Being Seen

Happy 2015! It is a new year, a new day, a new perspective. I have started this year off in a mellow way. For some reason (maybe having the flu) I have a very laid back view on this year, and maybe my engine just has not revved up yet.

I have been reading and just finished a book: “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer. An interesting book for me, as I hate asking for help from others. Yes. I am more of the do-it-myself variety. Asking for help means I have to trust others, and from past experience “others” can let you down, and not be there with what they said they would do. So I rarely ask. I am a product of my childhood where individuals often did not come through for me. Alas, I do not often ask. So I thought this book would be a good one for me to read.

I had an aha moment. Asking and being seen. One of my life pet peeves is not being seen. Somehow feeling invisible for much of my life (remember my dad felt that children should be seen and not heard) has been a pain point for me. I want to be seen and heard. Thus this ideas from Palmer especially resonated with me:

“There’s a difference between wanting to be looked at and wanting to be seen. When you are looked at, your eyes can stay blissfully closed. You suck energy, you steal the spotlight. When you are seen, your eyes must be open, as you are seeing and recognizing your witness. You accept energy and you generate energy. You create light. One is exhibitionism, the other is connection. Not everybody wants to be looked at. Everybody wants to be seen.” Page 201

I crave connection. To me there is no point in a relationship if there is no connection. While I have not told you much about Palmer’s book, I highly recommend her story. It is a long read, but she takes you through her triumphs and setbacks as a street performer, musician, wife, and friend. She easily is able to ask total strangers to crash at their home, but has a hard time asking her husband for money. I am the complete opposite. I can ask Chris for almost anything, and have a hard time asking friends, colleagues, and strangers for help. I know that 9 times out of 10, Chris will be there for me (no one is perfect). Yet, I do not know if I have those odds with everyone else in my life. Sad I know, but it is how I feel after being burned.

What do you want most? I do not want to be looked at, I want to be seen.

Being Me and Being Seen

What does it mean to be me? Saying what is on my mind. Not having a filter. Laughing when the urge hits me, even when sometimes it might not be appropriate. Going there. Yes, I mean sometimes going there, to the gutter, and sometimes it is the wrong time. Listening wholeheartedly. Saying yes way too much. Rarely crying, but when it happens, it is because something hits my emotional core, or when someone sees and speaks to a raw part of myself.

I struggled so much during my childhood and even into my college years with being enough — wondering if I was enough. Was I pretty enough? Was I small enough? Was I smart enough? Was I good enough? Enough with all the enoughs. Eventually I got fed up. Eventually I lost it. Eventually I just wanted to be me.

As I got older, and I had the ability to see life in hindsight, I saw a little girl who loved children, who loved to be childlike, who wanted to play, but who had to keep life together and make sure that from the outside everything was okay. In many ways, having the facade of normalcy, was what she wanted. She just wanted to be normal, and in some ways trying to prove her life was normal concealed to those around her what was really happening. Sort of like a company that needs more employees, but rather than the current employees showing that, they just work harder and longer, instead of making it apparent that what was needed was more bodies and minds to help.

All this came to me after reading a recent blog post from Emily Parkinson Perry’s. I have shared her blog before, and her words are always an inspiration to me. This quote about authenticity made me think about being me.

“To me, being authentic means being unapologetically you. It means laughing out loud, accepting your faults, being present with pain, and okay with uncertainty. It means saying you’re sorry, or that you don’t know the answer. It means saying, ‘I love you’, and allowing yourself to drop into the free-fall feeling of it. It means allowing yourself to truly be seen.”

It took until I was a senior in college, but I finally understood that being me meant not hiding behind what others wanted of me, that I could be me as loud as I wanted without apology. And I am. I am loud, and sometimes emotional, opinionated, and strong-willed. I know what I want, and sometimes it is hard to get me to change my mind. Even if I am wrong. It is hard for me to say “I’m sorry” and I will always tell you if I do not know something. Then later she says:

“Your authenticity lies in the moments when you’re caught off-guard; when you blush at the compliment, laugh at your own mistake, or get caught singing in the car. Those are the precious gifts you give to the world—they are the moments when you let down your guard and allow yourself to be seen—you, as your beautiful, true, authentic self.  When you let yourself be seen, it gives others the courage to do the same, and the world needs more of that.”

I love, love, love this. It happened last week when a co-worker asked me something out of the blue. She saw me at my rawest, and that made me cry. Or when I said burger instead of booger, and Chris could not stop laughing at me. I was seen, and I laughed and I cried.