Fortune Friday: “You think that is a secret, but it never has been one.”

As a whole, people, myself included, spend an inordinate amount of time keeping up appearances. We overly concern ourselves with how we look physically for sure, but even more pervasive is how much time and effort we put into sugar-coating and varnishing our personality. We are so desperate for approval or love of our persona. We so badly want to be liked. Seriously, who doesn’t? I know I do.

But this desire for acceptance can come at a cost. The amount of effort it takes maintaining our facades can be exhausting. We spend so much time polishing our veneer to the perfect sheen. But while we’re busy polishing, we lose out on connecting with those who truly matter. True friends love you because of your faults, not in spite of them.

What if we learned to love and accept ourselves exactly as we are—warts and all? What if we concerned ourselves more we how we thought about us, and less than what our neighbor thinks. What if instead of trying to keep up with the Joneses, we gauged our personal progress against ourselves? Am I a better person today than I was a year ago?

And here’s the real secret: that thing you’ve been hiding from the world—that thing you think makes you not good enough—it’s not secret at all. We’ve all known. For years.

A high school friend of mine agonized for years about publicly coming out of the closet. He dreaded telling his parents. When he finally decided to tell them, he was nervous and apprehensive. After he told them he was gay they replied, “Yeah, so? We’ve known for years.”

So many things we desperately try to hide from the world. We think we have all these flaws that make us weird or unlovable or an outcast. But it is our oddities and our quirks that make us uniquely us. Embrace who you are. Accept and love that you are exactly as you were created to be—whether the world likes it or not. Know in your heart that God does not make mistakes.

Stop hiding. Stop covering. Stop deflecting. What you think is a big secret, probably isn’t.

To your good fortune!

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