All of my life I’ve been Too Scared. Not as in I am beyond scared but I’ve always been terrified of being myself because I thought I was too much of one thing or another.
Too religious, too coarse, too awkward, too emotional, too Christian, too liberal to be a “good” Christian, too Christian to be a good artist… too much.
I felt that I was a contradiction. I have been afraid of being myself. I have tried to stay in the center of the road when at times I wanted to veer off the road all together, chasing rabbit trails and exploring what lies beyond the everyday.
I have held back. Here in this space that is mine, and yours if you want it to be, I have self-edited. I have deleted words that were too racy or religious. I have worried what my pastor, preacher, teacher, banker, parents, kids, friends’ children, church members, and peers would think if I said what I really thought. If I dropped the mask all together and was 100% totally me. Unfiltered. Raw. Vulnerable.
That’s what it boils down to really. I’ve been too scared to let it ALL hang out and in doing so I feel like I’ve cheated not only myself, but my readers. Because I’m more than just a punchline. More than just a mother. I’m not “just” an anything. I am Me– and the older I get, the more I like Me.
This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to be at Creative Alliance 2012.
It’s very difficult for me to articulate what this experience meant to me… it was a creative retreat, a conference of 50 women. The differences between CA and other conferences I’ve been to is staggering but when I was explaining it to Sister Wife I said, “Other conferences I’ve been to have been about self-promotion. At CA everyone there was thinking, ‘What can I give to this group? How can I help the women that are here?’” And because everyone there came to give, everyone there left with something.
The last night of CA my dear, sweet, friend Ann (read her blog, stalk her regularly, you will love her to bits and pieces) hosted a reading featuring about 20 of the attendees original works. She had gently prodded me to read and I shared a story I thought I could never share anywhere else. When Ann read it she emailed me: WHY can’t you read this somewhere else??
Because it’s too much of me, I thought immediately.
I read the piece there, knowing that I was surrounded by a safety net of creative women who were all in this one space trying to dig deeper into themselves to produce better art, to be more creative and more themselves. And you know what? They loved me– Jesus freak, f-bomb dropper, and one big contradiction. They laughed and they accepted me and they got it.
And just like that, surrounded by the laughter of some of the most diverse and amazing women from all over the country, something broke inside of me and I realized– I’m not too scared anymore.