“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
As the question hung in the air I could feel the muscles in my throat tense up and my head began to throb. When we turned to our neighbors to share, I found myself spinning a lie. I had a vision. God was moving in my heart and I had desires that pointed me in a particular direction. But I was too afraid to share. I was worried about what other people would think. So instead of giving voice to my true self and committing to the core practice of share who you are, I just said what I thought everyone wanted to hear.
Have you ever done that? Perhaps you are afraid or embarrassed to share the deep stirring within your soul because of what others will think of you. Maybe you think people will take it personally if you desire something different. Or it may be that your deep longings expose the most vulnerable parts of you…better to be safe than sorry. So you put on the mask and refuse to step into a place that is risky. You side-step the opportunity to give voice to your true self and share who you are…You’re not alone.
Everyone desires to be truly known. On the surface, it may seem easier to hide or deny parts of ourselves, but in the long run, it corrupts our soul, hurts our relationship with God and others, and can even damage our physical health. With stakes this high, how can you be true to yourself while negotiating the road ahead? How can you sort out your inner thoughts and wrestlings so that you can share who you are with those trusted people around you? Here is one suggestion: write.
The digital age has brought pen and paper nearly to extinction but I would encourage you not to be so quick to give it up. Writing…the art of physically moving the pen or pencil across the page and pouring out your thoughts, has been shown to be not only emotionally cathartic but also provides a physical benefit, lowering blood pressure and relieving anxiety. Writing helps you to clarify your thoughts, process ideas and allows you to give voice to the real story of who you are. Some of those writings you may want to keep and others you may rip to shreds. Either way, writing is a great outlet and practice to care for your physical, emotional and spiritual health and helps you give voice to your true self. And it will prepare you to share who you are with others!
Did you have a day that was frustrating and you are feeling the residual effects? Write.
Do you feel like you have a dream inside of you that you aren’t ready to share? Write.
Are you being called to a rhythm of life that is different? Write.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Write about that too.
Give it a try. Pull out a pen and piece of paper and let it fly! The idea isn’t to be Hemingway or produce the next best selling memoir, so don’t worry about editing or being critical of what you’ve written. Express your thoughts and desires. Be honest. Don’t hide. Find your voice and don’t hold back. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and you may even have some fun in the process!