Listen: Susan Sohn chats to Laura Bennett. Above: Author, Susan Sohn.
After years consulting as a social media guru, and being up working in the late hours – those hours when masks come down and gals get honest with one another – Susan Sohn began to realise something was amiss.
Why were women waiting until the dark of night to share about the really tough things they were going through, yet crafting images online of seemingly picture-perfect lives by day?
There was a deep disconnect between the lives women were projecting on the outside, and what they were really going through on the inside.
And in Susan’s mind, that was a big problem.
Because it was causing many to sit on the sidelines of life, feeling like they don’t measure up, and stopping them from being honest about life’s challenges.
In her debut book True You: Finding Beauty in Authenticity, Susan Sohn addresses this disconnect. Part-therapy and part-memoir, the book encourages women to create a culture of honesty and authenticity – one where friends feel safe to be honest, share and bear one anothers’ burdens.
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Chatting to Hope 103.2, Susan said many women seem to spend their days wearing a mask, “afraid of presenting our true selves”.
“What if we were all ok with each other just showing up with our mess, with the stuff that’s going on, and you walked into a room and everybody was ok with that?” Susan asks.
“I think it’s a powerful place to be.”
Building Women’s Self Worth
Susan’s passion is to see women freed from self-doubt, and begin to value and love themselves, just the way God has made them. She says that self-worth is something many women need to work on.
“I say to my kids all the time and my friends… that ‘I am perfectly made’. That I’m ‘planned, purposed and chosen for such a time as this’, ‘no weapon formed against me will prosper’.
“So when I walk into a room, I guess I walk in with expectation of just being me. I come from that place of really liking me… liking who God made me to be.”
In True You readers get to know the author really well. She shares about her marriage struggles, parenting mistakes, family tensions, and the heartache of miscarriage. But amid the struggle she paints a picture of the beauty and healing that comes honesty about those things.
“I think we’re scared to put the truth out there because we’re scared… of what we’ll think about ourselves, of what other people will think about us. But we have to let that go. Because truth is freeing.”
“I talk about early marriage and the stuff that my husband and I brought into our marriage,” she says. “We really lived caught in the snare of lies and the challenges that you can go through as a young couple. And the lies were compounded by the things that we thought people would think about us. So we felt it was safer to just live in that place [of fake perfection].
“I think I had a fear of losing it all and “what people would think”. Newly married, what if it fell apart, what would people think at church, what would people think at work? What if I lost everything?
“I think we’re scared to put the truth out there because we’re scared of judgment, of what we’ll think about ourselves, of what other people will think about us. But we have to let that go. Because truth is freeing.
“I think if we are honest, we judge one another all the time… and I think we need to stop [and be] a bit kinder every single day.”
Stories of Pain and Healing
In her book, Susan shares the stories of numerous women, about the painful roads they have travelled, and the ways in which they have healed, too. It tackles themes like pain, loss, abuse, loneliness, addiction, and fear. And at the end of each chapter is a spiritual contemplation exercise, to help readers stop, reflect, and ask God into specific areas of their life.
The process she walks readers through in the book, is a process she also walks women through at spiritual retreats.
“I walk people through how you can sit in your pain,” Susan explained. “I think we push pain under the carpet a lot…but [there is healing] in actually sitting in that space and being bold enough to acknowledge it and even welcome it… and then in the next breath welcoming God into that place.”