“Life is not a private affair. A story and its lessons are only made useful if shared.” – Dan Millman
I’ve recently read a new book that was given to me as an early birthday present from someone for whom I care deeply. Naturally I wanted to get started straight away. And naturally, as the book spoke to my soul, I became distracted by this quote in the preface, even though I had already read on from there. It just kept rolling around in my head. Some simple words with extraordinary ramifications. They struck me so much because of the way people present themselves these days… this isn’t a judgement, but a statement of fact. Pretty much anyone who has a social media presence does this… presents a part of themselves that they’re not afraid for others to see. I’ve been guilty of it, for sure. And it’s in an effort to show who I really am (not some heavily curated representation) that I am writing this blog. As I have gone on it has become easier to click publish and share different aspects of my thinking and my life. Of course there are things that are not for public consumption, and this will always remain so. But I want my story to be useful. So I’m sharing it.
There are so many things that I have learnt about myself and about others, just because I’ve been sharing my thoughts with the world. I’ve learnt about others anxieties and inhibitions. I’ve learnt about their passions and prejudices. I’ve learnt about my own challenges and often solved my own problems, simply by thinking through what I wanted to write about. It has also helped me underline exactly why I have made some of the bigger life decisions of recent times. How has this happened? I think there are a few parts to it.
Going back to my very first post, I wrote about vulnerability, and the impact that being vulnerable can have, particularly on relationships. Letting those close to you see you for who you really are is an extremely emancipating experience. It deepens connection and encourages others to offer more of themselves too. But for me it has done far more than this. It has allowed me to grow in confidence too. I am far more aware of so many things about myself, just because of the vulnerability I have been able to show through my writing – but more than this, I accept these things, and can deal with the things I want to change. Having this self acceptance and being open with others about who I am means that I can confidently move forward in all areas of my life. It has renewed my trust in myself and given me the power to live life in the present moment.
Which conveniently brings me to my next point! Really what I am sharing with the world in my blog is a kind of journal. I’ve also mentioned before how valuable I find the process of journaling, and I still do this on a regular basis to ensure I’m keeping my thoughts in check. It’s very easy to go through a day, or even days at a time, on autopilot, doing our routine tasks off muscle memory, while our mind is busy elsewhere. While I don’t share a few private details of my life here – I’d imagine there’d be a few upset people if I did – writing this gives me an opportunity to dump out my thoughts on a particular subject, much like writing my journal does. Expelling the thoughts onto paper or a screen, as is the case here, I find that not only is my thinking more organised, but also that I don’t have to spend any further mental energy ruminating on the topic. And rumination is one of the arch enemies of mindfulness. Given that mindfulness is one of my key goals in life, having places where I can write is incredibly important to me. Fewer things to think about means that a good chunk of the battle is already won!
Finally, I wanted to remind you that every post you’ve read, every comma, every word, every typo… they’re all me. Slightly nervous, yet accepting. Imperfect, but real. Hopelessly hopeful and determined. I have always, and will continue to be, determined to be faithfully authentic in what I share. Because I think the world could do with more of it. At the end of the day, if people don’t like what they see, then nobody is forcing them to read it. While I am sure there are some people out there who read my words with a critical eye, the positive feedback from what I’ve written is far more valuable to me. The critics are coming from a place of perfection, a place where I definitely don’t want to live. Aside from the fact that no human can ever be perfect, if someone was to reach that place, then what would they have left to learn? As far as I’m concerned, being human is all about learning and getting better, so if that’s taken away, what do you have left. I’m quite happy here in my imperfect authenticity. It’s a huge garden really, with so much room to grow.
For once it seems like I don’t really have any advice to share directly. How completely self indulgent of me. But maybe there is something to take away…