Last weekend, I attended a lovely—and challenging—workshop on authentic expression. Lovely, because of the wonderful people I met, and our supportive workshop leaders. Challenging, because it involved talking in front of the group about my business—on video—and watching the recordings afterward.
I learned a lot about facing my fears and being vulnerable. I learned that when I’m playing and being creative, it’s easier for me to be myself. And when I speak from my heart, the words flow. I’ve learned this over and over in my life, and now I’m relearning it again.
Sometimes, growth feels like walking up a steep, spiral staircase. You wind upward and around, only to find yourself close to where you started, but at a different vantage point. It’s like pushing up into the dark unknown, only to discover an insight waiting on a landing, whispering to you like a figure in a dream.
Then often, the insight fades beneath the routine of daily life, and waits for you to find it again. The unexpressed parts of yourself—your unlived gifts—are like that too. They’re still there, waiting for you to reclaim them.
Edmund Spenser expresses this beautifully, in this quote from the Faerie Queene:
What though the sea with waves continuall
Doe eate the earth, it is no more at all…
Nor is the earth the lesse or loseth aught,
For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
Is with the tide unto another brought…
For there is nothing lost, but may be found, if sought…
Is there a blueprint for spiritual growth? A kind of DNA of the soul? If there is, I believe it involves losing precious parts of ourselves, struggling, and then finding them again. But when we find them again, we are different. We’re older, and we (hopefully) know ourselves more. We bring our hard-earned consciousness to our gifts, making them even more precious.
There are a myriad of reasons why we leave parts of ourselves behind. The life pressures and circumstances vary, but the result is the same: some essential part of ourselves remains unexpressed.
We’ve all had the experience of interacting with someone who felt inauthentic. And we’ve all had the experience of being inauthentic, ourselves. It can be scary to embody who we are, because we risk rejection. Most likely, you buried parts of yourself because you didn’t feel safe enough to express them. But your strength is in your authenticity. When you’re being who you are, doing what you are called to do, you can inspire others. You can make a difference.
Something we were withholding made us weak, until we found it was ourselves.
– Robert Frost
It takes energy to hide parts of us. Holding ourselves back from what we are called to do—from painting, to working in hospice, to coaching a little league team, to any type of gift we have—is exhausting. We are complex, and mysterious, and deep. You are complex, mysterious, and deep. And you can develop your unlived gifts and dreams.
What treasures from your depths do you have to bring to the world?
And what are you waiting for?