As I push 40 years old I’ve been reflecting, along with some other spiritual companions, about what it means to embrace our true self. The word “unapologetic” has come up over and over again for me. Being unapologetic, in a spiritual context, could be defined as a courageous affirmation of one’s true self as lovingly created by God, free from the distortions of ego and societal labels. We see this unapologetic spirit embodied in the life of Jesus, who boldly challenged societal norms and remained true to his mission, even in the face of opposition (Matthew 23:13-36, John 2:13-16).

I find myself slowly wandering along the edge of what Richard Rohr calls the “second half of life,” a non-chronological state where our focus shifts from external achievement and “container building” to embracing deeper spiritual truths and personal growth. Buddhism would call this detachment. St Ignatius would call it freedom. It is where we transcend the superficial preoccupations of status and material success, focusing instead on what brings us closer to our authentic self and God.

Battling the False Self

Insecurity and attachment to one’s false self is a lifelong battle. I’ve met plenty of people decades older than me who struggle to bypass the ego-protective lures of the false self. One of those lures is not accepting who you are, warts and all. Instead we find ourselves “apologising” for our doubts and questions, our quirky interests, or our deep values and convictions.

Yet we’ve likely all known someone who exhibits a more unapologetic stance: they know themselves, including their gifts and faults. There’s a comfort and authenticity in who they are. Most of all, they know they are loved above all. They relish this truth.

There’s a spiritual liberation in accepting life’s impermanence and one’s own imperfections, which can lead to living more fully and fearlessly—true to oneself, without apologies. The idea of accepting our whole selves—including our aging bodies and the inner tensions between our lights and shadows—resonates deeply with the Ignatian call to self-awareness and wholeness. The practice of the Examen is one way we habitually grow in this self-knowledge.

For me, this has meant becoming less concerned about external appearances and the opinions of others. I’ve learned to embrace my personal style and way of being, rather than trying to conform to societal expectations. It has also meant growing more confident in my spiritual practices, trusting that my way of praying and my image of God are valid and sacred, even if they differ from others.

The Blessing of Aging

I think the blessing of aging and moving toward the second half of life is realising the spiritual necessity of embracing one’s entire being, including imperfections and the natural process of getting older. We accept that we are not in control of everything. We find a kind of Ignatian indifference, a detachment from specific outcomes or expectations. We become free from the presumption that the order of the universe is tidy and leans in favour of my comfort. We can handle life’s paradoxes and tensions without succumbing to extremes.

Sadly, we live in a world where moderation seems rare and certainty is an idol. Black and white or extremist thinking is often the easiest route to take. Yet valuing moderation and remaining open to other perspectives, even when they differ from our own, is a mark of spiritual maturity. We can hold fast to our personal values and convictions, such as our commitment to social justice, environmental stewardship, or simple living, without feeling the need to apologize for them or impose them on others. Yet I think most people live more in the middle than we tend to believe. Living in tension and in the midst of questions and uncertainties is a universal, often unspoken experience. Being unapologetic can be rejecting binary thinking—refusing to be categorized solely as liberal or conservative, young or old, successful or unsuccessful. It’s about embracing a more moderate, balanced, and nuanced view of oneself and the world.

That’s a sign of the true self emerging.

Authentic Relationships

As we grow more comfortable in our own skin, our relationships naturally shift and deepen. Being unapologetic can mean prioritising deeper, more genuine connections that resonate with one’s true self, rather than maintaining superficial ties. We find ourselves drawn to people who appreciate us for who we are, quirks and all, and who share our values and aspirations. At the same time, we become less afraid of solitude, more at peace in our own company. We learn to set healthy boundaries and to let go of relationships that no longer serve our growth or align with our authentic selves. This can be a painful process, but it creates space for more nourishing, life-giving connections.

Being unapologetic is not about being rigid, arrogant, or dismissive of others. Rather, it is a gentle, courageous embrace of the person God created us to be. It’s about showing up in the world with authenticity and vulnerability, trusting that our unique gifts and perspectives have value and purpose. In essence, it’s about living truthfully in alignment with one’s deepest values and convictions, embracing both strengths and vulnerabilities without the need for external approval. As we journey into the second half of life, may we find the freedom and grace to be unapologetically ourselves, secure in the knowledge of God’s unfailing love.

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