It’s very interesting, you can ask one person and they’ll say I’m the most authentic person they’ve met, and you can ask another person, and they can say I’m the fakest person they’ve met. And in all honesty, they’re both completely right.
What inspired today’s episode about showing up is this quote by Henry David Thoreau: “We are constantly invited to be who we are.” Invited being the key word here.
My challenge is that I don have consistency in showing up. I know what it takes to show up, but I don't think do it all the time. And what’s worse, is I beat myself up when I know that I’ve shown up as a false self, and someone has acknowledged and accepted that, and I feel like I have to continue as that false self forever after. And that is so exhausting.
Last week, I attended a virtual meditation retreat where I really contemplated what it takes to show up as my authentic self and what have I been hiding. This virtual retreat was very different from the only other meditation I attended last year, which was a silent meditation retreat where you practised looking only into yourself without any external factors. In this virtual retreat, it was all about sharing yourself and your experiences. I found I had no words to share when it came to talking about myself.
I guess I felt like it didn’t matter. It was just another day. I was just struggling a little with meditation. There weren’t any major things that happened. And it just clicked - wow, I only share information with people when a significant event has happened and I have reacted to it a certain way or I need to react a certain way and am asking for advice. Otherwise, do I really just talk about how I feel today? Hardly ever. I don't even know where to start.
When I did start, I realized all I did was complain. I learned that I only knew how to express anger and frustration. Either that, or I bring up imaginary concepts or expectations that I had of myself that I was seeking affirmation for. And when I didn’t receive it, I felt like I was failing at such a basic level, like I couldn’t even introduce myself or talk about myself genuinely. Who even am I?
With a personal discipline to meditate twice a week, the anger and frustration just started to dial down naturally toward the end of the week. Mainly because every morning we met in smaller groups of 5 to just share something, forcing me to practice showing up and speaking up. I found myself getting more comfortable in this practice of saying something. Anything, and hearing myself speak. And not needing everything that comes out of my mouth to be something amazing. As someone who is known for always dropping truth bombs, I realized my greatest fear was the idea of not having any truths to drop today. Then what am I good for?
At our closing ceremony we had to talk about what the difference was a week before when I first started the retreat to now. And yes, I feel more calm, yes, I feel more centred, all the things. But my greatest realization is how much I have closed myself off from sharing. People can only know what I show, and I cant be understood, validated, appreciated, accepted, all of these things, if I don't express my true self.
We were asked what we have been called to do after and I said to focus on showing up for myself and integrating my learnings in real life. It’s actually very easy to stay calm and settled when you are in your own company. You are safe with your demons. You know how to tolerate them. But when they show up in front of others, how do you deal?
It’s really easy to show up and be authentic in front of a bunch of supportive strange talking heads on a zoom call at a meditation retreat when there are so many people out there struggling way more than you for many reasons. As it is in any support group format, you realize your problems aren’t as bad and that someone out there would immediately trade theirs for yours. But what about in real life, with someone who has no desire to make peace with you, in fact, would like to protest against you, just for the sake of you being different from them?
I had quite the shakeup with a neighbour who confronted me pretty aggressively about “House Rules“ and was already complaining about. me to our landlord without even giving me a chance to talk. She even went so far to gang up on me and get the acceptance of another neighbour. It was such an aggressive attack, and honestly, it felt really familiar. I am used to this behaviour because I used to behave like this.
I am really proud of the way I responded though. All the meditating did some help in keeping me calm and I was actually able to apply the techniques in real life. I was shaking in my sandals and tears were crawling out of my eyes, but I stood up for myself and spoke out. I didn't argue against her, I just acknowledged how she felt and validated her feelings. Surprisingly, that was enough to make her completely change her demeanour and I was able to get out of that confrontation on a positive note. I can’t believe I even tried so hard to be likeable, or in general, just stay out of their way. I pay the same amount of rent and deserve the same respect I have been giving them.
At the end of the day, who is one person in your life? Why give them so much power to dictate how you are going to feel in your own skin? As painful and unusual and awkward as it might feel to show up, do it for you. There is no one saving me out here. I just have to show up or I go to bed as someone I know I’m not. And that I can’t live with anymore.
Find out more about the argument with the neighbour in my podcast episode! Make sure to subscribe for new episodes every Wednesday on podcasts and YouTube.