As I continue to reflect on the great words of wisdom I have received over the past few months, this piece of advice keeps coming up.
Brene Brown writes about vulnerability as having the courage to show up and be seen. This got me thinking about how I show up in the world, and how I allow myself, or do not allow myself, to be seen. Do I show up as my authentic self, or do I wear a mask? Am I hiding the essence of who I am behind anger or fear? Is there a disconnect between who I know myself to be and how I present myself in the world?
I don’t know the answers to these questions right now. I am trying to figure that out. While I like to think I am authentically showing up, maybe there is a place for me to examine myself further.
What I do know is this. How someone else sees me is not their problem. What I mean by that is that if I am bothered or upset that someone else can’t see me, the real me, the me I want the world to know, the problem lies with how I am showing up, not with them. We can only see what others present.
Truthfully, I am sometimes scared of showing up and being seen. Sometimes I wonder if people would still love me, or want to know me if they really knew me. There is nothing inauthentic about how I present myself to the world, but we all have a shadow self, those parts of ourselves that we keep hidden and don’t particularly want to know better. Perhaps we have a hurt inner child that comes out and has a temper tantrum when they are scared or when someone says “that thing” to them that sets them off. Perhaps we keep certain truths about who we are to ourselves because we are convinced that no one could handle it.
I am not suggesting that to show up fully and authentically means we have to put on display for everyone else those parts of ourselves that we keep hidden. I am suggesting, however, that we need to be aware of them, to acknowledge to ourselves that we have those parts, and to be selective about who earns the right to know those parts of our lives.
So today, how will you choose to show up and be seen? Maybe it will be in how you interact with strangers in a grocery store? Perhaps you need to have a difficult conversation with someone? Maybe it will be in how your words and actions align? Whatever situation you find yourself in today, as I will, let’s show up with authenticity and allow ourselves to be seen.
For me, I am going to struggle with this today, but I have an appointment with my psychiatrist who wants to see me because I stopped taking the medication she prescribed me. To be fair, I told her I was going to stop taking it because the side effects were more than I could handle, and she was going to call me to talk about other options. She never called. So now she wants to see me in her clinic. My struggle is how to show up. Do I show up and let her see that I am doing just fine without them. Or do I show up and let her see I am having a very human reaction to the many stressors I have experienced lately? I don’t want to, figuratively, wear a mask, but I am afraid of what she will say or do if I let her see that I don’t have it all together right now. I don’t necessarily want to go back on medication. I don’t like what it does to my body. Maybe I need to just follow Brene Brown’s suggestion and have the courage to show up and be seen without knowing the outcome.
Speaking of masks, one way to show up as a person who cares about the well being of others is to wear a mask in public places. Please remember that masks keep others safe. So does physical distancing, keeping your social bubble small, washing your hands and staying connected, especially with those who may be isolated or feeling lonely. We all have a responsibility to show up for one another and to keep each other safe.
Stay safe and healthy. Reach out. Stay connected. We are getting through this and our world is changing in ways that feel both uncomfortable and right. Let’s keep looking out for one another.