Hiding in The Shadows

There are many people that don’t like to be seen. They prefer to hang out in the background and hope nobody notices them. Maybe you’re one of those people.

Personally, I’ve never been bothered by getting up in front of a crowd or even getting on camera. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hiding. I spent a lot of years creating a life I could hide behind. In a way, that’s how I was raised. My parents do that. They have a marriage and a life that they hide behind, but neither are actually happy where they are. Things “look right” even if they aren’t okay.

Being seen isn’t just about the willingness to get up in front of a crowd or do a Facebook live, being seen is about showing who you are, warts and all, to the outside world and then being okay with the response you get by doing so. I think for me, that was the hardest part. I wanted to be liked and so I tried to colour in between the lines so that people would like me. If I told the truth if I shared the pain, then people may not like me anymore and that was scary.

Even after I got over the idea that life needed to look a certain way, it was hard to let go of the worry of what everybody else would think. Even as I started writing these blogs and sharing some of this stuff, I worried about the response. I still wonder how many people I’ll lose as I move forward in this process.

It takes a certain amount of courage to come out of the shadows and stand in one’s truth, regardless of whether or not you’re comfortable with being in front of a crowd. There’s more to it than just getting on a stage or in my case, standing in front of a classroom of students. I’ve learned over the years that my emotions were too strong, that I was just a little too “powerful” and that I needed to keep a lid on it. I can still get those reactions from the people around me if I’m not able to hold back the tidal wave sufficiently enough to make them comfortable. The question that follows that is, “Why should I make people comfortable?”. The answer is easy, it’s because I want them to like me. It’s a loop, right? If I let one of those ideas go, I have to let the other go too. I’ve been hiding to make other people comfortable in order to get them to like me for almost as long as I can remember.

The truth is it’s actually harder to hide. It takes far more energy to keep a lid on it than it does to just show up. Although a little courage may be required to step forward, it’s nothing compared to the amount of energy required to stay hiding for long periods of time. I’ve hidden most of my life. “How do you just get up there and talk like that?” People ask me that all the time. That’s easy. I can still hide, even in front of a room full of people. As long as I kept my emotions to myself and didn’t share too much about my life, I was good.

At many points in my life, I’ve had people around me that thought I wasn’t even human. I could keep my emotions so well hidden, that people were checking to see if I was still human. Do you know how many people over the years have asked me if I even cared about them? I hid so well for so long, I tricked myself.

This path that I’ve been on has forced me into some degree of emotional acknowledgement, whether I wanted it or not. I’m far from perfect, but I’m getting better at at least acknowledging my own emotions, even if I still can’t fully express them all the time.

Have you ever been to a presentation or sat in a classroom and really wondered about the person that was presenting? What secrets are they hiding? What are they covering up? What is their truth? I promise you, almost every single one of those people has a truth you know nothing about. That’s part of the human experience. Even though they may be comfortable talking to a group about their subject matter, if they were asked to get up there and share their truth, they’d go run and hide about as quickly as they could. Being vulnerable, being human, being honest with ourselves and others, is often the thing that people struggle with the most, beyond the trauma and the pain, being real is the biggest challenge.

I don’t have magical answers here, except to say that if you can acknowledge yourself on the inside, it can make finding the courage to show it on the outside easier. It’s not a perfect system and there’s lots of healing of old messages that has to be done. But I do believe it is possible to be an authentic version of ourselves without hiding or morphing in some way to fit the situation and the people around us.

Love to all.

Laura

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