These days, I have been pondering quite a bit about what it takes for me to L!VE deeply into my full identity. And as I explore this notion, it leads, more often than not, to more questions: How do I exist unapologetically in a world that perpetually mandates my gratitude and perpetually requests that I ask forgiveness for being just who I am? How will people work to relieve me of my gifts and talents, and what parts of me will they want to leave behind? What will be stolen away with no citation; not even a footnote indicating that I once was? As I allow myself to waft afloat prickly questions, one thing becomes so evident: It will take great courage in the face of our country’s politics, polarities, and patriarchies to swim upstream, wearing my dignity and identity like a straightjacket, hugging me closely and giving me the security I need to move forward, while the whole world sees it all as “crazy.”
The reality is that once we choose to L!VE out all of who we are, suffering is inevitable. Either we will suffer because we fearfully choose to continue on as we are, suffering the pain of discontent, never willing to bet it all on the fullness of ourselves, or we will suffer because we are courageously carving out a new identity for ourselves, wrought with the instigation and interrogation of us and others, who yearn for the olden days of comfort, knowing just what to expect. I say, if I am going to suffer either way, then it may as well be on behalf of the manifestation of my whole self, unapologetically L!V!NG and pouring out all of who I am! I will L!VE courageously into the suffering of my choosing, rather than the assigned suffering of others’ comforts and standards.
It’s both ironic and amazing what happens when we choose to L!VE out the fullness of my identity. People around us become excited at what we become! It really is amazing! We know when we are in our sweet spots, and others notice it, too. They begin to articulate what they see, and when they do, it is not long before they invite us to use my gifts in just the way that they imagine. Notice this. It is an important dynamic of which to take note: for it is one thing to be celebrated by others, and it is another to have our full identities exploited or co-opted in the process.
There is a surefire way to know when people are celebrating you versus when they want to capitalize upon you in a way that is inauthentic: relationship is the litmus test for all. When people enjoy your fullness, they want to get to know you, build relationship with you, and make room for your fullness, as they share their fullness with you as well. But when people start to take the parts they choose and leave the rest, when they wanna “tweak you, just a bit,” when they take portions and re-program you “for the greater good,” well then, that becomes a recipe for co-opting and exploitation, and your full self will identify graceful ways to usher them along.
Enough said, I think, except that I want to say a bit about binaries. We spend a lot of our time deciding between this or that, us and them, these or those. And for some reason, we really do water down our existence to almost always having to choose between only two things. As you (along with me) do the work of discovering your fullness, do consider that some parts of us are already there, some parts of us need to get there, and some parts of us are a big fat question mark! Ha! Allow yourself the space to rest in the tension–to be in a space of uncertainty–and allow yourself the time and space to let some things linger–sometimes gray is as good a color as black or white. There is no need to rush off to the left or run off to the right–enjoy the dance that happens in the MIDDLE, and give yourself permission to do a little two step in the space of unknowing, trusting that what you need is already there…simply twirl until it falls upon you. Selah.