The Audacity of Who I am

“High above the noise and fear mongering of critics and cynics softly speaks your true self.”
– Mollie Marti, Psychologist, Lawyer & Coach, USA

The other day, I watched the Bollywood movie Queen. In it Rani, a girl from Delhi, travels to Europe after being spurned by her fiancé. The movie then goes on to explore Rani’s ‘World view’ as dictated by her Indian middle class values and how that alters, as her biases and prejudices fall away, as she is confronted by radically different value systems and perspectives. A journey of self discovery in surroundings where she is no longer weighed down by others’ expectations and diktats. As she morphs, she confuses and pisses off many people including herself. Rani emerges from this crucible of experience as a more authentic human being. As she chooses to be ‘who she is for herself and for others’, she symbolises courage as well as resistance. Walking out of the theatre, I could not help but acknowledge how Rani’s awareness and acceptance of ‘who she is for herself and for others’ left her more empowered and in control of her destiny.

Kangana Ranaut in Queen
Kangana Ranaut in Queen

Who I am for myself and for others? How many of us are willing to make this query a daily practice as we loosen the constraints imposed by our world-view, let go of who we believe we should show up as and embrace who we really are?

What is it that makes me avoid being who I am for myself and for others? I can see this stemming from my desperation to be admired, liked and looking good. My life experiences have conditioned me to avoid being straightforward and veer towards being diplomatic if I perceive it is the latter which makes me look good. I have also been guilty of the corporate lie. On occasions I have stretched the truth about my company and its services, hidden what could have been embarrassing. On other occasions I have manipulated situations and people. All this to succeed, be admired, look good.

I muse. Have my efforts to gain admiration and look good empowered me to greater heights? Have I succeeded in engaging in my life from a place of worthiness? I remain increasingly unsure.

So if avoiding ‘who I am for myself and for others’ has not worked for me, how could I embrace it? As I think of this, I begin to see what being who I am for myself and for others could mean for me.
Who I am 1

It would mean the audacity to show up as the ‘imperfect me’ that I am and the willingness to be vulnerable.

It would mean the audacity to let my hair down and allow myself to truly belong with the folks I choose.

It would mean the audacity to be compassionate and loving even when I hold the fear of not being good enough.

It would mean the audacity to be authentic about my own inauthenticities.

Am I committed to being this audacious?


“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse.’ It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Excerpt from ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ by Margery Williams

In Learning….. Shakti Ghosal

Author: Shakti Ghosal

* A PCC Credentialed Executive Coach mentor and trainer for leaders & performance. * A qualified engineer and a PGDM (Faculty Gold medalist) from IIM Bangalore. * Four decades of industry experience spanning Engineering, Maintenance, Projects, Consumer durables, Supply Chains, Aviation and Tourism. * Top level management positions to drive business development, strategy, alliances all around the globe. * A visiting faculty at the IIMs. *A passion to envision trends & disseminate Leadership incubation globally. , * . +91 - 9051787576

50 thoughts on “The Audacity of Who I am”

  1. This is a very powerful essay. Yes you’re right, who are we really and how much of who we are do we really dare to show others, or even acknowledge deep within ourselves?


    1. Dear Charlotte,

      Totally agree with your comment, specially the aspect of not being able to acknowledge who we are deep within ourselves. We tend to delude our own self about who we really are as we try to avoid the pain of confronting reality. But in life, we do have crucible experiences which lead to this occurring. And this can be the trigger for us to embrace authenticity much more.

      Thank you for your kind acknowledgement. I truly appreciate.



    1. Hi Paul,

      I just visited your site as I had been curious to see in which context you have republished my post. I must say that I was delighted with what I saw. I would return soon to post my comment.




  2. Beautiful words that inspire even more beautiful thoughts. Touches me. To the point where I would love your permission to republish this over at Learning from Dogs.


  3. It is not easy to be ‘real’ or just yourself. Some people ’embellish’ and ‘brag’ more than what is actually part of their lives. I don’t know how it would feel to not be excited about your own personal journey. I had an excellent and special childhood which gives me inner peace, tranquility and what I like to call a “solid core.’ It has taken me through thick and thin. I am so proud of your wish to be audacious and authentic! Great post! Smiles, Robin


    1. Dear Robin,

      Loved your comment. Yes, I have come to believe that the only sustainable path to Authenticity is to be authentic about our inauthenticities, both to our own self and others. This does require a lot of courage (read Audacity) for it can be threatening to declare our inauthenticities to the very people who have been impacted by them.

      But what other choice do we have? Failure to follow the path of authenticity and continue to be inauthentic would only lead to conflicts, high costs and loss of reputation in the long run. And who would want that?

      Robin, I can only say how blessed you are to have had that special and privileged childhood. Do you realise that? Can you also see how that has supported you to be who you have wound up being today?

      I truly appreciate this great comment.



    1. Hi Sindhoo,

      Happy to note that the post resonated with you in parts. Indeed, as we are born, we need to know ourselves.But how many of us are able to do that? If anything, we get “pushed” to wear masks of inauthenticity more and more, in our desire to show up someone better than who we are. The question that needs to be answered is, “What could we do to start our journey towards authenticity?” One way which I have suggested in my post is, “To become authentic about our inauthenticities.” Would you agree, Sindhoo?



      1. Absolutely rightly said! To add, we needn’t do anything, everything is done by itself. I believe, every person questions himself about himself in some point of his life… Whatever should happen, it happens! Life teaches everything in its own way!


  4. How nice to remember The Velveteen Rabbit. I still have the book and the bunny that goes with it. I had bought it for my daughter when she was three or four. I’ve always loved the passage you quoted.
    Great post on being authentic.


  5. This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think having ‘who you want to be’ too far apart from ‘who others want you to be’ can only lead to unhappiness and stress. I’m trying to find some middle ground, but it’s not easy. This movie sounds good. Maybe I’ll see how she tackles this dilemma.


    1. Are we not, each one of us, so involved with that stressed polarity between “Being and acting consistent with who we hold yourself out to be for
      others, and who we hold ourself to be for our own self”? Our intrinsic need to look more grand than what we are, to be liked, to be popular etc. etc. conditions us to the extent that we live our lives wearing these masks. And over time, we morph so much into this masked, inauthentic person that we ourselves can no longer distinguish between this person and who we authentically are deep down.

      May I invite you to browse through an earlier post of mine, .

      Yes, I found the movie good. Since it has several languages ranging from Hindi, English, French, Russian and Japanese being used, watch it with sub-titles:)




  6. Mollie Marti’s quote is beautiful…thanks for the intro.

    I ended a presentation with the same excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit a few years ago. Numerous people came up to me after and not one referenced the excerpt. I wondered…was it too something or not enough. To me, it’s profound – especially after exposing inner issues to people.

    Shakti, it’s a joy to know you take this incredible inner journey – the adventure of a lifetime. I respect you so much for your willingness to be vulnerable and share it with us. You enrich my life with your insights. Be gentle with your loving and loveable self.


    1. Dear Amy,

      You never fail to come in with an interesting insight in your comments. Interesting that this Velveteen Rabbit excerpt, so powerful in its simplicity and message, had failed to resonate with your audience. Could it be that your presentation dwelled on something other than authenticity and the audience attention shifted to some other aspect?

      Thank you Amy for your generous acknowledgement.It only strengthens my resolve to continue on the path of becoming ‘authentic about my inauthenticities’.



      1. A quick response this morning, Shakti – the presentation was about my journey toward discovering who I really am. The irony…we could make a fresh presentation continuously. In fact, that’s the beauty of reaching for the inner truth. Big hug to you today!


      2. Hi Amy,

        Indeed we can make a fresh presentation every day. This awareness itself is a great blessing. For it underlines the fact that we have chosen to evolve and grow. And yes, this journey is about reaching inside as we first recognize and then align our inner values and passion to our chosen path of growth. But the journey is also about learning. Learning from what is outside. Learning to create strong foundation within our self. A foundation which would support a structure allowing us to overcome our own perceptual constraints.

        Liked that wonderful visionary look in the photo you posted on FB!:)

        Hugs to you too.



  7. Recognized the excerpt immediately! Love The Velveteen Rabbit.
    But. . . to your post. . .I like that way of stating it — “the audacity to be. . .” and isn’t a bit sad and ironic that we have to look at it that way. Being who you are meant to be is hard, hard, hard. At nearly 56 years of age I’m still struggling to figure out who that person is. Thanks for a wonderful, thought-provoking post.


    1. I loved this comment.

      This sheer awareness of the struggle each one of us needs to make to swing back to ‘who we really are’ is such powerful start, is it not. The awareness that who we have wound up being is in fact so different from who we are……

      Thank you taking the time to read and acknowledge, I truly appreciate.



  8. Kaku…thumbs up to the quote by mollie marti and to the last two ending tells everything. Nothing else is needed to be said or explained. Sadly this post wont resonate with many as the people who are audacious enough to ask these questions put up in the post honestly to themselves are numbered…


    1. Monu,

      Great to see you here. Even if the post does not resonate with many, it just might awaken the flame in others to commence their journey into authenticity. Should that happen, I would be happy.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      Shakti Kaku


      1. Sure kaku….that will surely happen as it is said that change always starts from us……once we change the world starts changing……take care


  9. Shakti …

    You are right that we should be ourselves and not pretend to be something we’re not. Unlike the “Velveteen Rabbit,” there also are real world consequences for being real. There are times when I’ve felt that being authentic, truthful actually wound up being a detriment to me personally and professionally.

    At the end of the day, I can look myself in the mirror. Diplomacy can be the best policy, but there is a time for candor as well. It’s all a balancing act. A lot to think about as I head off to sleep.

    Take care.



    1. Dear Judy,

      What you say is true. For me though Authenticity is a mountain without a top. I realise therefore I will never get there but need to be on the journey. It is a purely positive phenomenon with no value attached. It is the way to be and to access it, I need to be increasingly authentic about my own authenticities.

      Being real , for me, would be exercising my natural self expression as I Be and Act consistent to who I hold myself for others as also for myself.Diplomacy and candour would both exist in this space.

      Thank you for your thoughts Judy, I truly appreciate.



  10. Greetings Shakti….I always get so excited when I see your posts in my inbox…I am always guaranteed a day of deeper thinking 🙂 Thank you my friend. I have been thinking about this exact idea recently ( great minds think alike 🙂 ) and as I thought, ideas came up and I could see areas where I could put my thoughts into action! I have a doctors appointment coming up for my thyroid issue I have and I am wanting to see if he will apply me to try medical marijuana as auto immune disorders are being helped dramatically by it. I know he will ask me about why I think it will help me and two of the reasons are the auto immune issue and my inflammatory issues. The other issue the medical marijuana is good for is anxiety but I have been afraid to reveal issues with anxiety as in my mind it makes me become a wounded person to be regarded less than….Then I thought further and said to myself ” Wait just a minute! To think this way is to deny who I truly am and to feel shame for who I truly am”. I am who I am and what I am dealing with stems from a traumatic childhood I had no control over and should feel no shame for. I am still a kind, loving, compassionate, intelligent and curious soul out to make the world a better place. That is who I am as well and I must love all parts of me if I choose to live an authentic life. So I will be honest in the doctors office and I know it will make me feel better in the end. Thanks for reminding me Shakti! My appointment Thursday shall truly be a turning point 🙂 Blessings to you friend….VK


    1. Greeting to you too VK and it feels so nice to see your comment here.

      I wish to acknowledge you for being able to see the ” kind, loving, compassionate, intelligent and curious soul” that you are and the higher Cause that you hold for yourself of “making the world a better place”. Do you see the great empowerment this brings to you to show up as the “Real you”?

      I remain sure that as you journey onward as the ‘authentic’ YOU, you would be able to make peace with your own situation in a much better way.

      Thank you again VK for your presence, I so appreciate that.



  11. I like the Velveteen Rabbit It sounds a good read.. I had not heard it before.. But I am so pleased you used a portion of it here to end your excellent post Shakti..

    I think from a personal perspective, we spend most of our lives having to measure up to others expectations of us.. They mould us into being with their perceptions as they push us into paths perhaps they themselves never had or would aspire to be..

    So from a very young age we get moulded like clay to the vessels others see and we reflect back what they wish to see.. Often not even understanding that what we reflect back is not the deep desire of who we want to be.. but what they want us to be.. So we comply and are happy for the compliments and encouragement dolled out..
    Even as far back as my child hood I wanted approval from my Mother.. and would seek attention to gain her approval.. Love… and if it was not returned, I would think I had done something wrong.. and so the self would be judged as not being perfect and one would strive to find it again in others approvals.. So life goes on in the career ladder ect…

    Finding and pleasing only your self.. and acceptance of self.. is so empowering as it strips away the need for others approval… We resist it and fight it though for to be happy with just ones self.. Laugh, dance and jig around in Joy for no other reason that you are Happy with oneself makes others ‘Look’ at you and question your sanity.. So again you resist because you are not playing the rules.. You are then looked upon as abnormal, weird, freakish even.. because you stand out from the crowd.. As the Question is then turned around on you, as they ask WHO is this weird person?

    We have become afraid of standing out in the crowd. and declaring ‘This is who I am!.. and I don’t care what you think!.. This is me… “.. But so many still do care what others think.. And this is the problem… We spend more time worrying what others think! and absorb the energy of unworthiness..

    Life is a wonderful Mixture and we are unravelling Self more and more.. And this is when we awaken to the real us.. and when we do.. we can all then become like Rani… Freer in Spirit, and Happy with her choices and happier in who she is allowing herself to be..

    A wonderful thought provoking post as always my friend… Thank you… for sharing Shakti

    Blessings Sue


    1. Dear Sue,


      As always, your comment is such a powerful and personal “look inside” perspective that it befits being a separate post in itself. I do hope it gets the eyeball from other readers here that it so richly deserves.

      Indeed our socialisation through childhood does shape and constrain our “world view”. The need to conform and show up as how our parents, teachers and others would like us to, becomes the core of who we become…. for others and also for ourselves.As in the movie Queen, it sometimes requires an intense crucible event to jolt us out of that core and force us to examine all those beliefs which we have internalised over the years. This needs enormous courage initially to be be able to let go of all that we perceive as anchoring us. But as we leave our moorings, the world and its wondrous possibilities start opening up for us. As it did for Rani, the main protagonist in the movie.

      Sue, I remain blessed to have you comment on my posts. Thank you so much!



      1. No Thank YOU! Shakti for bringing forward my thoughts to comment.. Your posts always do that, as do your responses always make me stop and Think!..
        Thank you! my friend 🙂


  12. Shakti, for which age group would you recommend Queen. And who is its director or who are the main players?
    As for your reflection, somebody so honest and willing to look deep inside, will transform from a velveteen rabbit into a real one. No worries!


    1. Hi Paula,

      Great to see you here, Welcome!

      Thank you for the assurance that I shall soon be transforming away from being a velveteen rabbit:) I am relieved.

      As Regards the movie Queen, I would say that it is for +15 years age group. It is an Indian movie in Hindi though quite a bit of the conversations are in English, French, Japanese and Russian. I give below some details of the movie extracted out:

      “Queen is a 2014 Bollywood coming-of-age comedy-drama film by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Phantom Films. Directed by Vikas Bahl, the film stars Kangana Ranaut, Lisa Haydon and Rajkummar Rao in lead roles. The film’s story is about a middle class Indian girl in Rajouri Garden, Delhi, who decides to go on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam alone, after her fiancé walks out of the marriage two days before wedding. The film premiered at Busan International Film Festival in October 2013, and released worldwide in 800 Screens on March 7, 2014.”

      Hope this helps.

      Appreciate your commenting here.



      1. Hello Shakti…

        Hello Shakti…
        This post is really witty… I enjoyed reading your insights particularly when you made reference to audacity in differente situations like the one which is required to to show up as the ‘imperfect me’ that I am and the willingness to be vulnerable.
        Thanks for sharing and best wishes,
        Aquileana 🙂


      2. Hello Aquileana,

        Glad you liked the post. So how far have you progressed in your own journey of being authentic about your own inauthenticities and being willing to be vulnerable?

        Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment. I appreciate.



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