show up. it was my phrase/word of the year that I chose back in January. Honestly, it's really hard for me. Showing up fully, committing to what I'm doing, is hard. It requires a level of trust in oneself that doesn't come by chance.
I have been told that I am confident and poised in public situations. That isn't really how I feel inside. I've been told that I am formal, that I make people feel like they need to be careful, that they need to walk on eggshells. Someone told me that my own mother thought I needed to learn to let loose.
Very, very hard. I don't like to drink past a very light buzz. I don't like to be out of control. This can lead to awful cycles of anger, yelling, sarcasm, and self-loathing that I just can't seem to stop. I get mad at not being able to control things, or not being on time, or on making a mistake again, or expecting too much.
Showing up takes a certain amount of trusting others, and of not needing their acceptance. I censor what I write here, what I put out into the world on instagram or facebook. I got burned once, you see. I posted something like, "Tea? Check! Breakfast? Check! Lesson books and work samples for reference? Check! Self-imposed unreasonable time constraint? Check! Let report writing begin!" and was told by the powers that be that it was unprofessional and would make parents think I wasn't giving my work enough earnest dedication. Friends, I was nothing if not earnestly dedicated. In fact, I worried that I was seen as taking things too seriously and tried hard to be positive and light in my communications. Nope. I did it wrong again. Ever since then, I have been very leery of getting too close to anyone in a work situation, or of saying anything remotely negative in a forum where someone might see it who shouldn't.
But see, the internet is weird. When I first went online back in the age of dial-up bulletin boards, it was a closed environment. You knew who was reading. Public posts were only public to the few people who used the service, which seldom included anyone I ever saw in my day-to-day life. Now, it's those faraway strangers and online friends, but it's also your boss and your neighbor down the street, and the kid who babysits for you, and the ladies at church. Back to best behavior. No safe space here.
I've spent my life trying hard to be who people needed me to be, or who they expected me to be. I try to follow the rules, even when I'm not sure what they are. Sharing openly about my life always feels like too much. I am leery of talking too much about my spouse or my child. I'm afraid to be seen too clearly.
When we dive into the Goose Girl story next week, I hope to explore this question of being seen and of speaking our truth. They're important themes in the story for me. You might find something else -- I'm pretty sure you will. These stories hold up a mirror to what we most need to see.
I'm still committed to showing up, and acknowledging the scariness of it. Here I am. See me.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.