Friends, if you ever want to spend some quality time in the fetal position, I highly recommend starting a business that requires you to market your authentic self. If my own journey is anything to go on, there is nothing quite as effective in dredging up every single fear lurking in your unconscious and having each one parade before you, dancing for your attention.
Two weeks ago I had a wonderful opportunity to meet a friend that I had only spoken to while happily killing virtual monsters in World of Warcraft. (I know, folks, I know. I refuse to take on any shame for this. Gaming is damn fun.) I was visiting her city with my mom and sister, and she generously agreed to join us for breakfast. After maybe an hour of the standard, fun, social-level chat, she asked me about my wild feminine journey.
And suddenly I found myself in the euphoric, endlessly shocking, doing-without-doing space. I could feel my posture change, feel energy coursing through me, found myself saying things that I had no idea I was even thinking, but had the feel of deep truth to me. We ended up having a fascinating conversation about feminine and masculine forms
of power, and she gave me some invaluable suggestions on how I can further my own journey. It was wonderful, and I felt like we all got to connect on a deeper level, hearing more about each other’s inner worlds and sharing more of our own truth.
Fast forward seven hours, with now just my mom, sister and I sharing a meal, to find me rocking a-la-Rain-Man over my veggie fajitas, tears in my eyes, shrieking “oh my GOD! I’ve put a piece of my soul on the internet!!!” Just like I cannot fully describe the electric bliss of doing-without-doing, I cannot accurately capture the intense vulnerability of ‘publishing’ my own inner process.
Why do it then? Because you don’t get one without the other – or at least I don’t. It’s showing up authentically, stripped of social pretense, where the magic happens – where doing without doing is no longer new age babble, but reality – where I feel plugged in to some universal source – where I get to meet people on the level where I actually want to meet them. I hate small talk. But in order to not engage in it, I don’t get to be small. I have to show up as the authentic me – and that is someone who cares about the depth of people, who is fascinated by the inner life, who really wants to know the shape of your soul.
The thing is, being small feels safe. Being small allows me to continue on a path where I don’t have to stretch or grow or risk. Which brings me back to marketing, of all things. I did learn a bit about marketing over the course of getting two degrees in business, and the mechanics of starting and running a business have always fascinated me.
Little did I know it would be filled with gut-wrenching angst; there is a big, big difference in marketing a product, or marketing myself as an accountant, than in marketing myself as a coach. My soul is involved with coaching. Every fiber of my being is involved with coaching. Suddenly, marketing was feeling an awful lot like standing naked in the street, waving merrily as people walked by. I did what any evolving soul would do; curled myself into a ball and stayed there, supplied with a stock of Cadbury mini-eggs, until rescue arrived in the form of my own coach.
She asked me why the thought of marketing my own being was so paralyzing, and I told her the deep, secret truth. While I mostly can pass okay, at heart I’m a social loser freak girl. Just ask anyone who attended St. Priscilla’s grammar school in the 8o’s. Did she react with sympathy? No! “Oh, really? A social loser freak girl? And how is that identity keeping you safe?” (If you don’t occasionally want to shove your coach off the side of a steep cliff, she’s probably not doing her job.)
What is the truth in this situation? I haven’t been a social loser freak girl in a long time, but she is always there as a warm, lovely security blanket to wrap myself in when I’m terrified. A security blanket that will choke me eventually, but one that feels safe, one that keeps me comfortable. It’s letting go of that girl, honoring her for the protection she offered me in my young life, and stepping into the full being of who I am that has me laying on the floor surrounded by chocolate. It’s terrifying to shine, to be truly seen. If people reject social loser freak girl, so what? She is used to it. If people reject the authentic me, what then?
It’s in writing this that I realized the answer. My authentic self does not care. My authentic self cannot be rejected – she can be disliked and not appeal to people, but she has a mission, and she simply does not care what anyone thinks of her. That same tormented social loser freak girl knew she came into the world to help people. Thirty years later, I’ve figured out how, and there is not a damned thing that can keep me from that. My authentic self would walk through fire to finally be able to make a difference in the world. She will not be defeated by something as mundane as marketing.
I’m including this quote –though it’s everywhere at the moment, it’s worth repeating.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson,Return to Love
My questions for you are these – what old, false, safe identity are you hiding behind? What might happen if you allowed your true self to shine though? Who might you liberate with your own authentic presence?