A couple of weeks ago, I was asked a pivotal question. My answer to it not only surprised me, it liberated me.
I was confiding to a friend and colleague that, when it comes to my livelihood, I've long been divided within. I've often wondered: How do I compromise my bohemian sensibilities with my driving creative ambition?
In the past couple of years, I have spent time and money up-leveling my entrepreneurial skill set... and it's led to huge leaps in my business and in my life. Yet something just hasn't been sitting quite right within. My biz training repeatedly reinforces that "being successful" as an author and coach is directly related to exposure. As an online entrepreneur, how seen you are matters big time... and social proof has become the ultimate measure of success.
But is it? Does it really matter how many web views, likes, and shares you get? Can you do great work, have global significance, and make money without all the celebrity persona BS? Some part of me was buying heavily into this notion of needing to be an authority in my given field, while my inner artist wants to live more simply and bare my soul only when I feel authentically-called.
Either way, I felt had to confess something...
Red-faced with shame and vulnerability, I admitted aloud for the first time:
"I'm ashamed to admit it, but I guess I have a burning need to be seen."
In all her wisdom, she didn't judge... she merely pressed on:
"So what does that mean to you? WHEN do you feel most seen?"
Now this was a watershed moment for me... because suddenly it dawned on me that I wasn't ashamed of the need to be seen itself, I was held hostage by the way in which I was conceptualizing it.
Celebrity status will never truly satisfy me; yet, experiencing the significance of my existence in the smallest of ways totally rocks my world. I know this because I have "been seen" for much of my adult life. I've taught and performed in front of literally thousands of people. Yet, in the avenues of greatest exposure I often felt the least revealed. Nothing has shown me myself as clearly as when I sit one-on-one with a client.
Why is that?
Because I feel seen when my vehicle & voice have deep and measurable impact.
When I listen with my heart and respond from my gut, only to then see a light that was once hidden ignite in a client's eyes. When the music tells my body what to do, and I offer its echoes directly to someone who falls in love with her luscious hips for the first time. When I risk and share the truth of my experience, and it's relevant to someone in the moment they need it most. When my self-expression means that even just one life has been altered in some positive way. Boom. DEPTH. IMPACT. That's when I feel seen.
Perhaps being seen is different for each one of us, and whether or not an audience is required depends up your unique way of touching the world and/or what it is you're after. It could be that the glowing possibility in your child's eyes is all the honest reflection you need. I'd like to offer that how deeply you connect with and influence the people in your immediate world is far more satisfying than how many friends/followers you have in a virtual one. At least I sure hope it is.
What does being seen mean to you, Reader? I'd love to hear your perspective.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.