Reality TV appears to be more about drama than actual real life and let me tell you, if that was what real life is supposed to be then count me out! But I get it, people want an escape, a way to get away from the reality of their own lives. And, I admit it, the very real notion of going back to a primitive exposure to the elements brings with it the appeal of freedom of simply living comfortably in our own skin. It wasn’t until that forbidden sweet bite that changed our self perception in such a biblical way that we would want to cover up the beauty that is the human body.
As an artist I find beauty everywhere, even in the pains of life, albeit easier to see the beauty in someone else's struggle and helping them to do the same. When it comes to my own pains or discomforts it has proven more difficult to see the beauty in the pain. I am working with a young woman who is going through the same pain of putting herself out there. When I talk to her about her plans to create a blog she speaks with confidence and self affirmation sharing that she wants her blog to be a place for her to share about she and her family without having to worry about what other people think. This is a key indicator of that fear of putting yourself out there, and the courage and the little things we must say to ourselves to move beyond it.
Over the past 5 years I have watched my wife maneuver through this process with her photography business. She is a natural and has a talented eye, but even with those gifts she had plenty of struggles. Familiarizing herself with her camera, learning new editing software, frustration with the tech issues and anything else she had to figure out to develop her trade and craft her skills. These, though significant struggles, pale in comparison when it came to her own fears and insecurities of putting herself out there. She shared with me the other night how it wasn’t just about having people critique her work, but the challenge of presenting another human being to themselves in a fashion that they too feel confident and connected to themselves. So, not only did she have to contend with her own skills being put out there for everyone to see, but she had to connect with the individual who hired her and present them in a light that showcased the best vision they have for themselves. This isn’t easy particularly if the subject has difficulty owning their own beauty. That is where my wife excels, she brings together the beauty of the individual and the connection of the family to share the bond between loved ones. That said, even after 5 years of developing her trade, she still has to work through the fear of putting herself out there.
Now I am no stranger to this fear. It was particularly prevalent when I first started working as an Addictions Counselor. Having never been addicted and not having any experience with addiction in my family the ever prevailing question of “how is this guy going to help me” whether spoken or not was always present and thick enough to choke the very air from my lungs. In those days a simple prayer to help me get out of myself and beyond my fears guided me to bring the best of my abilities to a difficult lecture, a struggling group, or session that had more pain than I felt prepared to witness. “God, help me to get out of myself and be there for the people you have put before me.”
Though the stakes aren’t nearly as high in my current developing position, it is nonetheless about peoples lives and the changes they desire. When I lectured, facilitated a group, or had individual sessions there was never the element of judgement, well, at least not to the level that could be revisited with a microscope. When you write a blog, produce photos, or create furniture or art, there is a permanence that can be analyzed and critiqued at a level beyond a single moment. And yes, I am my worst critic. Without closing my eyes I can tell you where every flaw of any piece of furniture I ever made is and get a sting every time I think of it.
I believe this is blog number 8 which has been surprisingly easy as I am mostly using my website as a repository for the future. Fear has kept me from using the marketing tools of the site to put myself out there. It's kept me from creating a FaceBook and Twitter Account to link to my site. Fear has passively excused and redirected my efforts to post an intro and first topic video on my YouTube channel. That fear factor however is the beauty. Fear at the start is the barrier or the obstacle. As we progress, with a little courage with each action, fear becomes the challenge. Gifts, abilities, and talents are great starting points, but everything beautiful comes from work, struggle, and often pain. Many people avoid these things. They don’t allow themselves to feel their fears or acknowledge them. The most courageous people I know feel their fears. They allow themselves the whole experience, not denying a single element of the sensation. This moves them to share them with others. Which in turn allows them clarity to see it for what it is. They move to a position of power as intellect steps in to define the answers they had been blinded by with the emotional paralysis. This is when the fear goes from an indefinable entity to a manageable set of tasks or actions to propel them beyond what they once thought was impossible.
Each one of us has fears, welcome to being human. How you experience, acknowledge, and face those fears is where the true beauty of struggle lies. Each day commit to facing and challenging your fears, for it is in the act of facing them where we find our strength and the beauty of the struggle.