It took me a while to realize that I had a reputation for saying shit you’re just not supposed to say. Not necessarily offensive stuff (though sometimes,) but more blunt and honest, what some may say should be one’s ‘inside voice’ (like keep that inside your own head,) or simply ‘too much information.’
While I don’t actually recall the conversation, my best friend’s mom loves to remind me of the time in our late teens when she asked how our weekend was and I said, all full of innocent joy and enthusiasm, “Great! I lost my virginity!”
As a kid, I was known for saying things to teachers and administration that kids just didn’t say, from challenging the status quo, to mobilizing a cause, to simply pointing out (I flush with shame thinking back,) how they could be more effective in communicating with the students. As a teen it was pointed out that I just ‘tell parents things that you’re not supposed to tell parents.’
When I traveled in my teens and twenties and would send out e-newsletters, I’d inevitably get at least one reply that would say something to the effect of ‘I’m pretty sure I wasn’t meant to get this super graphic and personal update.’ But they were. Apparently not everyone wants to hear about how hard it is to treat a yeast infection in Thailand.
For quite a while, I didn’t recognize this aspect of ‘my voice’ as a total strength. I identified as being ‘too much’ or ‘inapropriate’. I wondered if I lacked discernment or respect (for myself or others.) But what I’ve come to realize, both for myself and for those who are working with refining their gifts, is this:
Our gifts begin rough. Our gifts are often messy or raw or come out in ways that, (because they’re ‘different from the norm’ and lack skill at first,) can be something that others react to or recoil from. Or that we ourselves invalidate, or feel shame around and hide away.
Investigate these parts of yourself, they may lead to openings to your greatest contribution.
Over time I’ve come to know this willingness and capacity to say what’s not being said, to bring either irreverence or honesty, to name what I feel or what I see, as not only one of my greatest skills, it actually helps to liberate others. My skill with it has developed as well. I can use it to cultivate intimacy, to name injustices or obscenities that many step over or accept, to validate experiences that many question the validity of and to create a sense of shared experience and empathy.
I’ve come to know this aspect of myself as my own tool to shine light on that which needs to be illuminated.
I’m more conscious now. My cuss words are chosen really intentionally. I’m continually feeling for when more transparency or an ‘over share’ will actually move the conversation to a new place or when pointing to what’s ‘felt in the space’ that no one is talking about will call everyone into greater presence.
My biggest fear in being irreverent is that I’ll hurt or offend someone. My biggest fear in being honest and transparent is that I’ll be killed, (not necessarily rational, I’ll give you that, but valid none the less.)
You know how many times someone’s said “I can’t believe you just said/wrote that”? Lots.
And yes, many of those times have been a little much, or off side.
But when I’m pointing to the elephant in the room, or the unnamed part of someone’s pain, or drop a wisdom bomb, or tell the truth about something that allows someone else to tell the truth, well in those moments, “I can’t believe you just said that” is followed up with, “thank you.”
You’re fucking welcome.