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Becoming Visible: Facing My Fear of Authenticity

Updated: May 28

In the process of promoting Our Table events, I have turned to many women, gotten vulnerable, and said “I need your help.” Hardwired as an independent over-functioning perfectionist, saying those four words feels like halting a team of racehorses.


But when I did that, when I got vulnerable, a friend shared with me an important piece of feedback. Once she opened my ears to it, I began to hear it everywhere… ultimately from 10+ women within 2 days. That feedback was a version of:

That is an amazing idea, so needed, but I don’t have anything to contributed because… I am too old I am too young I don’t have a story to tell

Even after hearing it over and over, I still feel a jolt of shock followed by heartache. Shock because I know in my bones that each and every one of us has an important story to tell. Heartache because I am well acquainted with the conflicting feelings of “not being enough” and resentment for being unseen and unheard by others. The experience has made me turn inward and assess where I am on my journey of worthiness and facing my fear of showing up authentically.


Pre-burnout I did not think this was a problem for me at all. I was raised to speak up and out, take up space... to perform well in most social and business environments. But as it turns out, that was the exact problem… I was taught to perform. To fit in and stand out. To never make a “wrong” move. To act from my head, not my heart.


While I had a reputation for being a confident straight shooter, on the inside I was overanalyzing every angle, ruminating on the “wrong” thing I said or the silence I held for too long. It was very draining, disconnecting and lonely.


Burnout and the enforced stillness of pandemic allowed my awareness of that dichotomy to float to the surface. I realized that in social situations, I instinctively distrusted my natural inclinations. I distrusted my ability to be present, to listen with my heart and respond from my heart, to trust that my heart has access to all of the skills I hone. Ironically, my coping mechanisms created a self-fulfilling prophecy of my heart feeling invisible... irrelevant...resentful...

Where, how and why did I learn to cope this way? There are many, many, MANY explanations I continue to untangle. But one of the biggest relates to confronting rapidly progressing rare (as thought at the time) neurological conditions beginning at the age of 9. I was having an experience none of my peers could understand. An experience that constantly found ways to separate me from my peer group during a point in life that fitting in is survival. And so, I adapted.


While that adaptation served a purpose, it was armor that has gotten very heavy and restrictive. It was keeping me from being seen and heard authentically. It was keeping me from feeling visible and valued. It was sapping my energy and holding me back.


A branch of my healing from burnout has been facing my fear of authenticity. I have cobbled together a few practices that I would like to share. I used the word “practices” because I want to set the expectation for myself that these are not a checkboxes to be checked (and boy do I LOVE a checklist). These are continuous, never-ending processes of nurturing my internal ecosystem so that I can show up more authentically more often and my heart can experience relevancy.

Tattooed a Reminder to Never Pour from An Empty Cup

I am so incredibly apt to work beyond my mental and physical capacity in the name of “serving others”. Operating from a place of exhaustion is never, ever helpful… Just ask my husband and kids! 😬 And yet I continue to be seduced by “exhaustion as a status symbol”.


So, I have literally tattooed a reminder onto my forearms. One image facing inward as a reminder of self-care and self-compassion, but not completely closed off. The other facing outward, more open, but still with an element of self-love. I use the image to remind me of the buddhist concept of Strong Back, Soft Front.

These tattoos serve as constant reminders but were also a step toward living authentically. Coming from a straight laced culture, the choice to get tattoos at all, let alone on a visible part of my body, required a new level of self acceptance.

Embodiment

Finding my “Comfortable Edge

Boundaries & Permission Slips

Creating A Regular Safe Space for Restorative Connection

My Next (Un)Comfortable Edge: Using My Image on Our Table Promotional Material


In working to build a community around Our Table, I have tentatively waded back into the waters of social media. While searching out experts in the social media arena, I concluded that I would be remised to overlook the use of Reels (short Instagram/Facebook videos). My conclusion has a one-word explanation… ALGORITHMS. The thought of filming myself for social media or even taking my own picture instantly brings my shoulders to my ears and turns my stomach. I was hurriedly searching for ways to create reels without using my image. I initially justified my reaction by citing the mental health related ethical concerns around the use of social media and its effect on users (myself included). My very legitimate justification was playing well until Steph Genco, a businesswoman I look up to, said

“But you are your business. We need to see your face.”

In that moment I realized the real cause of my yucky feelings was my ongoing hard feelings about my body image. It is heartbreaking to hear the ways beautiful, strong, bold women cringe when they look in the mirror or their picture. And I am one of those women. How often do we hide and make ourselves invisible because of the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies? I realized the fear in my gut was a signal not to avoid but to proceed with caution. And to give myself the grace to dip in and out of that discomfort. I am grateful for your grace as I try.



 

Disclaimer: This is a "one woman shop"! I was not blessed with proofing nor spelling super powers. If you spot a mistake, comment, email or DM me! I thank you in advance for your compassion and grace. ❤️

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