If you’ve ever put something new out into the world – something creative or entrepreneurial, for instance – you can probably identify with the words of one of my fabulously talented friends:
“I’m afraid of being seen. I’m also afraid of not being seen.”
How can those two feelings coexist? For many, there’s a part of us that wants to perform. We want to be noticed, acknowledged and applauded. Do we want to win an Oscar? Yes, please. It would mean you like me… right now… you like me.
There’s also a part of us that simply wants to blend in and lay low. That way, we’re not exposed or subject to judgment. Our dreams and visions can be held closely within us, without the risk that reality might not match the fantasy.
[pullquote]The authentic self is the soul made visible.
~Sarah Ban Breathnach[/pullquote]
This week marks the return of the ultimate in being seen, “America’s Got Talent.” Fabulous or flop, I admire every single person who gets up there and dares to be seen. We may laugh or feel embarrassed for those who don’t measure up to the standards we’ve set for those who entertain us. But within each performer is a vulnerable core that is afraid of being seen and not being seen. They know that they may be buzzed and booed off the stage. The risk is worth it. For those moments, they feel fully alive and in their truth. They give it all they’ve got. They say, “this is who I am and what I do, like it or not!” (case in point: Hannibal Means!)
It’s inspiring to me. Maybe it’s my introverted nature, maybe it’s something else, but I’ve always assumed that people who meet me once won’t remember who I am the next time they see me. It’s a rather sad assumption. Perhaps it’s part of why I have a bigger fear of NOT being seen than of being seen. Oh, being seen scares me, too… it means that someone might judge me and decide to buzz me off the stage.
Yet in the end, that fear has little power over me, certainly not enough to stop me from taking off my mask and baring my soul. We’re all put on this earth to be seen, and to shine as magnificent beings. We’re not always going to understand each other, or even like each other. That’s OK. It’s up to each of us how much power or energy we give those who don’t resonate with us.
When we see and are seen though love, that’s all that really matters.
Judy Dunn says
This message was so meant for me today. Or so it seems.
I am always the one who wants to see, but not be seen. But I am finding that not being seen is something that sometimes deprives others of what they may want.
Even as a child, in school, when the teacher called me out for something good I did, maybe a paper I wrote, I was mortified. I didn’t want the special attention. Didn’t want every kid in the class looking at me.
I remembered that when I became a teacher. : -)
Such a thought-provoking post, Beth. Thank you for that.
Such good food for thought.
One of my clients recently had a breakthrough around what it is to accept recognition. She’s an artist and used to avoid her openings, preferring to gauge how well she was being perceived as an artist by how well her paintings were selling. She called herself on this, and went to an opening where she felt a flood of self-love after receiving all the appreciation from the gallery guests. This flood unleashed a whole new layer of self-discovery for her.
Thank you for pointing, once again.
Beth Buelow, ACC says
Judy, thanks for sharing your story. What you say is so true… when we effectively hide out and hoard our gifts, we’re denying others of information, inspiration and connection. I love that as a teacher, you remembered that feeling of being in the spotlight; my hunch is that you were a fabulous teacher!
Amy, what a lovely gift your client received! The ability to take in – and BELIEVE – recognition is so key to our personal growth. I think of a Louise Hay quote I posted on my FB page this morning: “You have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Once we approve of ourselves, we can more graciously and easily receive the approval others give us (and shake off the nay-sayers). Brava to you and your client!!