Life changing experiences only change our lives if we let them. Many think life changing experiences have to be extravagant, terrifying, awe-inspiring, mountain top sorts of experiences. They can be. I mean, I’ve had my share of these big ticket moments alter my world view. But the most transformative events are small moments and relational experiences. Whether through brief encounters, lifelong relationships, or something in-between, it is through relationships we receive the type of revelation that can be used to change ourselves.
So long as we’re brave enough to face it.
Recently I met a stranger. A delightfully funny, and honest stranger who takes life as it comes. A little about me… I am not easily seen and understood. For a multitude of reasons. All worthy of their own individual post. But that will come. For now, allow me to sum up. For starters, I’m different than most people. However, people see only what I reveal, rather than who I am at the core. I don’t often feel comfortable standing out, so I reveal what seems comfortable for whomever I encounter, until I know the person better and they feel safe. Like most of us, I have been deeply hurt. The consequence for me is that I don’t always trust the world or people in it. I don’t often feel safe, and so I have a guard up that is difficult to crack. Lastly, there are times when I’m fearful of being judged or of others thinking negatively of me. But this stranger… he felt comfortable right away. There’s a safety about him that allowed me to just be. Without worry that judgement may come. I felt accepted. Full stop. No exceptions.
He also sees things. I don’t mean dead people. I mean the secret lives of people. The things they may not notice about themselves. How they are holding back. How they are blocked. And he’s not afraid to point it out. A quality so few of us embrace, but perhaps we should.
So… what revelation did I receive?
“Managing others is seriously limiting your experiences.”
Well fuck. This shattered me at first to be honest. Like looking into a mirror of broken glass. I saw what I thought I had already overcome. Had already settled. I have indeed come a long way over the years. But there are shreds I’ve continued to hold on to. And demons that have returned after life blows in recent years. These words echoed in my mind for a full day. Making a mockery of the truth of it all. Taunting me. Making me so incredibly angry with myself. Some might be angry at him for saying such a thing. Some might even argue it’s a patronizing thing to say. But it’s not really. It’s not a directive, a mandate, someone seeing themselves as having it together and pointing out my faults.
It’s just the hard truth.
A truth I didn’t accept was still there because I thought I had moved past this. I used to try to manage everything, every moment. I’ve let quite a lot go, but there are few areas and people that I’m still afraid of. In my misguided effort to protect myself from disapproval or judgement, I’m cutting myself off from a wealth of opportunity and experience. Because others will judge anyway. And I wasn’t always like this either. I miss the me I was before I let life shake me down. I used to dive into all experiences. Consequences and opinions be damned. I have at times been described as brave and fearless and free spirited. Where did it go?
It’s time to bring it back.
And I’m starting here. I’ve often written a blog post here and there for others, still do actually. But in the back of my mind I’ve always felt that I’m meant to write in my own forum, in a stripped-down, honest way. About my hang-ups, my struggles, my journey to stretch outside my comfort zone and evolve. But I’ve been too terrified to do it. Worried about what people might think of me and trying to manage others’ perception of me. I intend today to start doing that less and less. Until none of it’s left.
When someone shows you a difficult truth, it’s an opportunity. I see this particular gift of honesty as an altruistic gesture. A favor that will improve my quality of life. And I hope to repay that favor forward. What his actual intent was? No idea. But I’m not going to be suspicious of it.
Maybe all I need to feel the world is safe to let myself be seen, is to decide it is.
What will this become? Who knows. Could be a small vacant corner where I echo my truths for myself. Could be a place where those close to me come to see what’s happening in my journey. I hope it becomes something greater, more far-reaching, inspiring others to look in the mirror, confront what they want to change, dig deep, find a seed of courage and help it grow.
This truth doesn’t seal my fate, it gives me renewed vision and drive. My story is still being written, and this chapter is better than the last. There are a million things I wish I would have handled differently in my life, but today I read this reminder…
“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were a year, month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow. No apologies.”
So for me… “It’s a new dawn, a new day, and a new life…. and I’m feeling good!”