Showing Up Fully: How I Discovered Greater Freedom Through Authenticity
“Hi, how are you?”
- A typical socially-acceptable interaction
Our happiness-obsessed culture doesn’t normally welcome the expression of negative or less than pleasant emotions. As a result, we often stuff our vulnerable, not-so-pretty parts down and present a seemingly happy façade to the world at large. Social media’s endless stream of people putting their best faces forward doesn’t make it feel any safer to express our truth either. As a result, many of our social interactions only scratch the surface of connection. We avoid showing ourselves fully to others because we have the often-justified fear that we’ll be judged, rejected, or ostracized. After all, our capitalistic society has to continue business as usual with minimal interruptions, and feelings are messy and unpredictable!
If you spontaneously asked me a year ago how I’m feeling, I probably would have thought it a bit of a weird question to ask and replied with a simple, defensive “fine!” without thinking about it too much. I would vent to my close friends about difficulties faced in life of course, but only in specific contexts. I thought that in order to be liked and accepted, I had to present myself to others as a strong, carefree, happy-go-lucky person. As a result, I became estranged from my true feelings, which affected my intuition and my trust in life; I had no idea that I was missing out on the rich fullness of lived experience by denying the expression of my truth!
And then I discovered Flowland and its offerings…
My experiences at Flowland have given me a safe space to reconnect with, express and integrate the messy, vulnerable parts of myself. I remember arriving at a Cozy event (Cozy is a regular Flowland event that celebrates platonic touch) after feeling like my heart had just gotten stomped on. My ego was severely bruised and tender as a result. In the past when I felt this way, I would rather stay at home and lick my wounds than sit in a sharing circle with a bunch of people I didn’t really know. However, something inside told me it was safe to go anyway, so there I was. When it was my turn to check in with the group, I told the truth about how I was feeling. And you know what? My honesty was met with so much compassion and tenderness from everybody participating in the event that it was overwhelming in the best sense. I went home that night feeling supported, seen and loved for who I truly was.
That night inspired me more than ever to continue to express my full truth when out in the world, rather than hide behind a pleasant mask. By acknowledging my full experience, I have better awareness of my emotions and I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I believe that by showing my more vulnerable side, I allow others to feel safer to express their truth as well and that leads to deeper, more meaningful interactions.
The more that I practice showing up fully with all my fear, vulnerability and humanity, the more integrated and whole I feel. My connections with others, whether it’s old friends, romantic partners, family, or complete strangers, have also become much deeper and more fulfilling. It’s not always easy to be real and sometimes I become aware that I’ve slipped back into my old habits, but Flowland is a precious resource for me to experiment with expressing myself fully to others and experiencing much greater aliveness as a result. I’m very grateful for it!