Lately I have found myself faced with walking the walk of authenticity, not just talking the talk. One of the legacies of my conservative evangelical past is a subconscious instinct (and sometimes very conscious too) to avoid the judgement of others at all costs. This can also include assuming that someone may be judging me for my "New Age" spiritual path when in actuality they do not. And yes, sometimes they do judge me indeed, I have no doubt of it. Not long ago, I encountered a situation where the judgement was very real and directly expressed.
And when this happens, whether real or falsely assumed, it makes me feel intensely uncomfortable. So today I'm exploring this aspect of myself openly and honestly.
I write from the heart. I have deeply felt convictions about what I choose to write about, including engaging in dialogues online in which I often ask some very challenging questions. I have been doing this a very long time, without hesitation. When I write, I have no problems being intensely honest and forthright.
This is who I am when I write online, and now it's time to find a way to claim my authentic self in person too. I often find myself speechless when asked to explain not only what I do for a living, but what I choose to write about. If the person asking might be one who would find the heartfelt honesty and authenticity of my path offensive, I find myself waffling. I find myself hesitating. I find myself couching my responses in language softening what I actually do.
It's really not surprising, as this is what most evangelicals are taught to do from childhood. We are taught to fear judgement at all costs. We are taught to hide our thoughts that might be contrary to what we are being taught. So we learn to play this game of demure acquiescence, especially the women, no matter what we happen to actually be thinking, no matter what our doubts or questions actually happen to be, lest we experience the perceived shame of being judged. And even when we have learned to release most of our shame-based misconceptions, they can resurface both unexpectedly and predictably.
I find it ironic that I was caught in precisely this situation today - one day after I scheduled my first ever spiritual speaking appearance on the topic "Be the Master You Are", all about releasing the baggage of fear from our pasts. Yet one reason I chose this topic is as a reminder to myself, as much as to those who will be listening. Someone close to me mentioned yesterday that there is no better way to learn a topic than to teach it. And it is my intent to be as honest as possible when I do so. I'll make it clear that this is a process for everyone, including myself. Indeed the talk itself is a step on my own path of mastering my fear.
The walk of mastery does not require perfection. The walk of mastery is a process. Being the authentic master you are is actually all about loving yourself in the present moment, even when it seems the master is in hiding, even when it seems we want to hide who we are altogether. We are actually only hiding from ourselves. We are all masters on this Earth. We just need to remember who we are.