Last night I watched a Ted Talk video about how everyone has a closet that they are afraid to come out of, whether you are gay or straight. (Please watch it, if you haven’t already). It could be your health, your relationship, or even your career that holds you prisoner. While we may have different walls, we are all still trapped in some way or another. In a moment where I needed encouragement to be brave, it was good timing to hear someone say to me, “Be Authentic, Be Direct and Be Unapologetic.”
I know I talk about it constantly, but I officially published a book recently. It is my life story. I’m not famous, I’m not a comedian and I haven’t murdered anyone. So my life story is pretty average. I’m also not a professional when it comes to writing. I independently published the book. I literally could have written the word “poop” on every page of the book and still gotten it published. So to put it in perspective, it’s a giant accomplishment to finish a book that took you six years to write but it’s only moderately impressive that I got published (seeing as I was the one who “accepted” my book for publishing).
That is a little tiny closet I need to come out of (picture the low door that you find under a stairwell that you store Tupperware with Christmas wrapping paper in). I somehow need people to know the truth that I am not that impressive for “getting published.” Only like 30% more impressive than another person who loves to write but never finishes a book. I have a lot of fear of being “exposed” on Oprah some day, so this honesty helps me cope.
Now that I’ve emerged out of that closet, I realize I’m standing in an even bigger closet. Not a walk in, but a moderately sized closet that you put your vacuum and old tennis rackets in. And like the woman from Ted Talk said, it’s not a comparison game of size or impact, a closet is not a place a person should live. Hard is hard. So I know I have to come out of this one too.
I look around and wonder what my walls are made of this time? Then I realize, I am surrounded by mirrors. And what I see frightens me, I’m afraid to open the door for fear that others will see my reflection. I’m afraid to step out because they will see the real me. But I also realize, that I have just published a book that makes those walls come tumbling down. I cower in the corner and wait for the crash.
My husband always says I care a little too much what people think of me. I have always lived in a world where disappointing someone lives in my gut for years. My small little closet of feeling inadequate was an easy closet to hide in. I could easily say, “well I’m not good enough, so I shouldn’t put my book out there.” I could stay in that small little world for the rest of my life. But the truth is, I’m just fine of a writer and most of the people who will be reading my book love me. They will read it with that lens and be proud of anything I write. Some would even herald a book full of the word poop, as long as my name was on the cover. Some people in my life are that good.
Knowing this helped me step out of that first prison, but once I broke free from that I realized it wasn’t the main issue. The main issue is that people I love will find out that I am no longer a Christian. People who have known me for years but we’ve lost touch. People who believe with their whole being might be offended by my words. I’m bracing myself for the fight, preparing to disappoint those I love. Because the number one rule of coming out of a closet is to be authentic, the first step is to open the door so people can see the real me. But then I also have to accept the fact that some people just won’t like what they see, and the last rule of “Be Unapologetic” is the hardest one.
I’m not sorry.
I have a panic attack writing those words. Wondering who is going to be offended, hurt or dismayed.
I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry.
Saying it three times, doesn’t really help. I’m just closing my ears and eyes and saying it loudly, even though I don’t really want to hear how people are reacting. What they really think of me.
Not apologizing goes against everything I know. Because I believe you should apologize whenever you have wronged someone. But I guess that is the trick. I only perceive that I have wronged someone and I realize changing my perception is not an easy task. So like the Ted Talk suggests, I must rip it off like a bandaid. Get it out there so I can learn what happens when you really step out, rather than what I perceive will happen. Deep breath. Here goes nothing…
© 2013 D. Willson