Being Seen

One of my former clients, a comedian, once told me about the dilemma he was forming into a show.  He said “if you tell a joke in a forest, is it funny.”  I thought, of course not, if you tell it and nobody can hear it, find it humorous, of course it isn’t funny.

I was reflecting back on my past year or so of life when I began to realize more and more how much I like attention.  I was shamed for it at the very young age when I convinced myself that becoming a doctor or doing something worthy is better than being famous.  I didn’t suffer from wanting fame, my mother was fairly known while I was growing up and she raised me alone so I had a chance to meet many artists, musicians, actors and politicians then.  In fact, being VIP was the way things were, I didn’t have to worry about my fake ambivalence to fame.

When I moved to NY after my high school, I slowly began to understand what being a nobody was like.  In some ways, it protected me; I didn’t have to live up to the standards imposed by the people I knew.  I had total freedom to be myself and also, to define what that was going to be.  Luckily, not being able to travel frequently to my home country allowed me to create myself over and over again.  On another hand, it began to feel slightly weird to always have to think about getting tickets for something in advance, to not be  just “let in,” to have to know I can pay for everything I spend, to find my own way and spend my money where my mouth is.

I slowly began to desire to be seen for who I thought I was – worthy of attention and VIP treatment.  However, my pattern of pretending that I didn’t really want that was still going strong.  In fact, even during the transformational leadership course, when I got to be the first one to breakthrough and qualify as a leader, I spent time helping other people get qualified instead of mastering my game of leading.  My game was leading, no question about that, but it took me suffering for months to recognize and fully own it.

It seemed to me that wanting to be seen was just not a cool thing to admit.  I even read a Huffington post article a few weeks ago written by a psychologist who was defining narcissism.  I was shocked to see that I was nowhere near being one regardless of my Facebook and Instagram activity that I sometimes worry about would make me seem lame.  But the actual change happened in one of the courses for women that I took over a year ago.

As other women were owning their desire to be seen, taking attention when they could, occupying the space, I began to feel the grudge inside.  I was hating them, hating their power, wanting so badly to diminish it so that someone, out there, would see me instead.  It seemed so clearly to me that for as long as they shined, nobody could ever see my light.  I felt deep pain, I was miserable.  I kept thinking how much I have to offer, how deeply I wanted to contribute to people, how much I am wanting to write, to create art and know that what I do makes at least one other person happy.  I was looking for validation outside of me, and, it didn’t work.

So, after crying to my husband, who is also a coach, and to a couple of my closest friends who I thought knew me deeply, I realized, my hate came from envy, but my envy came from pain, the pain that I felt so deeply as a new mom, as a double mom in fact, for missing out on life, for not living it fully, for not sharing all that I truly wanted to share.

Don’t get me wrong, I had to get over the: “who am I to do this?” and “I am not good enough” and “people will laugh” and “I don’t want to be hurt!” But the truth is, I was already hurting, deeply, from letting my talents and passions go to waste, for killing possibilities before they could ever be realized.

Finally, this is what I learned, “is the joke funny if you tell it in a forest?”  Well, that depends on who is telling a joke and why they are telling a joke.  Being heard cannot be a guiding light, it is only a bonus.  Finding the light, humor and passion inside and then doing the work, that is the game.  So if you do tell a joke in a forest, and you enjoy it, you find it funny, I would say: it is funny.

It is not wrong to want to be seen, recognized and even famous.  I just think that being driven by that desire alone is not a mighty cause.  But I do think that people have a lot more to offer than they are offering.  At the end, I don’t write because I want everyone to read it, although I appreciate every single person that does so.  I am writing because I don’t want what I have to say to die with me in a case it will matter to someone who may read it.

The Cure for FOMO

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I am not exaggerating when I say that I suffered from FOMO (fear of missing out) my whole entire life.  I was a single child and although my father had more children after me, neither him nor them were in my life, so I was pretty much on my own.  Everyone around me had siblings, it seemed.  Most people also lived surrounded by other kids, in buildings with neighbors, in communities where everyone played together.

I was a busy child, between music school, elementary school, language courses and numerous school activities, from choir, drama, basketball, math team, I really didn’t have so many consistent friends.  This is why to this day, people that I went to school with are some of the most intimate relationships I have.  I wasn’t lonely, by all means, but I tried so hard to be everywhere and be everything for everyone.  I tried so hard to please.

Looking back, reflecting, I have compassion for that little girl that wanted so badly to “belong” to be a part of something bigger.  I understand the yearning even now as I am approaching 40.  Yet, I think that yearning had me look for the outside sources for my own personal happiness and that’s, ultimately, what needed to be rewired.

I must say that motherhood kicked my ass.  Even when I had my first son, Adrian, I was beginning to see that I don’t have the freedom I once had.  We moved from Montreal to Florida and then back to New York City and I was constantly in search of people and communities to belong to.  When I had my second son, Marko, this is where having to stay at home, missing events my friends were going to, and having to say NO became more of a norm rather than the exception.  I was hurting inside.  It felt like I was going to be forgotten and the more I thought I’d be forgotten, the more I wanted to be visible, to share my life.

In a sense, that is what I am doing now.  I am sharing my life on Instagram, which connects to my Facebook.  I also recently revived this blog and started posting my videos on my Youtube channel.  So yes, all my actions are showing that I want to be out there, that I want to be SEEN, HEARD, KNOWN yet something deep inside shifted: this longing to not miss out on life.  I realized, my life is where I am. I created my business, my clients, my husband, my children, my home.  What I have is completely a product of what I worked for and instead of having to go out and mingle with people all the time, I am using this time to ground myself in who I am and what my life is about.

This weekend, there was an event where over 2000 women joined to celebrate what it is to be a woman and I was supposed to be a part of it.  I got sick and couldn’t let my husband, who also got sick, stay at home alone to take care of the kids.  So I cancelled and stayed “behind.”  This morning, when my husband took the kids to the park, I turned on some music and processed my sadness and feelings of missing out through my body.  I did what those women were doing in a room together (most likely anyway), but I did it at home.  It allowed me to accept myself and my life.  I truly believe that when we honor who we are and where we are in life, things can actually change.  I am not chasing that change anymore, I simply allow it. In a meantime, I am happy exactly as I am.