Two words: Online. Dating.
(I know, probably not what you thought I was going to say.)
I’m fairly certain that nothing on earth could possibly inspire someone to want to embellish or exaggerate more than online dating. It is simply impossible not to feel compelled to try to convey that “yes, of course, I most certainly lead a fabulous and interesting life full of incredible adventures and awesome activities!” … even when the reality is that most nights it’s me, my cat, my yoga mat, and maybe a walk around the neighborhood or a cup of tea and a good book (ok, ok, the real deal: a cup of tea and terrible television shows).
And really, all of us engage in these shenanigans. We fear that other people will reject us if we’re not —
(And so on, and so forth.) So, we try to portray this image of ourselves that we imagine will be well-received by those around us. We tell ourselves that if we can manage to make ourselves appear to embody those qualities, we’ll be needed, loved, whole, complete.
But what if we didn’t start from a place of fear? What if we granted ourselves the freedom to let go of these masks and be our authentic selves? What if we let that be enough?
Christina Feldman tells us that when we renounce this creating of the self, we can “learn how to stand in the ground of sufficiency, confidence, completeness, and freedom.” She suggests that in this act of renunciation, there is an “unshakeable freedom, fearlessness, homelessness — in which we find our home in all things.”
I don’t disagree.
But there’s something about the simplicity of this statement that belies the extreme difficulty inherent in letting go of the deep long-term relationship patterns that have been developed from a lifetime of experiences and feedback. We’ve (right or wrong) connected the dots and drawn conclusions about what version of The Self others will like… and, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a death grip on “my image.” (I mean, for god’s sake, just a moment ago I almost lied to you about the fact that at night I’m more likely to zone out in front of the tv, than to read a good book!)
Yet even though letting go of our persona flies in the face of these deep-seeded habits, sometimes we manage to do it — to let our guard down and share the Real Deal. For me, these are moments of clarity, strength, courage, and compassion. In other words: they feel good.
Embracing The Scary Stuff
While it’s easiest for me to connect with these moments of renunciation of the self in writing, as we head into our ninth teacher training weekend, my intention (which I’m sharing publicly, so I have to follow through with it ;)) is to allow myself to have one of those moments in real life. To prod myself to speak up when I know that I might speak haltingly, laugh nervously, give the wrong instructions, or just plain freeze. (I feel queasy just thinking about it, which is a sure sign that I would benefit from following through with this plan.)
Will it actually happen? Maybe, maybe not. Will that be okay? Of course. (I can always try again some other time.) But either way, I’ll be taking note of my experiences/feelings and, as the always-wise Michelle put it, dropping breadcrumbs that I can come back to later.
And with that, I’m off to watch some truly horrendous television!