exposed

January 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm 5 comments


It sure can feel scary to be “out there”.

This is the view out our kitchen door. Our mud room has been ripped off and now we are completely exposed. Our once snug inner sanctuary now opens immediately onto frozen tundra, wicked winds, and bitter cold. The caution tape is stretched across to remind us not to step into the eight foot deep hole that looms below.

It reminds me of  life.

I thought for a long time that I was shy by nature. I thought I was shy because I had strong opinions, abilities, and ideas and kept them to myself. Looking back I see clearly that what looked like shyness was fear of being too seen, too vulnerable, and too open to criticism. I was fearful.

Like any fearful person I sought safety. I strove to be invisible because invisible felt safe. I quietly excelled in school. I quietly observed all that I could so as to do everything as close to right as possible, even if it was my first time. To do something properly meant I went unseen. To make an error drew attention or criticism, reactions too loathsome to bear.

And I followed this strategy, silently succeeding and straining to remain invisible, through high school, through college, through grad school, and on. Occasionally I would get rude reminders that I wasn’t invisible – girlfriends choosing me as leader of the pack, or teachers bestowing awards – and I would feel mad that folks weren’t letting me go my safe and silent way. Didn’t they know they were exposing me? I’d get memos that I wasn’t actually safe either – acting invisible didn’t actually make me disappear, it only made me appear stuck-up, conceited, and arrogant- drawing the criticism I was so eager to protect myself from.

I still stayed the course.

Until now.  Maybe  this blog is to blame where I too am called forth, by myself, to be my most honest self.  Maybe my life path, as it meanders in the not-so-anonymous direction, draws my attention to the inefficacy of my safety strategy.  Little by little I am starting to hear a voice that says:

Lady, you aren’t shy and never have been. You’ve lived your whole life trying to be invisible and trying to be safe and where has it gotten you except further from yourself? Get over it. Let go of your ineffective walls and live your life.

I’m still fearful but I am no longer interested in letting that be a governing emotion in my life. And no one is ever safe. We can pad and cushion, and design our entire lives so as to avoid our fears, but all we are really doing is building an entire life, an entire persona, in tribute to our fears. I’m over it.

So here is where I post a picture of me in my worst outfit, under unflattering fluorescent lights, during my worst parenting moment, and expose my true self to the criticisms of the whole cyber-world… sorry, not ready for that yet.

Baby steps.

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Entry filed under: favorites, life lessons. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

mad or sad, does it really matter which one it is? foundations

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Romy  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Hell yeah Natalie. Way to go.

    Reply
  • 2. Christie  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Yes, but wouldn’t it be great if the worst we could be criticized for is the way we look?

    (hi my name is christie and i still prefer to be invisible)

    Reply
  • 3. Annie  |  January 12, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Thank you for sharing yourself on this blog!

    Reply
  • 4. Amy Cormode  |  January 12, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    wow, natalie, this post could be about me, with a few changes and additions and one glaring difference: i am behind you a bit still stuck in the fear-land, afraid of being noticed, hating myself for living so bland-ly in order to never feel rejection in any form. i guess the good news is, somehow, in finding my way to your blog and various other blogs and books and new people in my life, i am becoming convinced that it is possible for me to also cast aside these fears and be who i want to be…to accept myself as i am instead of always wishing i was this or that or thinking of how i “should” feel or think or act. you are part of the catalyst leading me down this road. so thanks. for putting yourself out there, come what may. hopefully, i will get there one day soon myself.

    Reply
  • 5. Amy  |  January 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I can really relate to these feelings of fear. For me, a lot of it has been about fear of just being seen and noticed by people, but at the same time, wanting to share some of myself with the world. I am confused and it is contradictory, but there you go. Your previous posts about the sadness we carry around ties in with all of this, for me. Anyway, thanks for your honesty, this post was so interesting for me since I knew you in high school and like hearing how you were actually feeling at the time.

    Reply

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