On Being Seen and Breaking Silences

I’ve been feeling…a little lost.

That’s the understatement of the century. I’ve been feeling a lot lost. I’ve been feeling broken and empty and exploding and crushed and incompetent and only very occasionally capable and powerful and worthy. I’ve been feeling all those things like I’m riding a rollercoaster in the dark—I can’t tell when the next dip or crest is coming.

And it’s brought me face-to-face with some fundamental truths.

I believe that stories are powerful. That we’re not alone in the way our brains tell us we are. I believe that sharing a struggle opens space for others to say, “Me too,” and sharing a triumph shows others that success is possible.

I believe that pretending we’re OK is corrosive. It erodes our foundations until there’s nothing left, and we can’t pretend anymore.

I believe that shame keeps us silent, and that writing is a revolutionary act.

I believe that a truth authentically shared trumps templates and blueprints and whatever else “they” say we “should” write.

I believe these things….but I haven’t been fully acting like I do.

I help other people write. I encourage them to share their stories, to bravely step forward, and to allow themselves to be seen. But I haven’t been doing the same.

I’ve been sitting with this knowledge for a while now. I’ve been marinating in the cognitive dissonance. I’ve been soaking in this bath for so long that my skin is wrinkled, the water is cold, and my silence is DEAFENING.

How can I believe these things and not participate? How can I help dozens of people (literally almost half a hundred people now) share their stories, and still tell myself that I don’t have anything worthwhile to say? How can I tell them to be brave from a place of comparative cowardice?

It’s like I’m telling my clients, “Stories are powerful and important, and your story is worthy. You’re worthy just as you are.” And then I’m looking in a mirror and saying, “Except for you, Meg. Obviously, you’re the exception. Just be quiet.”  

But you know what? I’m not an exception. No one is an exception. That’s the whole point.

“Who am I to think that I have anything worthwhile to share”?

A person. That’s it. You’re a person.

We’re all human beings. We all inhabit bodies that move through space and time, collecting experiences, noticing patterns, and making discoveries. We create stories every day.

These don’t have to be Epic Adventures like climbing Mount Everest (although if that’s your thing, I love that for you and please share that story for people like me who Would Never Ever Ever). And, if you’re an entrepreneur, they don’t have to be Perfectly Polished Pieces of “Strategic Content.” Just be human.

Just be human.

Share your tiniest, most mundane-seeming stories. Tell me about how you thought you hated broccoli, but then you tried this oven-roasted, parmesan-garlic-crusted broccoli and it changed your life (and then PLEASE share the recipe!).

Tell me how you’ve been learning to let yourself rest, about your new vegetable garden, your magical new hairdresser, or about taking your first road trip ever. Unabashedly enthuse about your latest hyperfixation (and then get ready for my TED talk on Kpop and/or classic detective novels of the 1920s).

Talk about doing something that scares you, even if you think it’s kind of silly. I’ll do the same. We can (gently) laugh at ourselves together and realize that everyone has these things in common. Everyone. Even bestselling authors and Fortune 500 CEOs.

I’m not trying to “should” you. You don’t HAVE to share if you don’t want to. I’m just saying, don’t NOT share just because your inner critic is pre-judging you. From someone who’s been conducting an in-depth study of personal censorship….it’s not fun.

Our stories are worth sharing because we’re human. Our experiences, perspectives, and insights can heal the world. We never know who our stories will touch.

That goes for you. And it goes for me too. Let’s share our stories.


PS: I once read Michael Caine’s autobiography in which he told a story about pooping his pants on the way to an event, and I found it Just. So. Endearing. It’s one of the (MANY) reasons why I adore him. So like…anything goes. Really.

PPS: I don’t intend to share poop stories, although I probably would if the occasion called for it!