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  • Clive Vanderwagen

You don't need to wear a mask anymore!

Okay, so that was a real clickbait headline.

This article has nothing to do with Covid-19 and surgical masks. In South Africa wearing a mask is dictated by law, so don't go breaking the law. Wear your mask and wash your hands.

This article is about these kind of masks:

The kinds we wear to please people.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about pleasing people.

I'm currently writing a book inspired by the TEDx talk I got to do in 2021. I shared a very vulnerable story from my life on the TEDx stage and spoke about the need to accept that it happened, without judgement, and without wishing it could be different.

The book has more stories of acceptance, and a lot of the pieces I am writing has made me reflect on how much power I have handed to other people in my life in order to please them. And how I still do that.

I'll be honest here – people scare me.

Which is weird, because all I do everyday is deal with people, up close and personal. It's not that individuals scare me, people as a whole scare me. What people think. What they could do to me. What they could say to me. Or about me.

I keep people at arm's length because I'm too scared they will abandon or reject me.

That's a script I have that was deeply entrenched in my childhood. When the TEDx talk is online, I'll share it and you'll get to hear a part of what has affected my script.

We've all had shit happen that's made us scared. No one can say they're not scared. And we all deal with it in differing ways. Some escape into work. Some bully others to feel strong. Some escape into wine every night (oh hello, Clive). And some, like me, be all we can be to please.

You need me to be funny? Fab, I'll whip out my best comic timing and we'll be cackling up a storm. You need me to be caring and loving, and I'll hold you in my arms for hours. You need me to be more masculine, I'll drop my voice and act a bit more butch (protection mechanism that helped me stop being bullied as severely at school).

I have layer upon layer of masks that I whip out when I need to perform the role that will get me the best approval.

And you probably do too.

But no more.

You see, I set an intention for 2022. To SHOW UP! Yes, I screamed it. I want to show up authentically, honestly and vulnerably.

Now obviously we have to have some sense of care about what other people think. It's how we maintain jobs and relationships, but I refuse to change who I am and what I value anymore. I have no more fucks to give.

Maybe it's the joy of turning 50 this year.

Maybe it's because I work for myself.

Maybe it's because I'm tired.

I'm tired of playing roles.

You want to book me to speak in front of your team or organisation, cool. But you get this Clive. I wear jeans and Converse sneakers. I have tattoos and pierced ears. I'm gay. And speak about my husband when I speak, so if that's going to upset you or your audience, then, oh well.

I worked with a coach who told me that being vulnerable online is going to lose me business. I need to be more Alpha male, and speak the corporate speak.


I speak about me. Because ultimately you work with me. The clunky, chunky, emotional, wounded, funny, silly, serious, wise, and ignorant. Me, with all my paradoxes, and paranoias, and potential.

I want to show up. I want to be seen. Me.

That's what 2022 means to me.

So now whip out your journal and answer these questions for you:

  • How are you planning on showing up in 2022?

  • What does being authentic mean to you?

  • Who are you not being authentic with?

  • Are there ways you can change that?

  • What one thing will you do in the next week to express yourself authentically?

I spent some time on these questions last week, and will keep coming back to them. You're too special not to show up in your fullness and messiness.


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