When I was in undergrad, I recall sitting on the floor in drama class doing a fun exercise demonstrating increasing levels of self-disclosure.
The first question, “Tell us where you are from.”
We would each take a turn answering. As we continued the rounds, the questions got deeper.
The final question, “What is your greatest fear?”
I would say roughly 26 out of 30 students replied the same way… that they didn’t want to live an “ordinary life”—just be average with no impact…you know, The white picket fence…2.3 kids….2 cars in the garage (keep in mind, this was nearly 20 years ago).
And so the pursuit for each of us began. Go bigger, go larger, be more impressive.
With Christian roots, the issue got further exacerbated. Now we projected God to be holding His own measuring stick. In our achievement-based selves, we made Him the ultimate Achievement Master we could never outrun. Plagued by the question (as we projected it to mean), “Will He say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.'”
I didn’t know it then, but the exhaustion of that kind of life would ultimately catch up with me years later, after I had already amassed a sizable collection of accolades.
Empty. They’d leave me empty.
Don’t get me wrong. I am visionary.
But here’s the difference.
Is the grandiose work we do in the world to affirm our sense of worth, or out of our knowledge of our worth?
When it comes from the former, we will ultimately face a day when we realize it is not enough.
When it comes from the latter, our work in the world is even more meaningful and doesn’t leave us empty. It comes from a place of fullness and flows with grace and ease.
What I wish I would have been told that day in that drama class (even though I may not have believed it), is the extraordinary life is not somewhere outside of yourself. It is not a destination. It is not a pursuit. It is not elusive.
The extraordinary life is within you. The extraordinary is YOU. Being.
It wasn’t until this year that I truly experienced the fullness of love. I can’t believe I’m even saying that.
And you know what? It came from letting all my sh*t hang out. Yeah, that’s right. I used that word intentionally, even though I know it will offend some. But truly, there is no better word for it. (And certainly no pretty word.)
It came from deciding I would allow myself to be fully seen. I didn’t hide behind my achievements, I didn’t hide behind my best portrayal of myself. No, I showed up in a safe group of people and said, “Here are all the things I would never want you to know about me. Here are the things I’m ashamed about. Here are all the awful thoughts I’ve thought about my mom, about others.”
And for the first time in my life, I experienced love like never before.
Because the truth is, we don’t ever really let love fully in when we know we are hiding. We feel it is conditional because we connect the love we received to be attached to the best parts of ourselves that we delude ourselves to believing we have successfully portrayed.
I get it now. I know love because I AM. Period. I AM. No more striving.
Oh, and God’s love… I am swimming. I still cannot fathom its fullness and its total unconditional nature. If my friends, and safe champions of my soul, loved me so well… how much more He?
I’m loving you today, dear one. I’m hopeful you see the beauty of you when you look in the mirror. No need to wear a mask.
Life extraordinary is for your taking. Just show up. Be. That’s all it takes.
Here’s to championing your soul, ~ V
P.S. I love you (because I’ve received it for myself).