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The Courage to be You: Cultivating Fearlessness for Your Life

“It takes courage to show up and become who you really are.”-e.e. cummings

Can you imagine a world where we all began conversations from silence rather than fear, from presence rather than breathless agendas, from a place of love, openness, curiosity, genuine tenderness, discernment, and compassion? I imagine that the highest and best version of You, the person you aspire to be would feel safe, honored, respected, celebrated. Most people want to be loved, seen, heard, and valued. Some yearn to be.

Yet, in your daily life it can seem, at times, that others keep handing you a script, demanding that you read the lines that someone else wrote. Family members, bosses, colleagues, even friends can direct you to move things to that conveyor belt, eat wheatgrass, drink red wine, gather prospects, sign contracts, live cruelty free, oh, and as an afterthought “be yourself.” The roar of cultural agendas, what’s trending on social media, and other people’s expectations of you could ride rough shod over your joy in living on this Big Blue Planet.

A couple decades ago, my brother and sister-in-law delivered a fried chicken dinner days after our second child was born. I felt so grateful for this hot meal. Breastfeeding my infant son created a hunger like no other. I began eating every single bite of food on my loaded plate. The mashed potatoes, gravy, corn on the cob, and chicken complete with the delicious crunchy, greasy skin. I even drooled a bit.

A former neighbor stopped by with a vegan baby cake. She sat down as we were eating and began fiercely delivering a lecture about the evils of ingesting chicken, the cruel ways chickens are slaughtered, and on and on. What she didn’t realize was that as a breastfeeding mom, the bonding hormone, oxytocin, flowed freely through my body, so much so that I barely heard her words or felt her judgment. It was actually quite comical. I almost laughed out loud.

Thank goodness I had some sense to take her as seriously as I could. It’s not that I didn’t respect her cause or appreciate the truth of what she was saying, but if this was her way of bringing me along as a convert, she failed utterly. I made a promise to myself to not ever evangelize about the evils of anything-especially not to a breastfeeding mom of a newborn baby.

I also remember an experience a few years ago. Soon after I created my company as a fulltime adventure, I received a call from a woman insisting I alter my make-up for the optimal professional look. She had met me in person earlier that day at a networking meeting. While I intuitively knew I needed to purchase new facial products (what woman doesn’t?), I immediately felt her criticism.  Her tsk tsk about my current look crackled through the phone line. My ears and cheeks burned with shame. The doorbell rang. I finally spoke up. “My doorbell just rang. There are people here to fix pipes in my house. I had a sewage back up this past weekend.”

I thanked her for reaching out, laughed nervously when I told her the contractors had top priority in my life and we ended the call. I made an internal note to get a makeover at some later date and not ever hire her for assistance.

In both these situations, the women failed to note the context in which they were calling or visiting. So wrapped up inside their own agendas, they failed to connect from the heart with care, tenderness, silence, or a meaningful, thoughtful question about me, my life, or my family.

I forgive them for I’ve done the same. Someone’s probably blogging about their experiences of me as one self-absorbed fear driven person. Another woman could be writing right now about my failure to connect that happened a couple of weeks ago. In a moment of anxiety, I approached her. We had never met, but I had overheard her saying something about clearing clutter. I swooped in with a flyer about an upcoming workshop I was facilitating. Fear. Agenda driven. My hands shook. She stared at me, politely took the flyer, asked who I was, then turned and walked away. I ran after her and profusely apologized for my brashness. Gosh knows I can still bumble. It was a painful reminder that coming from fear and driven agendas is simply a bankrupt way to connect with others let alone be of service or support people.

You may have had similar experiences of being judged for making different choices and/or see yourself as a fear driven carrier of someone else’s script. Transcending these survival modalities takes focus, resilience, and a commitment to “wake up, grow up, and show up.” as a new colleague of mine, Adrienne Kimball, stated it. Know that you have everything you need to become who you are from the inside out. You can continue to rediscover, to expand the center of your being, to find that courage inside your heart, to hold compassion for yourself and others, to feel empowered and free. It’s likely to feel messy and uncomfortable.

Returning and then landing solidly and consistently in who you are, your highest and best self, takes courage, clarity, and self-discovery. To remain inside your experience of sovereignty, your truth, your life lived so far, your own shoes takes strength, honesty, vulnerability, and resilience. You are so much more than a role, a title, your mistakes, your resume, or all the times you attempted to morph according to someone else’s expectations of who you should be.  It’s a work in process. Becoming You. It could be the most important project you’ve ever been blessed to receive, one of the most important gifts of your being alive.

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