Note: This is a follow up post to My Gnarly Cave-Like Fear of Showing Up Bigger In The World).
There are two fears I am still working through around showing up bigger in the world.
Fear #1: People will only like me for my coolness, not for me.
This is a weird fear. It goes like this:
As a kid, I found it very hard to belong. I was too weird, too smart, too good at school, too actually-interested in the homework, too nerdy, too weirdly dressed, too poor, and too not-Christian.
So I developed various coping strategies to try to “be liked”.
The biggest one was to be impressive. To know things others didn’t know, to be wise, to have profound insights that wow people, to be able to do things others couldn’t do, to be so weird that people noticed and talked about me. To be notorious. To be different. I love it when I’m the only one who can open a jar that’s stuck (no, I don’t work out, I just grew up on a farm). I tell freaky stories about my childhood, about my mom’s crack-head boyfriends, my dad and brothers butchering a deer on the dining room table (Did I mention I grew up on a farm? Did you get that I had a really bizarre, unique, and weird childhood? Did you get that part?)
Yeah…pretty much anything for people to say “Wow!” and be all fascinated by me.
But as soon as I get the payoff, I feel resentful. Because I really want to be liked for who I am.
I want to be loved for who I am, not for what happened to me, or what I can do. I don’t want to have to perform to be liked. I don’t want people to think I’m different than they are, I want to feel included and like I belong.
So it’s a very self-defeating strategy. As these things usually are. So I’m trying to learn to show up around other people just as me, without doing that whole song and dance.
How it gets in the way of me showing up “bigger”:
I don’t want the things that really matter to me, like spirituality and healing, to become part of an inauthentic strategy to get people to like me.
So, I still have this pattern but I’m slowly unlearning it. It’s a fine line to walk, to show up bigger, because I’m afraid this old strategy will co-opt what I’m doing and use it. That I’ll somehow become addicted to being noticed, to getting more subscribers, more comments, etc.
Fear #2: I will become a boring mindless automaton who only cares about being “productive”.
I stumbled upon this fear while trying to understand this part of me that just will not go to bed at a reasonable hour. The conversation went something like this:
Emma: Hmm, so I’m noticing that I feel happier and get more done if I wake up around 9, instead of noon. What do you think about going to bed around 11 or midnight instead of 2 or 3am?
Stucknessything: What, so you can be more “productive”? So you can “get things done?” What kind of B.S. is that? Is that why we did all this personal growth work, to turn into a mindless worker-bee automaton tool? You think you will finally be legitimate if you do that? That you’ll get the pat on the head from society that you’ve always wanted? Well f**k that! I’m watching House and then I’m going to play Runescape and eat ice cream and I’ll go to bed when I damned-well feel like it! Your conformity BS can go f**k itself!
I tried empathizing and talking with it, but I didn’t get that far with it yet. It’s super terrified that I’ll lose my authenticity, become addicted to social rewards of legitimacy, and lose touch with my true self completely. It thinks of itself as my “last stand”.
Why am I sharing these? It’s not like I’ve figured them out.
I’m sharing them because my point on my last post is that you don’t have to know how you are going to get through something to start looking at it.
Sometimes you finally look at something, and it just falls away. It dissolves before your eyes.
Sometimes, it takes a lot of looking, a lot of conversations, a lot of self-love and insight before something is really worked through. That’s OK. Just start by saying hello to it.
The other thing I want to point out is that I’m damn glad these fears are their entrenched stuckness are there. They are looking out for me. Yeah, I’ve got to find a way to do what they are doing in ways that don’t have such a high cost. I want to heal the stuff that has them so afraid: the wounds that keep me feeling like I don’t belong and who I am and what I do is not legitimate.
They are protecting some things that are vital and important to me: my authenticity, my connection to my true self, and my longing to be seen and loved and valued for who I am.
But if they weren’t there, dogging for that healing, making it impossible to ignore them, I wouldn’t be protected at all. They are the lions at the gate, and I want them to be there as long as I need them to be.
An essential part of true healing is valuing and loving the strategies that are trying to meet your needs in the best way they know how.
Just like feelings, your “stucknesses” and patterns are messages about what is deeply important to you.
Don’t ignore them, force your way past them, or make them wrong.
First, if you ignore them, they’ll just silently make your life miserable. You’ll end up depressed because you’ll be using a ton of energy to combat them.
Second, you won’t get the true healing and liberation and freed up energy that comes from understanding and working out actually helpful ways to meet the needs they are advocating for.
So go for the gold. Keep looking at the thing, with love, until it’s no longer a thing.
The only caveat to this: When you really have done the healing work, sometimes you just have the habit energy left. In that case, when it comes up, it’s OK to shift your attention away from “the thing”, and do whatever it is you were aiming for. And if you give it a few minutes to acknowledge it and its fears and really important mission, it will understand. Cause you know, you’re old friends now.
(P.S. Props to the inimitable Havi for inventing the word “Biggification”!)