I recently came across a beautiful saying about Being Seen which you can see below. It inspired me to get on with writing the blog post that I have been procrastinating over for more than a year now, simply because it meant that I had to post photos of myself, taken as part of a corporate photoshoot for A4L fitness and coaching by Paul Coleman. The purpose of the blog post was to discuss the fear of being seen, what being seen actually means and how we can tackle it in our daily lives. Yet, I procrastinated.
I am not new to the world on stage – i.e performing in front of an audience, giving speeches at university. Somehow, in time, I had gone underground and remained underground for more than a decade, hoping never to be found (why? That’s a story for another time). So, when I finally decided to emerge from the nooks and crannies of Life’s alleyways, it was very tough. Somehow, I needed to emerge from behind the laptop and my writing mask, into the limelight of photography, performance arts and videography – the space that used to be my ‘home.’
Why do people feel the need to hide?
I decided to look into this epidemic fear of being seen. It is, basically, the need to hide. The ‘being seen’ thing that I’m going on about here, has nothing to do with ‘being in the limelight’ though, for many of us who are performers, that could also be the definition. The need to hide may be due to different reasons. For some, it is because they have been publicly humiliated and shamed at an early age, and they carry those wounds into adult life. For others, it could be that there were abused on many levels. Yet many others struggle with various illnesses and have special needs, which bring about a disconnection from the world. Others find the need to hide who they truly are, in order to fit in somewhere (peer pressure is an example).
Too often we hide for fear of what people will think of us. We feel the need to be perfect to all peoples at all times, and in doing so, we do great injustice to ourselves. We start to hide the ‘unsavoury’ parts of ourselves and we get on the road of disassociation and numbing our spirit. Life eventually stops working for us.
The Third Culture perspective of hiding
The story gets even more complicated if you are a third culture kid who is still struggling to fit in. We tuck bits and pieces of what the parental culture may not want to see. We become cultural chameleons, forever morphing into the culture that we are living in, in order to be accepted. We allow others to put ourselves in a box that we don’t want to be in. Sooner or later, we get used to hiding behind the masks and then disappear completely into hiding. Till, years down the line, we are tired of the status quo we have allowed ourselves to fall into and we start to feel the ‘awakening’ in ourselves. The need to be, do, have as we truly are. I suppose that’s what happened to me. That’s why I volunteered to be part of the photoshoot. It was a great way to address the issue of my body weight and shape (I have also been inspired by Weesha’s World on this count). Thankfully, Barry Morgan Photography did a splendid job in making me feel comfortable in front of the camera (AND I totally loved the experience). That’s one of the many instances when I started to come alive (read another blog post on a similar experience). The only way to come alive, meant that I needed to be ‘vulnerable’ to myself.
When being vulnerable is being truly beautiful
Brené Brown is an American researcher whose work focuses on issues around ‘being vulnerable’ and ‘wholehearted living.’ According to her, “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” How powerful is that! The very thing that the world sees as weak, can actually be used as a sharpening tool towards bringing out our true beauty.
What if being seen is a way to be vulnerable to who we truly are? Allowing ourselves to be just as we are, warts, beauty spots and all. Suddenly, the shift happens. We are doing something for ourselves and not for others. With that shift, the need to compare ourselves to others comes to an end. I would say it’s time to remove those masks that we wear all the time, and step forward to take our rightful place in the world that no one can take. Here are some great blog posts on how vulnerability can make our lives better and the power of vulnerability. The side benefit of being seen is this: When we start to be seen , then we start to automatically inspire others to step up to leading authentic lives. They start to look up to us as mentors, those who have traversed the road they are on, to overcoming aspects of hidden-ness and hidden-messes.
As for the corporate photoshoot, even though I was overweight then (I’ve since slimmed down, but that’s a story for another day), it was one of the thrilling times that I had the choice to step towards the edges of the frying pan (a phrase that I picked up from Mary Manin Morrissey) and explore what the fast expanding circumference of my universe would show me.
So if you are a third culture kid who has been ‘hiding,’ are now on the verge of the ‘awakening’ to your highest potential, and are exploring what that means, perhaps you can do what I did. Ask yourself questions!
1) Where are you refusing yourself to be seen?
2) Which aspect of yourself have you forced to go into hiding?
Have a dialogue with that shut down faculty. From the very beginning when you shunned it away, it has been begging for your attention. It will respond to your questions when you cajole it gently. Allow YOUR brilliant story to unfold, a story that on other. Keep going, whether that takes weeks or months. Facets of who we are that have been numbed over the years need to be thawed gently (I use the integrative arts as my favourite thawing tool, whether that be dance movements, attending handcraft workshops, poetry therapy, blog story therapy, creating intuitive art, creating videos, designing cufflinks or giving integrated art workshops).
There’s no hurry. The only thing that matters is this. The world is waiting for you to shine the Masterpiece that you are.
One more thing. Drink lots of water! I believe that the toxins that have been jogged from their slumber need to be excreted from our system.
PS: I would like to thank Alia El Kurdi, my fellow traveller on the road to wholesome, authentic living – for providing me with Brene Brown’s name.
And here questions of type such if honestly strike me not much as I wrote everything higher. It is visible you simply you don’t want to read all this. As my parrot does.