In my small group ‘wisdom circle’ at yesterday’s Thought Leader Gathering, the question before us was "What gifts do you have hidden in your attic?", meaning, ‘What personal dreams, thoughts, actions, etc. do you withhold from the world?’.
Most of those in our small group were pretty ‘out there’ types, used to expressing ourselves freely, but even so each of us could identify a level at which we still keep ourselves hidden, afraid our true selves would be ‘too much’ or somehow ‘inappropriate’ if spoken out loud.
When pressed for details, a well-known creativity coach in our group described his hidden gift as the urge to "sing instead of speaking; write fiction instead of essays", and paint his dreams. Another, a high-level corporate firebrand, admitted that she really doesn’t work very hard… that she spends quite a bit of work time in silent contemplation on the deck, looking out over the ocean. The big ideas come to her once or twice a week; she doesn’t need to slave under a clock 8-10 hours a day, and if she did they probably wouldn’t come at all. But she doesn’t tell anyone this simple truth for fear they’d judge her for knowing that life doesn’t have to be so hard.
For all of us there was an inhibition, a subtle (& sometimes not so subtle) bridling that keeps us from being fully ourselves.
Now there is no doubt that there are merits to bridling some impulses –
no one is suggesting we hurt or defame one another – but what if this
inhibition we all seem to feel is a mass hypnotic trance, an illusion of ‘normalcy’ that denies us our true emotional range as human beings? What is so terrible in this day and age about being different, standing out, or being ‘inappropriate’? Who IS this Arbitrar of the Appropriate, anyway?! Thank Goddess we no longer burn witches in America, and still have the Constitutional right of free speech, though many appear afraid to use it these days.
The truth is I feel liberated when someone next to me is ‘outrageous’ – I feel my spirit lighten and begin to rise a little, and I gain courage for going beyond fear and my own limits of the verbotten.
We moved seats and did another round, this time the question on how our withheld gift has already started showing up in the world…
For me part of the answer to this question has been taking a stand in my approach to online communications. As a intuitively-motivated woman in a largely male-dominated technical field, I can’t help but ‘stand out’ a little, not always comfortably. While my entire industry seems to be moving towards slick templates & complex functionality within an impersonal wrapper that somehow feels
both over-crowded and sterile, I’ve consciously kept my aesthetic
warm, simple and personal, designed for ease and the way a person might actually use
I’m not afraid to use color and engage the senses. I like being a woman, and honor the natural sensitivity and sensibility I was born with. Still, it’s been a process for me to come to self-acceptance and an open acknowledgment of my values.
A big step in my public emergence from the closet was starting this blog. It wasn’t easy. I was afraid writing about beauty would make me appear too ‘soft’; that undertaking this passion of my heart wasn’t ‘professional’ enough; that exposing my aesthetic & spiritual underpinnings might make me appear naive or irrelevant in this fast-moving world I work in.
But at the end of the day (as they say in England) that’s what’s in my heart. This is my true authentic self showing up in the world. What’s most exciting to me about all this is realizing that my small courage can catalyze courage in others. How the permission I give myself is like a key that unlocks permission in others and magically allows more of us to be exactly as we are. It’s like a courage contagion! 🙂
So here’s to each of us unbridling our inner outrageousness and releasing it to run free, like a courage meme rippling its way out into the world…