Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.

Oscar Wilde

In recent conversations, the theme “be yourself” has come up several times. And when themes emerge, I always like to seek the lesson for myself and eventually share it. If you feel like sometimes you struggle with saying what you mean, doing what you love, or relaxing around certain people, then this message is especially for you. Yet even if you are confident and sure that you are comfortable being yourself, there is often room to go a little deeper—an opportunity to uncover another layer of authenticity and free yourself to be unapologetically you.

Not being at ease with yourself just as you are is exhausting. You might not even realize the amount of energy that is being drained by keeping up appearances, attempting to be perfect, pleasing other people, and trying to make yourself fit into situations that are simply not you. The notion of “being yourself” can feel a little vague, so consider these three practical strategies that will help you maximize your best you:

1. Say what you need to say.

Are you beating around the bush? Too afraid to speak up? Have you found yourself telling a little lie to avoid the embarrassment of telling the truth? That’s a clear sign you are not being true to yourself. Identify at least one situation in which you have not said what you need to say. When you finish reading this, go to the person who needs to hear it, and just say it. If you can’t say it now, then mark your calendar for the date and time when you will. Authenticity means being forthright. Don’t waste precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.

2. Do what you know is right.

There is nothing more authentic than living your values. When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.

3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

When we are uncomfortable in our own skin, most of the time it is because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human. In other words, we haven’t given ourselves permission to be imperfect. When you relax, you enjoy yourself more. When you value the journey as much as, if not more than, the destination, you embrace the fact that there will be bumps along the road—but they don’t have to keep you from reaching your purpose.