Budding in 2015 to Blossom in 2016

Reading between the lines on the walls of Fieldwork

2015 has been a year of tremendous growth. Just like a bud, I've had to shed the protective layers of fear I've built around myself over the years in order for me to start to reaching my fullest potential. It's required me to be seen, be vulnerable and get naked in order for me to grow unhindered.

One of my biggest fears has revolved around being seen.  This fear also encompasses several other fears- namely of being taken advantage of, judged, rejected and ridiculed. I've been a very private person for most of my life, largely because of my experiences with ridicule and rejection from friends and family when I was young. 

As a kid, I went to a very small private school in the Philippines and grew up with mostly the same classmates and teachers for 7 years. Because of the small size of the school I  had the same classmates year after year. I grew up with pretty much the same group of friends from the first grade up until 7th grade. Around the third grade, one of the girls in our circle started to pick one of us every week or so and decide that we shouldn't be part of the group for some random reason. She'd turn the whole group against the unlucky girl of the week based on some random reason that happened to annoy her. It broke my heart when the only friends I've had would completely alienate and ignore me at random without any warning at all. Since we were the only class in that particular grade, there was nobody else for me to really turn to. It made me wary of people, always telling myself that people will find a reason to not like you if you show them who you really are. So I didn't. Although I was always on the chubbier side and didn't think twice about it, as I got older, people noticed my weight more and more. That soon became my shield. 

Even though the girl moved away after fourth or fifth grade, that experience clouded my interaction with people ever since. I've spent most of my life keeping people at arm's length, keeping my personal interactions on a need-to-know basis.  Since my size and weight are one of the first things people notice, I subconsciously felt like it protected my inner self.  As long as they had that to notice and distract them, then maybe they wouldn't bother digging deeper into me. Even though it hurt my feelings when people would notice my weight, I'd rather have them find fault with something external that I didn't really identify with than find something about the REAL me that they didn't like. I figured that if I didn't let anybody see or get to know the real me, any ridicule or rejection would be based on a false or incomplete assumption on their part, which I felt protected me from taking any rejection or ridicule personally. I've always had this buffer around people so nobody would get too close. But I found that in trying to close myself off from the potential pain of rejection or ridicule, I also close myself off to a multitude of awesome friendships, interactions, possibilities and growth. 

As I grew up, the Internet became a wonderful avenue for me to share parts of my inner self. Without the protection or facade of appearances, I've had various outlets over the years to share my thoughts with strangers. I've met strangers from AOL, where I met my Hun, to Livejournal, where I met a supportive group of people, some of whom I still keep in touch with today. With the increasing concerns over predators, scammers and identity theft, however, once again, protection became a concern. My interactions became limited to those already in my circles and the seemingly very real fear of somebody taking advantage of me made it seem necessary to put up fortified digital walls. All my social profiles and photos were set to private and I rarely added people I didn't already know. Being seen, even digitally, seemed dangerous and I closed myself off again to protect myself.

I've spent the last year and a half in deep introspection as I embarked on a journey to grow spiritually. This process has been mostly solitary as I've had to get to know myself, ask myself questions, and really delve deeper to find answers to questions that I've always had, but never bothered exploring. After a while, the journey gets lonely, especially when you don't have people you feel you can readily bounce your questions, answers, or ideas off of. Sure, I have acquaintances, family and friends but they were either just flat out not interested, not available or too far. I would get intermittent doses of wonderful thought provoking and heart opening conversations when schedules would permit and I would willingly drive long distances just to get whatever tastes I could get a hold of. But I craved for a regular source of meaningful, deeply personal and non-judgmental connection and exchange. Keeping myself closed off to the world was not going to give me that.

I decided to allow myself to be seen. Part of the process of fully embodying yourself is not only to be the best person you can be, but to share yourself as well. As I said in one of my most revealing posts, what good is it to shine my light if I'm just going to cover it up? Changing my social media profiles from private to public may not seem like a big deal but it was a huge stepping stone for my growth. I've opened myself to the public (whomever that may be) since the beginning of 2015. No aliases, no decoys. Just me. Everything I post is an accurate representation of a part of me and I am not ashamed of any of it. I've gotten past the need to protect myself and let most of my guards down.

I've opened myself up not only online, but in the "real" world as well. I volunteer as an ABC reader at my daughter's school. Although I was initially talked into volunteering the first year, I've chosen to continue doing it for a second year because I realized that the emotional awareness and caring the program teaches just might prevent other kids from experiencing what I went through as a child. I almost bawled like a baby in front of a bunch of 7 year olds when we were doing an activity and one of the kids shared that "I'm not going to be your friend" was one of the most hurtful things somebody said to them. I teared when I shared that somebody said that to me too and I know how it felt. When so many kids shared ideas how to handle that situation it made me so hopeful both for them and myself.

I've also dared to open myself up business-wise. It took me a whole year to find the confidence to finally put the work I'm trying to do outside my circle of family and acquaintances. I was rewarded with inspiring feedback and wonderful connections. I'm excited to strengthen and expand those connections in 2016 and have more people to play with.

So far, since making myself open and vulnerable, nothing "bad" has happened. My Hun, not realizing my profiles have been open to the public since the beginning of 2015, recently expressed his worry for me. "What about your work? Aren't you worried they'll find something and fire you?! You're not worried about all these people seeing you?!" Nope. Not anymore. I haven't had any visible haters, no stalkers that I'm aware of, nor has anybody stolen my identity. I haven't gotten fired for any of my posts nor have I been reported to any authorities(yet. LoL). In being vulnerable, nothing has been taken from me at all and yet it's opened me up to receiving. Whatever comes out of me being seen and sharing myself will all be learning experiences, whether they're "good" or "bad". They're all just messages in this constant communication in this beautiful conversation with Creation.

Like a tender bud, I've endured the winter and pushed through my layers of protective scales and fuzzy warm insulation and I'm ready to make like a tree and leaf(haha). We all have to come out of our protective layers in order to fully grow and blossom. In allowing myself to be seen being myself in the most intimate way, at my most vulnerable, I've organically drawn the soul connections I was longing for through new friends but through deeper connections with those already in my circle as well. I feel lighter, shinier, and most importantly, free. Free to be me.