Last week, I posted a blog about feeling hopeless. It was a little scary for me to share. Maybe a lot scary. I wrote it from a place of strength and wellness, but I was very open about a rough couple days I had the previous week.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately—as a writer and an entrepreneur—is showing up authentically. I’m good at the supportive, uplifting stuff. But sharing about the harder things activates all sorts of fears for me, and they all boil down to this: worrying about the judgment of others.
It just about kills me to admit that.
All my life, I’ve been proud of thinking for myself, not going along with the crowd. Peer pressure always seemed lame to me. I think when people try to pressure others to conform, it is often really about their own doubts about themselves and their choices. When you can see through the surface behavior to what’s really going on, it doesn’t have power over you.
Which brings me back to caring about what people think.
Of course, I care about how people react to what I share. In fact, I want them to react, because I want to touch people in ways that make a difference, no matter how small, in their lives.
But the truth is, some people just won’t relate to what I have to say. Others won’t like it, some will misunderstand it, and everyone will have some sort of judgment about it.
The challenge is to show up anyway.
When I was in fourth grade, my family moved to a new city. I left the group of kids I’d gone to school with for four years—all of my school life. At my new school, because I was new (and vulnerable), some kids were quite mean to me. For the first two weeks, I came home every day and cried.
Then one afternoon, I thought, “I would never treat another human being that way!”
Something clicked. As soon as I realized I had no respect for those kids, I didn’t care what they thought of me.
And then, something interesting happened. The very next day, no one was mean to me—no cruel teasing or attempts to belittle me. It was that dramatic. Overnight.
Of course, there were a few times over the years, when a mean kid would say something to try to hurt me, but it didn’t get under my skin. That’s probably why it rarely happened.
I learned that there is real energy in our beliefs. Every time I “tried” to not to care, it didn’t work. It was only when I really didn’t care, that the miracle happened. And it was based on being true to my values.
I didn’t try to put on a “tough” skin, or act like someone I wasn’t. I stayed true to myself, and learned an important lesson about life. I could be both vulnerable and strong.
So—what is the power of being vulnerable?
You may help someone. You never know who may be struggling with the same thing. Sometimes just knowing we’re not alone makes a world of difference.
Your authenticity shines more brightly. Some of the energy caught up in hiding who you are gets released into simply being yourself.
You gain resilience. When when you practice good boundaries and listen to your intuition about what you choose to share, and with whom, you learn that it’s safe to be real. As others accept you for who you are, you learn to accept your own frailties, which strengthens you.
And the truth is, there are people who want to know who you are, what you think, how you feel. I’m thrilled to see the movement of energy in Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. I’m in awe when I read Rumi’s poetry. I laugh out loud at the cat videos people post on Facebook.
The perspectives we share with each other are kaleidoscopes of meaning.
They are little stained-glass windows into someone else’s soul.
They enrich our experiences on this earth. They add depth, lightness, and beauty. And I am grateful for all of it.
To borrow a piece of wisdom from one of my clients, don’t “hoard” yourself and your gifts!
How can you bring more of who you are into your self-expression?
(And what are you waiting for?)