By Rebecca Rusinko
Last week, I posted – very much accidentally – a live video on my Facebook profile. It was meant for the Wild Heart community, as a response to a particular challenge, and when my entire news feed was filled with the lovely women from this community, my brain told me I was already there. So I went ahead and went “live” and it wasn’t until my dear Tara “liked” the video that I realized I’d made a mistake.
Apparently, I don’t go outside my comfort zone much anymore, because what I experienced was a nearly foreign rush of complete alarm, and a level of shock that didn’t subside for hours in spite of taking the video down right away. It felt like exposure, or like I’d been found out.
Why is that?
Why is it that I had such a strong reaction, even though I was still only “in front of” a very limited number of people, all of whom I’m fairly certain would want only the best for me? Why would that feel like I was way out on a limb? Why was I so afraid to own my own words so thoroughly, even for just two minutes?
I think I’ve gotten a little bit used to anonymity.
I’ve never really known what I want to do with my life. I thought that at some point, some sort of purpose would appear, that I would know it when I saw it. More than three decades in, I’ve had some seasons that felt very purposeful, but nothing has “stuck.” Nothing has provided that sort of long-term vision I kept thinking I would eventually find.
It makes me feel like a mistake.
I cling to the stories of people who were in their 40’s before they found their calling because it makes me feel like I have time. In the meantime, it’s been making me antsy and anxious, and that makes me want to hide. Makes me want to stay anonymous.
Here’s the thing: What if it’s not so much that I want to be anonymous to the world, as perhaps…I’ve been trying to be anonymous to myself? Maybe I edit, and polish, and decorate, as a way of running from myself. Hiding from myself. It’s not that I don’t want to own my words in front of you, I just don’t want to own them at all. They become too real when I own them. I worry about being mis-interpreted or mis-understood, or worse, that I will be understood but that you won’t like what you see.
Words are powerful. They are active and dynamic, they have an energy all their own, and once they are shared, they belong to the fabric of the universe forever.
This is a beautiful thing for us writers, and it’s why we do what we do, but it’s also an incredibly weighty thing for day-to-day living when words can seem so cheap. If we’re being honest, I wish I could be more edited in real life sometimes. Not all the times – sometimes I love my ability to say what needs to be said when no one else wants to say it – but sometimes I have a small breakdown, or say something I don’t really mean, or get a little snippy and wish I hadn’t, and I wish I could delete. Put something more winsome there. Something kinder and gentler, or more worthwhile. I wish the real me weren’t such a messy chick.
Hiding, however, is not the answer. I’m tempted to hide, but that’s not showing up for life. Growth does not come on the whisper of wishes. It comes, most often, with a certain amount of discomfort, and awkwardness and hard work. It comes with staying involved when we really want to fold.
I want to remember that I’ve chosen to engage with the world. This is where real life is. I’ve heard people say that “real life” is paying bills, doing chores, running errands, and being responsible, but I say those are the things we do to enable real life. We do them out of love, to nurture and care for our loved ones. Real life, though? Real life is love and connection and grace, family and friends, adventure and experience.
I went out for ice cream with a friend, and she’s so good to me, and so good for me, but I know I need to get really honest with myself before I see her, because she wants the whole truth, as messy and raw as it is.
I try to clean it up a little, put some shine on it, and she sees right through that, with laser focus on the heart of the matter. She has hard-won wisdom, that one, and she delivers it with grace and gentleness, but won’t let me hide.
She refuses to let me play small. She told me she thinks I’m reinventing myself.
Perhaps I am. Slowly but surely, I’m getting more comfortable with the wide open space of the unknown.
Instead of looking around for a space to hide, I’m stretching my limbs, stretching my boundaries. More and more, though, I’m so aware of how much I need community to bring me out of hiding.
I took my first real yoga class a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been doing yoga for years, but hidden, learning from DVDs and YouTube videos. I was afraid that the instructor would tell me I’ve been doing it all wrong, but it seems I’m just fine.
It felt so good to be watched over, called up, told I can be strong, told I’m allowed to rest, told to breathe, but all the while reminded to listen to my own body and heart, to decide for myself when I could push a little farther, and when I needed a moment to rest.
What a beautiful picture of community.
This is what we do for one another in the Wild Heart Writers community. We invite one another deeper into our stories. We create safe space to try new things without worrying about how we look. We push each other to keep going, keep digging, keep speaking the truth. And then, on the days when the soul work overwhelms us, we remind one another to be gentle with ourselves, to care for ourselves, to rest when we need to.
Let’s come out of hiding. Let’s be bold. Let’s tune in to the larger truth and the bigger picture.
Let’s make our words count, loves.
Latest posts by Becca Rusinko (see all)
- Come Out of Hiding: Write Yourself Free, Find your Community - September 24, 2016