I went to lunch with a friend yesterday, the kind of friend who becomes family in the most casual of ways. We chatted and laughed, maybe cried a little, laughed some more. It was nice. Soul-filling.
At some point in the conversation, talk turned to our upcoming Christmas party and “Minute To Win It” games. My stomach tensed. I imagined myself with a tissue box strapped to my waist jiggling and jostling around until I successfully bounced all the cotton balls out.
“I don’t think I would do that,” I said. “I’m kind of fond of not embarrassing myself in front of people.”
Once upon a time, I wasn’t scared to embarrass myself in front of people. I sang. I danced. I threw caution to the wind. And somewhere along the way something happened.
I didn’t sing (except in the car or when nobody’s home). I didn’t dance (unless…well…never). I am really freaking cautious about not putting myself out there in ways that might embarrass me.
And then I had an epiphany while driving home from lunch.
For a long, long time, I’ve thought wistfully about that girl I used to be. I’ve wondered where she went, why I’m not as out there as I once was. Why I don’t take chances on things that might bring me personal discomfort.
Except, hi. Hello.
What is blogging and being an active oversharer on social media if not, oh, I dunno, putting myself WAY out there?
That’s what I realized while I was driving. It’s not that I’m no longer that girl. It’s that the nature of what I’m laying on the line is different. It’s evolved.
Every time I share something online, I’m sharing a part of myself. A very real, often raw part of me that needs out. Every time I speak up about something I believe in (which is a thing I’ve always done and which has never left me) I’m giving voice to something someone else may be too shy to say.
So maybe I’m not okay with doing things that are physically embarrassing. Emotionally, I’m all in. I’m all out there.
I’m messy and I’m complicated. I’m not ashamed to talk about what I feel passionately to be important. I’m not afraid to stand up to bullies or be an ear when someone needs me to listen, even if what they need to tell me is really, really hard.
It was a very freeing experience to realize that I’m still me. I may not physically be in front of crowds anymore, but I’m still the girl I’ve always been.
I’m just different, and that’s okay.
Maybe one day I’ll sing again.