Today's topic is the first part of a series of posts I will do on myself. In particular, this series focuses on my essence and survival mechanism. Who am I being when I'm simply in authenticity? How am I showing up when I am triggered? The intent of these posts is three-fold: First, to provide you an understanding of how I operate, and what makes me tick. Second, to share transparently, and vulnerably, as part of my own journey in integrity. Third, in the hopes that you will take away something for yourself - maybe in the way you choose to show up, or simply recognizing that you are responsible for the day you are having. The first part of my essence is connection.
When most people finally have their essence reflected to them, there is at least one aspect that they have trouble sitting with. For me, there were two - this was one of them. It was both highly resonant and repugnant to me that connection was part of the essence of my being.
I've always loved talking with people, and I certainly enjoy talking to a lot of people at parties and events. But I also recognize that I do a ton of things to avoid connecting with people. I would switch to the other side of the street to avoid passing an acquaintance. I would take the stairs instead of the elevator, ostensibly for my health, but really because it minimized the risk of having an awkward conversation in the elevator. I would wear earbuds no matter where I went, no matter what I did. In part to pass the time with music, podcasts or books, but largely because it ensured I never felt lonely and always had an excuse for why no one was talking to me.
It wasn't until I started to really take on this work that I recognized that it was my survival mechanism that was responsible for these patterns. I was managing a fear that people would find me awkward, unfunny, uncool, and a waste of time. So as to avoid that, I would completely avoid the situation that would lead to them reaching those conclusions.
Here is the real gold in this: by managing the story that people would find me awkward, uncool, unfunny and a waste of time, I was avoiding any possibility of having a genuine connection with them and actually discovering something different. I was managing my fear that people would not connect with me and wouldn't give me a chance - and in doing so, was preventing the possibility of anything else happening. I was precluding connection from ever starting.
This is the irony of how our survival mechanism works. It exists to manage our fears, and so we act accordingly. In doing so, we actually solidify those fears as part of our reality, rather than a simple story.
When I first had this part of my essence reflected to me, I struggled to take it on. I was waiting at the bus stop to head to class, and saw two people, one of which I had met briefly a year earlier. We hadn't said anything else to each other since then, but I remembered him. I stood at the bus stop for a while, beating myself up for being scared and not talking to him. I was disempowered - how could I be connection, and yet not be making that connection?
But, when we got on the bus, I committed in, that moment, to doing something different: to taking on my essence. I went and sat down next to them, and said hi. And you know what? They didn't think I was a waste of time, or unfunny, or not cool, or awkward. We had a great conversation. Both of them are still friends today.
You see, life is actually really simple. We need only be our truest selves. If we show up this way in everything we do, the rest of life will work out. There will be successes, difficulties, challenges and moments of great sadness. But all that we really need in those moments is to be ourselves - our essence.
Those two guys might have acted really awkward, or even been offended that I chatted with them. If that was how it went, that was how it went. All that I needed to be in that moment was connection. From there, everything else can flow with ease. We cannot be responsible for how other people show up - only ourselves.
It's by managing our fears and stories that life becomes difficult. We hold that things should be different than they are, or that we need to show up a certain way in order to appease people and get through the day.
So, what can you see for yourself? Where do you see your survival mechanism causing you to do things that sabotage your essence? What stories and fears are you managing?
Have a look, and remember: life can be easy - we just have to choose it.