Being ‘out there’ is a strange thing.
I don’t mean ‘out there’ as in being strange…I will own that one outright.
But out there. Out here. I’m looking at all of you, looking at and listening to ME.
I’m sure you would think that a person who has gyrated on a rock and roll stage, done TV commercials, speaking gigs and given workshops to large groups of people would be pretty comfy in the spotlight. And for the most part, that’s true.
It’s not that I don’t care what people think of of me, and whether they like me or not…whoever says they don’t is lying. Don’t we all want people to think we’re cool, fun to be around, and have something important to say? That’s kind of the part of being a person, isn’t it, because if you were a total ASSHOLE and didn’t care about any of that stuff you would be a psychopath and probably out killing people. (remember, I’m re-watching Dexter.)
I have always had a sure sense of myself when it comes to owning who I am. I will have pink hair and tattoos and wear clothes I’m ‘not supposed to wear’ for my age (you know what I have to say about that!). I will not apologize for my loud laugh and brash 10 year old boy poop-humor. I get nervous like anyone would, but I’m not afraid of the possibility that I may very well mess up something in front of a bunch of people because that just doesn’t get my panties in a bundle. Chances are, if that happened, I wouldn’t die.
But I don’t like plastering my photo everywhere. I don’t like the thought that people may get the wrong idea that I ‘think I’m so great’ and therefore always trying to get all up in their face or on their screen. That part of being in the spotlight does make me uncomfortable. It may come from my mother trying to get me to “Sing!” in front of anyone that happened to come for a visit, like we were in a real-life musical where people just burst out into random song at any given moment.
More than likely it’s probably because I have a huge standard for myself (and others) for being authentic. Nothing bothers me more than the hypocrisy of not being authentic. And let’s face it! Whenever you’re in the public eye, you are not being 100% authentic! It’s impossible.
Even if all you do to be ‘out there’ is post on Facebook once in a while–are you always 100% authentic? Are your kids really that perfect all the time? Don’t you kind of yell at your spouse when they leave crumbs on the counter AGAIN? Aren’t you kind of putting your arm at that just-so position so that it doesn’t look like a giant ham-hock? (I know of what I speak.)
So I’m sharing with you my dilemma here.
I want to be Real in an UnReal world. But still be ‘cool’, even though I’m flawed. It’s not easy.
For a long time the whole thing puzzled me, a lot. At a therapy session years ago, I was rambling on about my ever-ongoing frustrations of trying to find my ‘thing’. And why, when I feel this authenticity pull, do the things I’m interested in always have to be on a stage? In front of a camera? On other people’s computer screens? In books that they read?
Why can’t I be happy just doing something quiet and not so much in the public eye? “Am I really that vain?” I asked my poor shrink.
“I don’t think you’re vain at all,” he said without missing a beat. “I think you just need to be heard.”
Drop the Metal Band Mic.
I’ve had two HUGE AH-HA moments in my life, and this was one of them. It all made so much sense.
Now I’m not going to make this a deep-dive into my childhood experiences and inner psyche, but I could definitely see how this was and is a thing that has carried on from those younger days. And it doesn’t make me special. It doesn’t make me vain.
It makes me just like everyone else who needs to, wants to, and should be heard.
Did you need to read those words? That You Need to Be Heard?
I think it’s fair to say that many of us haven’t been heard enough in our lives. And it’s important. It reminds us that we are important.
So next time you are feeling like you can’t understand why something frustrates you so much–an ever-present argument with a loved one, often feeling ignored by a trusted friend, not feeling quite-right unless you get in the last word or get that article published– know that these are all part of wanting to be heard.
Understanding that let myself off the hook a bit. And it also loosened my grip on what I thought I wanted or needed. Would I like to be on TV now? Sure, having my own talk show has always been a dream of mine, truth be told. Do I hope the book I’m currently writing will become a best-seller? Of course! But these aren’t things I feel I need to do anymore in order to feel validated. Because, thanks to you, my wonderful tribe and clients, my good friends, and my dear family, I know you hear me.
And I make sure I surround myself by people that I can safely tell if I feel like I’m not being listened to, because they would care enough to make sure it happens.
Now whether or not you always like or care about what I have to say, I can’t guarantee that. And believe-you-me, my dear husband could use a lesson in listening sometimes. (to which he would exclaim, “What?” if I said that out loud to him right now.)
But that’s ok. Because I will keep talking to all of you anyway. I’ve always been told I’m my own best audience.
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