There are moments we all encounter that leave us humbled, changed, and reminiscent of the moments that molded us into the very person you see before you.
Last night, I went back to being 11 years old. In this first few minutes of our conversation, this spunky, confident young girl had me practically convinced she was much wiser than her age would expect.
As a young girl and I got to know each other through this empowerment program we are both involved in, I listened to her troubles and the things she so desperately she wants to be different. Things none of us can change. Her tears were felt through the phone and I did my best to hold my walls up, I just couldn’t. My tears fell for her, too.
This girl and I have never met, but in some ways, I knew her. In fact, I had been her.
Although the years had long passed, I was surprised at how quickly I everything seemed to rush back. Memories long stored away never seemed to be shared in the stories of yesterday.
I thought I was strong…
Surrounded by walls, pretending every second of every day, sharing a smile that had a secret it couldn’t tell.
It was like that for years.
I wanted to stop hiding. Not because I wanted to be seen, but because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than my own prison.
I wanted to start feeling something again. Locked away behind that tough exterior was a tender heart, with emotions no one had ever seen.
Then something amazing happened a few years ago.
Something that still hits me in my very core even now.
I was wrong about being strong. About the facade I thought I had spent years perfecting.
I thought I was strong before.
Never did I think that my true strength would come from my willingness to show people the same things I had covered up.
To lay it all out there…for everyone to see.
To that took a hell of a lot of courage. The courage I never knew I had.
I always believed that it was better to “play it safe.” To protect myself, without risking anything. Don’t get me wrong, I did what I needed to do, but I was kidding myself more than anyone even realized. Not because I wanted to, but because I was afraid to do anything different.
Behind those protective curtains, I found my truth. I found the person I had always wanted to be. I found a life I had been missing, but never it existed.
Afraid to be who we really are…
Too often, we shield ourselves from what will truly set us free. We close our eyes as we take that baby step towards freedom and silently pray for the best. Our wanting to believe has never been more heightened and our hope is full of anticipation we cannot yet describe.
In my eyes, being vulnerable meant being weak, so I decided to use the word “authentic” instead of vulnerable. It required me to be real, without feeling as exposed and raw — no doubt more than I would have liked.
Finding our authentic selves is when we become whole with not just everything we want to be or everything the world sees us to be, but we are aware of everything we are. Our story as it is, not as people perceive it to be.
Allowing myself to be me, truly me, has given me more strength than fighting to keep those walls up ever did. It just took a little courage and a whole lot of letting go.
Michelle A. Homme 2016 ©