See, the competitive side of me wanted to find the best hiding place EVER, somewhere no one would think to look, a place from which I could emerge triumphant after all the other kids had been found and, despairing of finding me, were starting to call my name for me to just COME OUT ALREADY so we could start the next game.
I imagined the looks of awe and wonderment on my friend’s faces upon my return from such a place, and their repeated queries as to where, exactly, I had hidden. I’ll never tell.
But another, softer, side of my childhood self thought that the actual act of hiding was kind of boring and lonely. Scary, even. And so, in the middle of a game, I would often start to panic a teensy bit as the minutes went by and I was still hidden. Hearing the repeated cries of “I found you!” echo out across the yards as the other hiders were, one by one, discovered and, to my mind, released, this part of me wanted desperately to be found.
These cats hiding badly know what I mean. They aren’t hiding to be hidden. They’re hiding to be found.
Even today, though I am well past the age of neighborhood hide-and-seek, I find I still experience this same hiding tension. Because, truth be told, the competitive side of me still has a major interest in hiding from the rest of the world.
So, I often don’t say what I really think, for fear of looking stupid. Or I hesitate to reveal my true feelings, especially if they are particularly soft or needy, because I worry someone might take advantage of me if I do. And when I am feeling most broken and alone, I am REALLY wary of revealing this, because I’m convinced no one will understand or, worse, will think I’m incompetent to help others. I’m a psychotherapist, after all.
So, fearful of what others might think of me and wanting, as I think many of us do, to be seen as the smartest, strongest, and most emotionally stable gal in the room, I keep my real self hidden. And I am a very proficient hider, if I do say so myself.
But the softer side of me feels bored, lonely, and even despairing, when I go to this hiding place. Bored because I am so one-dimensional here. Lonely because I am not truly, authentically connecting with anyone. And despairing because I lack the context in which to see my brokenness and vulnerability as universal and normal.
And it’s not just about me. Despite several decades of training to the contrary, I really believe a certain kind of larger tragedy occurs when I’m too scared to offer the world my unique perspective, my one-of-a-kind Annie-shaped puzzle piece.
When we change ourselves to fit into a situation, we may be depriving that situation of the very element it needs to become what it can become.
– Anne Wilson Schaef
So it turns out, in life and in hide-and-seek, I THINK I want to have the best hiding place ever, and try my best to foil everyone’s attempts to find me. Until they keep not finding me, not seeing me. Until I get lonely and a teensy bit panicky.
Then I realize that, deep in my soft little heart, I don’t really want to be hidden. I want to be found and, ultimately, KNOWN for the unique bundle of goodness and darkness, strength and weakness, beauty and ugliness that I am. And so I continue to work to find the courage to come out, come out, wherever I am.
There’s nothing more daring than showing up, putting ourselves out there and letting ourselves be seen.
– Brene Brown
What about you? Are you struggling to show your weaker, more vulnerable side? Please tell us about your journey in a comment below. Come on out!
And, if this post got you thinking, check out That’s Mine; You Have Yours: The Importance of Being You and Brene Brown’s fabulous Ted Talk about the power of vulnerability.