment
  • Focusing on growing, learning, improving for your own fulfillment rather than to impress others
  • Expressing your authentic self without apology (unless in doing so you hurt another!)
  • Having compassion for and patience with yourself
  • Not taking things personally or making assumptions about what others think of you

 

In short, being comfortable in your own skin is living and leading with dignity. Of course, these ways of being are not simple. If our dignity has been violated or if we have beliefs that we are not worthy of compassion or patience, it can be a slog to get to this place. On the other hand, think of someone in a leadership position whom you admire. Do they exhibit these traits? How do you feel when you are around them? What would it take for you to be comfortable in your own skin?