What Becoming Visible Has Taught Me
When I ran the New Year’s Revolution challenge at the start of the year, I set myself a challenge for 2016. And that was to become more visible. And share my many stories. For me that meant putting my whole self out there. Not hiding behind a screen or a mask, but showing up, as I am.
And that’s some tough scary shit. Because it’s really hard to meet yourself as you are and a) be okay with yourself and b) show that to the world.
For me, a big part of becoming visible meant sharing my whole story, not just the good bits; the bits that sound great on paper. But instead telling the whole thing. Messy bits, the ugly bits and the bits I’d change if I was re-writing it.
I’ve written a lot recently about sharing your story and it’s one of my core beliefs that the world needs to hear the messy, complicated, stories. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
While I was sick of hiding the complicated bits and things that didn’t make sense, I’ve been terrified to really show myself.
And I know I’m not alone in this. So many of us are living this same struggle. And sometimes our logic isn’t rational, but it feels very real and serious to us.
I mean, I nearly didn’t start my podcast because I’m fat. How does that even make sense? I mean, what the fuck is that about?!
And I’ve been shy in sharing my own mental health struggles because I feared that it would discredit my ability to talk about wellbeing, overcoming burnout and living a wholehearted life. (This, I also learned, is bollocks).
So many of us who are fighting for a brighter, better world have struggles and don’t have our shit together. And like I’ve written before, no one wants real life advice from the person who claims that they never have and never will have problems because life is magical. In some ways, having problems makes us most qualified to do it.
But to me, at that time, showing up fully, with both the shit and giggles was a serious concern.
In this self help world of green smoothies and yoga at 5am, I had so many mixed feelings as showing up the way I am.
As a fat woman who struggles with her mental health , the world makes so many assumptions and I didn’t want that.
But I’d started to define myself by my struggles and not by my unique combination of skills and strengths or the passion that I have to make the world a brighter place.
And because I’d already figured out in my own head how people would react, (which FYI, didn’t come true. At all) I’d scared myself shitless about it.
But someway along the way, I realised that becoming visible wasn’t this horrible, scary thing that would mean the end to life as I knew it.
It was a lot like closing your eyes, squeezing your hands tightly together and blurting out what you’ve wanted to say for a while, then coming up to air and realising the world hasn’t ended.
It gave me life. It felt absolutely invigorating to actually put myself out there. To log into skype and have deep intimate conversations with women all over the world for my podcast was terrifying to begin with, but has quickly become one of my all time favourite things to do.
Launching a New Year’s Revolution email course was exciting and so refreshing. Jumping on Skype with people I’ve only known via email has only made our relationships better.
Instead of doing it for the sake of a challenge, putting myself out there actually became fun. I learned that as much as I tell myself otherwise to keep myself safe, I thrive on connecting with other like minded people. I absolutely love talking to people and getting to know their stories. I love showing up as my bright coloured self, being really honest and trying to make the world a better place.
And the last four months have taken me to some pretty amazing places.
I actually started the podcast I put off for so long and it has been even more beautiful than I ever could have dreamt of. Then I put it into the world with some radical honesty and interviewed the most incredible women, and The Couragemakers Podcast ended up in New & Noteworthy (say whaaaat?).
And I’ve enjoyed (enjoyed!) being interviewed for some other amazing podcasts. I shared my struggles with being in the entrepreneur world and my upcoming round the world adventure with VK the VA for her wonderful podcast Behind The Boss Mask and got seriously honest with Sarah Starrs about multipotentiality, the truth and myths behind lifestyle design and uninstagrammable self care on her Punk Rock Personal Development Podcast.
And to put the icing on the cake, I’ve become really open about my own mental health struggles and also really spoken out about my life as a fat woman with Rose Gold (which comes out on Thursday!)
And I’ve learned something huge through this experience:
Hiding yourself from the world not only does a great disservice to yourself, but it gives a great disservice to the world.
The world needs your story. The world needs more raw and honest stories. And you’ll be surprised just how not alone you are when you start sharing.
Like courage breeds courage, honest breeds honesty and stories breed stories.
Showing up as yourself, owning your own story is a radical thing to do, especially in this world where we’re told that only so many stories count.
Because your story does count, the same way as you matter.
You have so much to give the world. And you’re going to enjoy your life so much more where you can really step into your life and claim your spot on the stage.