“Unanimity is impossible unless you are willing to be invisible. We can be unanimous in our lack of feedback for the invisible one.” ~Seth Godin
Seth Godin wrote a post a few days ago called For the one person who didn’t get the joke. As is typical of his posts, this is a short, quick read that still makes a profound point. (Yes, that’s my encouragement to take a moment to go read it for yourself. It’s worth it!)
There will always be someone who does not appreciate each creative thing I may make. This is true of my writing, the jewelry I make, the things I crochet, the food I cook, the way I dress, my style in decorating. I can’t please everyone.
Our culture tends to idolize the macho, the tough, the strong, those that never share or display their wounded hearts. We instinctively hide our vulnerable parts in order to keep those tender and wounded places safe.
This is sometimes a necessity because there are many times and places where it would not be safe to let our vulnerability show. But when we find those moments of safety where we can risk letting down our guards and letting others in, our vulnerability often becomes a magnet to others who discover in us the freedom to expose their own vulnerability. Giving each other glimpses behind the masks that we so often wear allows us to see a bit of the true beauty that each human being holds.
It seems like just being myself should be something that comes naturally, but it’s so easy to bend a little here and flex a little there in order to be liked and to compromise in relationships. If I’m not careful, I have stopped being “me” and become someone else that I don’t recognize. I’ve learned over the years that this is something I need to pay attention to in order to make sure I don’t wander off track.
The links I’ve collected for this week’s link love are all ones that speak to different aspects of my struggles to consistently show up in an authentic way in my life without hiding parts of myself to make others comfortable, trying to be something I’m not to be liked, or setting goals based on what I think is expected.
My life journey over the past few years has been one involving lots of change and transformation. While change is hard enough in and of itself, this particular bout of change has had the additional challenge in that so much of it has involved moving away from what’s expected of me to dance to the beat of my own drum.
While learning to be more authentically myself has been a wonderfully freeing experience, choosing to be different from the culture around me has often been challenging. The set of links that I have collected for tonight are all about learning to be oneself in a world that would really prefer that we conform to the mold. These are great encouragement!
Part of any process of transformation is letting go of pieces of who we have been in order to make room to grow into who we are becoming. They challenge so often is that it is necessary to let go of who we were before we have clarity about who it is we are becoming. At least, that is the way it works for me.
It is easy to say that I want to become more authentically me, but it often feels like “me” is more of a committee than a single identity. My strengths and my weaknesses, my light and my shadow, all my dreams and interests and patterns and wounds and talents all mixed up together competing for the ability to direct my life. As I let go of the pieces of me that are no longer serving me, I find myself making choices among all of these competing voices to determine who it is that I will become.
When I was younger, I loved knowing secrets. It made me feel special; I was “in the know.” I must be important, if I knew something that other people didn’t know, right?
The older I get and the more secrets I’ve had to live with, the less fond of them I become. Oh, I still notice that little thrill of self-importance that comes with first hearing some secret, but I’ve discovered over the years that secrets are a heavy burden to carry around. At minimum, they place me in situations where I’m always watching what I say to make sure I don’t give anything away. But they also all to often create the need to lie to (or at least mislead) people in order to preserve the secret. Secrets, particularly other people’s secrets, don’t work well with a life of integrity.
Then there’s the whole pressure that comes from having shared one of my secrets with someone else. Will they tell anyone else? Was I wrong to trust them with my secret? Am I still safe? What will I do if they tell? It’s stressful!
“Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” ~Jodie Foster
I attended a book club discussion today where we talked about a book that I dearly love: Carolyn Heilbrun’s The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty. This is the second time I’ve read this book, and in some ways I found this reading even more fascinating because I now know more about what the years following the publication of this book brought for the author.
Much of what I find so delightful about this book is that there are so many ways that I am much like the author. There are many things she describes coming to understand about herself that are things I could have written from my own personal experience. Many of these would qualify as being a bit eccentric, so I am always delighted to know that I am not alone in them.
“A person’s worth in this world is estimated according to the value they put on themselves.” ~Jean De La Bruyere
I’ve spent much of my life looking to others to determine my own worth. This was a recipe for many ups and downs depending on what feedback I was getting from other people at any given time. The biggest challenge, though, was the fact that no two people ever completely agreed on their assessment of me—what one person thought worthy of praise, someone else was equally critical of.
This meant that no matter how hard I tried, there was always at least one critical voice out there telling me that I didn’t quite measure up. There was no way to ever be my authentic self when all my energy was going toward proving my worth to these critics out there. It was not a good way to live.
“If you took a blue spruce tree and planted it in the desert, it would obviously perish. How do we forget that we too are living systems, and each of us have unique environments, needs, and conditions within which we flourish or wither?” ~Dawna Markova
Although we are far from desert conditions here in the Midwest, the last couple years of hotter, drier weather has taken a toll on the blue spruce trees in the area. I have four of them in my yard. One didn’t make it through last summer, and the other three are struggling despite the fact that I have been watering them in the dry spells. My trees are far from alone, though. I now notice other blue spruce trees everywhere I drive around town, and I’ve seen many others that are dead or struggling under these conditions.
Therefore, this quote from Dawna Markova really resonated with me. There are conditions where it is obvious that a given living specimen will not be able to survive, like a blue spruce tree in the desert or a fish on dry land, but there are also conditions that are sufficiently stressful to an organism that even if it does not kill it, it will stress the organism enough that over time it will begin to show the ill effects.
I just got home from a yoga class that I drove over two hours each way to attend. It was billed as a Yin Yoga and Reiki class, but it included not only the advertised yin yoga and Reiki but also meditation, chakra work, and sound therapy. All in a space that is one of the most healing and welcoming studios I’ve ever experienced. It was an amazing experience! (Definitely enhanced by spending the time in the car with a like-minded soul who affirmed and uplifted me throughout the hours of driving with glorious, deep, and powerful conversation!!)
The last few days have left me agitated, full of doubt and self-questioning, and incredibly discouraged. The hour and a half spent on my mat tonight in class flew by as if it was only a few moments and gave me the blessing of getting out of my thoughts and emotions long enough to settle into my body. As I did so, I rediscovered me.