Yesterday, I found myself crying at my laptop. So struck, was I, but the realisation that the social situations that I had dreaded and feared; that had imprisoned me throughout my teens and twenties in a cage of self-loathing and bitter disappointment; could have been so simply altered if I’d have an intention of letting myself be seen.
It’s only taken me writing for 351 consecutive days and I’ve finally crafted something powerful enough to draw out some actual feeling. SCORE!
I think this particularly hit home, because I was putting this into practice – for reals – at the same time as writing. I was going out for dinner with some former colleagues, including good friends, acquaintances and people that I hadn’t met before. I felt particularly vulnerable here, for a range of reasons, but primarily because I was meeting people who worked somewhere I used to work; a place I left, without another job to go to, since which I have set up my business. So I think, like most people would, I felt in some sense a need to show them that I was doing okay; that I’d made something of myself. Just to be clear – this came from me, my ego, my judgement and my insecurity, not them. Despite knowing this, however, I still felt pretty anxious beforehand.
But having explored this idea of authenticity lately, I repeated my mantra, borrowed from Brene Brown: “Do not shrink. Do not puff up. Just stand in your sacred ground.” And I set myself an intention of being authentic; of letting myself be really seen, as I am, including potential vulnerability.
And guess what? I think I enjoyed it more than any other social gathering we’ve ever had.
Looking back, I think when we’ve met previously, I have unwittingly approached all or most of those situations from a viewpoint of trying to prove something; to fit in; to hide vulnerability; to ‘not to be found out’. That’s the good old impostor syndrome at work.
And it’s this that brought me to tears yesterday – which brings me to tears again now – thinking about how tiring this must have been. How sad, that I approached what should have been opportunities to truly connect and make bonds, with a mindset of ‘not being found out.’
No wonder I’ve always considered myself to be anti-social. Maybe I’m not ‘socially anxious’ after all – maybe I’m just exhausted by trying to pretend to be that someone ‘better’ than I believe I am.
I think of that analogy I shared a few weeks ago. The diamond, covered in sh*t, that we paint nail-polish over.
I think I’m tired to showing off the nail-polish. I’m ready to strip it off, and let whatever is underneath really be seen. Including the shit.
Maybe I’m having a moment. Maybe I’m hormonal. Maybe I’ll forget all of this next time I’m in an anxiety-provoking situation. I don’t know…
All I know for now is that when I set myself that goal of being genuine – of being myself – I felt better about being around other people before, during and after the event itself.
And rather than just telling myself, ‘I am enough,’ for once… I actually felt it.