Write, delete, write, delete…

My phone is in my hand and I’ve typed a comment to a post. I then pause, delete it. Write a different response, pause and delete it. Likely I never leave a comment.

I’m sitting with a group of people (social distancing of course) and the topic is interesting and I remember something I’ve heard or an experience I’ve had that could add to the conversation. I pause.. and never share.

Can you relate?

I grew up trying to be invisible. I hid my body, barely spoke, I tried to blend with my surroundings. I wanted to be included, be involved but didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I had a reputation of not saying much, even in business. I did amazing work, got things done, lead great teams and when I did speak, people listened. I have always assumed that my voice had power because I didn’t overuse it. Then, in what seems like forever ago, I stood in a basement full of people and declared that I was visible. Since then I’ve done a lot to be visible. A lot!

Today, I realized, that although I have done a lot to be visible, I still have work todo. I realized that I still filter my voice and get nervous when I become unsure how to filter.

I realized this as I found myself writing a comment and deleting. I realized it when I thought of a recent driveway drink event and found myself hesitating to share in the conversations. One on one, I can talk your ear off. I can move from one topic to the next and keep going. One on one, I can figure out your interests and flow with the conversation. I can tame my quirky or bring out my quirky. One on one, I’ll bring out the version of me that I think fits you the best. I’m still me. For example, I just can’t get into country music, I don’t enjoy a lot of swearing, I prefer Marvel over DC, I like live sports but do not enjoy watching it on TV. I don’t enjoy the Simpsons, Archer, Family Guy etc. I love to read and if you want to talk about business processes I get excited. So when I say I bring out the version of my that I think fits best, it is not that I become someone I’m not. You get me… you just get me with different dials turned up or down.

However, something happens when we are no longer one to one. Something happens when I don’t know what dials to turn up or down. When I go to make a post, a comment. The initial thought is me without any filters. The initial thought is what I find funny or interesting or think will be of value. The initial thought is raw me. Then I think of someone specifically that might read it, and I change it. Then I think of someone else and change it again. Then I just start to think that my comment doesn’t add anything to the conversation and I delete it.

I’ve just assumed that I do this because I’m analytical and overthink. I’ve assumed it is because I’m an introvert. I’m shy?

If I’m honest with myself. If I call myself out… I think I’m still invisible. I think I temper my quirky, my opinions, my thoughts, my voice to “keep me safe”. Don’t get me wrong. I’m MORE visible then the day I stood up and declared I was visible (after the facilitator missed me because I was just that good at being invisible). Yet, I’m still not fully visible.

I like to say that people, or ogres, are like onions (thank you Shrek) and we have many layers. As we peel back one layer, we expose the next layer. I think I am now aware of my next level of invisibility. The next layer to peel back and expose the new layer of my voice. One of the things that I am going to have to come for terms with is that raw me is not for everyone. It is time that I learn that that is ok. Time to open myself up to letting my tribe find me so that we lean in together. Time to accept that I have lots to say, even more to share, and trust that the right people will hear it.

This is my onion layer. What is yours? Share with me.

“Life isn’t much more than a big dig through layers of doubt and fear into new levels of power and potential.”

Robin Sharma