Unmasking My Authentic Self: A Journey of Rediscovery

awakening reflection (blog post) Jul 17, 2023
Person writing a letter by hand with a pen, a symbolic image of self-expression and communication.

By Dr Shuna Marr

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were younger? I did.

I wrote to a girl called Debbie in South Africa and how I came to have this pen pal was memorable.

The Beginnings of a Pen Pal

My mum and I had been driving through lonely and remote Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands, on the way back from a trip to Skye (a beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland).

We took pity on a young hitchhiker standing by the side of the road in the torrential rain. He was a lad of about 18 on a tour of Europe in his gap year.

He turned out to be a personable chap and we ended up driving him all the way back to Glasgow.

And on that drive he mentioned his younger sister back in South Africa was looking for a pen pal and I agreed to write to her.

And I did, between the ages of 14-18, we’d write letters - and as this would be back in the 1970s, it involved airmail paper and a pen.

The thing is, I remember that I used those letters to reinvent myself.

Becoming "Midge"

I believe they have a name for it now (catfishing) where people present completely different profiles on online dating sites.

It wasn’t as drastic as that. I just changed small details that I felt would make me seem more ‘cool’. For instance, I told her that I had a nickname of Midge.

Now, nobody I knew personally had ever called me that, but at the time it had seemed that a nickname was cool. And why would Debbie have any reason to doubt me?

So letters came back with ‘Dear Midge…’ as the greeting.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Nicknames

However, as the time went on, it became increasingly embarrassing and uncomfortable to be referred to as Midge.

My body knew the truth, even if my head wanted to invent things. So I think one day I just said I’d outgrown that nickname and asked her to call me Shuna.

Seeking External Validation

I realise now that that experience is an early example of how I used to bend myself out of shape to fit in with others, to make myself feel more acceptable.

Like so many of us, I sought outside of myself for validation and approval - and I was prepared to reinvent myself to receive it.

It took me another 20+ years, until I was 38 and I’d had my first of three major burnouts, before I finally began to change that pattern of behaviour.

By then, I was being so untrue to myself that I didn’t remember who the ‘real’ Shuna was. I’d created a reality where I was being who and what everyone else wanted me to be.

Unraveling and Reevaluating Life

However, when that first breakdown happened, and I completely unravelled, I was finally forced to look at my life…. and I could not find ‘me’ in it anywhere.

I didn’t know whose life I was living, but it didn’t feel like mine.

It was so buried, I didn’t know who the ‘real me’ was. And from that point onwards, I set out to begin the process of finding myself again.

Rediscovering the Authentic Self

It’s having realisations like that - about where you’re not being true to your authentic self - that is a key part of your unfolding through the awakening journey.

It’s taken me more than two decades to go through an ever-deepening process of unpicking these old patterns and conditioning to reveal my authentic self.

Of identifying and releasing the false and limiting beliefs that had caused me to seek outside of myself to meet my needs.

Of learning to be true to myself and being able to stand authentically in my own power.

Guiding Others on the Unfolding Journey

And it’s now my mission to help and support those coming up behind me, who are now going through this process.

I’ve mapped the journey you’re on, and I’ve collected the information, skills and tools you’ll need to navigate this journey more quickly and more smoothly than it took me.

I'm here to help


Dr Shuna Marr

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