What if there were no gap between the way others see us and the way we see ourselves? What if our degree of authenticity were tangible and we felt safe to honestly answer the polite but often horribly insincere "how are you?" greeting with an in-the-moment glimpse at our real Self? What if we knew ourselves well and stayed in tune with ourselves in ways that allowed for fusion of our thoughts, feelings, and words in those moments?
Sadly, our busy, happy, convenient Western culture often conditions us to stay at the surface of our own lives to our detriment. Few of us are supported to know our feelings, sit with our discomfort, and learn about ourselves in the process. Even as I write this, I recognize the tendency in myself to gloss over the painful places. Sometimes it's just too raw; other times I'm exhausted with the effort; often I feel scared and unsafe rather than supported and held in the midst of my messiness. The pain and heartache I've created for myself by my own limited thinking and small ideas is incredulous as I look back over my four decades on the planet, and I know there are still ways I contribute to my own pain by my unexamined perspectives in this very moment.
For me, the process of getting comfortable with my own messiness has been a journey. I don't want to embrace my contradictions, but if I can't hold space for and accept my own contradictions, I absolutely am unable to give others room to do the same. I don't want to be in process, always figuring stuff out, and learning and growing beyond the childish thinking of yesterday, knowing that tomorrow I very well may find today's thinking immature and limited. And yet, it is in accepting my imperfections, incompleteness, and uncertainty that I can in fact move out of and beyond the current ways I am stuck in my life into new horizons and vistas that are as of now unknown to me.
One of my all-time favorite children's stories is The Velveteen Rabbit. What if it's true that the only way to become real is to accept all the places we are tattered and torn and that the process of accepting ourselves in all of the messiness is what results in beauty and hope? What if this year we commit to becoming increasingly real - with ourselves and with each other? What if we practice trusting ourselves and each other in new ways? What if we set an intention to grow in our conscious awareness of how we are feeling about ourselves and our lives and instead of trying to "fix" it, we just let it be? What if the next time somebody says, "How are you?" we respond with a more honest answer? And what if the next time we start to ask "How are you?" we pause and make a conscious choice to really listen for the answer and hold space for the other in new ways?
What are your intentions for becoming a more real YOU in 2019? How do you hope to lean in to authenticity in ways that feel good for you?
This Extrovert's Attempt to Use My Words to Make Sense of My Life