I believe the greatest benefit of our emotions is they are a window into our subconscious. They can be a powerful mirror if you are quiet enough to listen. I was 19 when I first heard “you only judge others for what you judge yourself for” and suddenly the people whom I couldn’t stand to be around, the personalities whom were nails on a chalkboard to me, suddenly became a reflection of my fears.
Jealousy is not an emotion I encounter often. She rarely shows up in my life. I have a “bloom where you’re planted” mentality and little aspiration for material wealth, so there isn’t much to envy. I am grateful for an amazing husband, a sweet little girl and a great family support system. Seriously…what more could I ask for?
Until I saw the woman on the dance floor.
I am a wedding photographer. In December I was shooting a reception and couldn’t help but notice this confident woman. She and her partner were having the time of their lives. She was cute as a button in her suspenders, top hot and crazy tie. She brought so much life and vitality to the room. The other guests seated at her table were constantly erupting in laughter when she was talking. I noticed that everywhere she went people just perked up. Her energy was contagious.
But why couldn’t I smile around her? Why did looking at her bring up these strange, unfamiliar emotions for me? What did she have that I wanted?
When the dance floor opened, she owned it. Whether her skills were good or not was completely irrelevant. She was out there for every song, never dropped her smile, and drug everyone along with her.
With one hand on my lens and the other hand on the trigger I just kept photographing her. Mesmerized. Trying to figure out the source of these emotions. It wasn’t attraction. “I’m not jealous of her being gay…what is this weird feeling?!?!?”
It hit me. Freedom.
She was free. Her posture and confidence screamed “I am who I am. It’s out of the closet. There are no secrets anymore. Hello world. This is me. Take it or leave it. I couldn’t care less what you think. I own who I am and am going to enjoy every second on earth that I can.”
Authenticity. Freedom. No skeletons. That’s what I want.
The hour drive home from that wedding and the days and weeks that followed I couldn’t get the image of her carelessly moving about the dance floor out of my head. Why did I feel like a bird in a cage? What is it I feel I need to come out of the closet about? What part of me is hiding in there?
Fast forward a couple months and I can’t answer this question clearly for you, but this is what I can tell you.
My motto for this year is to “fearlessly be my authentic self.”
What I have learned about myself is that I have been desperately searching for a label to put on my forehead to say “This! This is what I am. This is how I can be defined.” And it’s not there.
Our human minds desire labels. It allows us to put things into boxes. We hear one part of a person and fill in all the gaps so that we can make our assumptions and decide where that person fits in our organizational system.
I am stuck in the middle everywhere, which can feel quite lonely. There aren’t many places I can go where someone can get to know me and walk away saying “oh yeah, she’s totally one of us.” It’s usually like “Man, I absolutely LOVE this about her, but yeah….that part of her life I just cannot relate to/agree with/understand,” whatever the word may be. I’m craving a community where I can feel at home. A place where once a particular belief ,opinion or practice comes out of my mouth I’m not suddenly feeling awkward because people’s energy or tone has shifted. The feeling of “she’s cool, but she’s not really one of “us.” I want “my tribe,” fellow in-betweeners.
Want examples of what I’m talking about? Where do I even start….
I’m a Jesus follower…who doesn’t “go to” church. I respect people of all spiritual faiths and believe we have much more in common than separates us. I want to fight to protect their freedoms as much as my own.
I’m a crunchy, granola mom who co-sleeps and breastfed to age two, who also loves being a self-proclaimed work-a-holic. The season of my life I tried doing the at home thing were my least favorite of my 30 on earth. When I look back on those days and how NOT MYSELF I was, I just want to run back and rescue her. I love my time away from my daughter as much as my time with her.
Absolutely no political party fits me. I want to just put all of their “issues” stances in a line and cherry pick the ones that seem like common sense to me and flush the rest. So no matter who is “representing me” it’s going to be someone who I hope does some good and doesn’t absolutely screw up an area that is going to affect my life and our world.
I absolutely LOVE to travel, except that I don’t. I love being at home, inside my four walls. The best part of traveling is leaving and the best part is coming back home.
I am an introvert interior with an extrovert exterior. I absolutely love my time alone, deep conversations and introspection. But not at the cost of my FOMO. I love meeting new people, making friends with strangers, meetings and talking until I finally crash on the pillow.
I crave having my hands in multiple pots. I tried that whole “cutting it back” thing and it doesn’t work for me. I own a photography business, a network marketing business, am getting yoga teacher certified, and feel a deep desire to start this blog too. I’m on a board and involved in two organizations I love. Oh, but I also value quality time with myself, my husband, my daughter, my family and my friends. Everyone in my life and every book says it’s too much. But I don’t care. This is where I thrive. There are occasional days I think I’m insane but most days I’m really damn happy.
So when I meet someone new and they ask, “what do you do?” I cringe inside and have no clue how to answer this question. I spend more time with my family than any other area of my life so do I answer by saying I’m a wife and mom? I pay my bills primarily through my photography business and my Arbonne business, so do I tell them about those income streams? I’ve felt a calling to start this blog for years and now I am, so am I now a blogger? I teach two classes at the yoga studio a week, so I just let me students assume I’m a yoga teacher.
When I’m asked that dreaded, confusing question, I usually just grab one of my roles and present myself as that person, knowing I am leaving behind so much, and I have no idea which perspective of “who I am” they’re wanting to see. I know they’re just wanting to make conversation and figure out which box to file me inside their brain’s organizational system and if they knew it all they would just be confused and walk away.
So yeah….this blog is finally starting. I’ve been creating it in my mind for 6 years. I have so many things I know I am called to share, but I have been holding back. Why have I held back? Fear of judgment. There are people I love so much who may read my posts and love most of them and then come across “that one” that rubs them the wrong way and suddenly they don’t see me the same. At least this is the story in my head. That someone, somewhere will get upset, not like me, be offended, etc.
Here’s the problem though…I’ve known for six years that I’m supposed to write these stories down. The experiences I’ve had were given to me that I may share them. Allowing fear to stop me is ultimately, selfish.
So here’s my “coming out of the closet” moment. I’m an internal hot mess, doing the best I can with what I have and dead set on creating a better life for everyone: myself, my daughter, my community, my family, my friends, America and humanity. If I don’t take the veil off and show you who I really am then I cannot fulfill my purpose on earth.
I am here to tell you stories that will hopefully inspire you to look inward too. To continue your own personal growth curve. And to empower you to step into your purpose.
Subscribe on the homepage if you want updates when I post. Like I said earlier…there’s a lot going on. So I cannot commit to regularly scheduled posts. When something is on my heart, when I feel inspired, when I know I cannot stay silent, I will share. And if you want to listen, subscribe.
Question……do you have a skeleton in the closet? Are you living a life true to who you are? What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail (and that everyone would still love you after you did it)?
Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.