BY GRACE J. KIM
I barely escaped high school with a silhouette of an identity and voice, and entered college with trepidation, anxiety, and worry of how I was perceived and received.
I could hardly squeak out an introduction in class or audibly say “Present” when called on, whereas in my younger days, I ran loud and free in my apartment complex with the boys, filling the air with yells and clatter of bikes and rollerblades.
Somewhere along the way, my wild child was told to take a backseat by societal and familial expectations, media, and culture.
She quietly obeyed the well-intended voices that shushed her to tuck herself away, informed her that beauty was skin deep, and taught her that subservience to rules and authority was more valuable than her creativity. She sat with hands in her lap, wanting desperately to be accepted, to belong, to be loved.
It was hard, excruciatingly painful. I felt I could barely breathe. I knew something wasn’t right but I also just wanted to belong – somewhere, anywhere. Years later, I can see more clearly that the greatest tragedy wasn’t the pain itself.
The greatest tragedy, for me, was not showing up exactly as I am. All of it.
All of the shit. All of the goodness. All the sweet, plus all the bitter.
The greatest tragedy is shielding ourselves from the world. It’s hiding out. It’s holding back. It’s shying away. It’s shutting down, suppressing, numbing, and denying.
The greatest tragedy lies in the fact that we are actually shielding the world from us, from seeing what we’re made of, from experiencing the great humanity and spirit within every single soul.
When we don’t show up, we choose not to participate in life the way we are created to.
From the moment we entered the world, we entered with the leading role of our own movie, the main character, and protagonist of the greatest story told in our lives.
We were created to feel, to touch, be touched, to love, to know pain, to know glory, to persevere, to fail, to succeed, to feel despair, to know triumph.
We were created to withstand and conquer everything our lives. Yet, sometimes we find ourselves hiding out. We cover our eyes, we try to ignore the truth – not the truth of circumstances, but the truth of who we are in those circumstances.
We are so afraid to show up and be who we are because we don’t want to be seen. Yet we long to be seen at the same time. It’s the greatest tragedy, because we do it thinking we are serving ourselves.
We are actually committing a disservice – no, we are actually committing a sin against ourselves and humanity when we hold back our hearts and souls from the truth of who we really are.
When we don’t show up, acknowledge who we are, and open ourselves up, we rob ourselves of the freedom and all-consuming energy of life.
It is a gift to be who we are. Joseph Campbell says, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
I get it. It’s not easy. I get it. It hurts. I get it. It’s scary as fuck.
I get it. I get it. I get it.
Showing up, truly showing up, doesn’t mean being the hero. It doesn’t mean looking good. It doesn’t mean having shit together. That would be too easy.
Truly showing up is feeling all the feelings, all the pain, all the anguish, loneliness, sense of worthlessness, purposelessness and… still taking your seat at the table. Bring it. Bring it all.
Truly showing up takes so much more courage than looking good. It’s the ultimate indicator of life, of purpose, of courage, of the human spirit that is in each and every one of us.
When we come as we are, we invite humanity, and we invite our community to engage in our vulnerability and the pure form of what we’re made of. You would be so fucking surprised how many human beings want so badly to be free, to be vulnerable. Maybe you wouldn’t, because you are one of them.
You are dying to show up. You are dying to be received as you are. You are dying to be seen, not out of arrogance, conceit, or narcissism. You are dying to be human. You are dying to be known.
For me, I was dying to be the wild child, the one that laughed at everything and danced to the rhythm only I could hear. I was dying to be known as me.
We all are, aren’t we? Every day we don’t show up, we die. We die by negating ourselves, our feelings, our hopes, dreams, desires, strength, purpose, passions, truth, and voice.
We die daily for what? For what are we stifling our beauty, power, and magnificence?
There better be a damn good reason. Because every time we die, we die for whitewashed walls, a perfect social media feed, and external validation of a false image. We die for false beliefs, false love, false hope, false purpose.
And yet, every day, we die to live. We want it so bad.
The good news – the answer is here; it’s always been here.
Show up. As you are.
Just as you are. Every imperfection, blemish, and flaw.
I will. I promise I’ll show up. I promise I’ll show up when I feel like shit, and also when I feel like I’m the shit. I promise I’ll keep it real with you. I promise I won’t bullshit what I’m going through, what I’m feeling. I promise what you see is what you get. I promise me.
I promise, not just for me. I promise for the world. For the world to experience and taste me, both a masterpiece and work in progress at the same damn time. Me, a crazy loud human being with moments of seriousness. Me, a clumsy girl at times, a writer, a thinker, a runner, a “meditater,” a laugher, a beach bum, a dancer.
The world gets to experience me because I choose to show up each and every day exactly as I am. Humanity gets to know me because I choose vulnerability. I choose freedom for myself. I choose humility. I choose community. I choose hope, courage, honor, relationship, connection, and beauty.
Will you give us the gift of yourself? Reverse the tragedy. You are the leading role. Take the lead. Show us your greatness. Show us what you’re made of. Show us what we’ve been missing from you so far. Show us you – all of it. Don’t judge yourself.
Come as you are.
The world needs it – especially in times like this. The world awaits. Bring it.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith.
Sip a little more:
Grieve the Old You — Grow the New You
Coming on the New Moon in November
. . .