A Practice in Authenticity
Firsts are scary. Really scary. Firsts require that we do something new and unfamiliar. Firsts require us to expose ourselves to the world at the risk of being judged or rejected or both. And often, we are so scared by firsts or by the memory of unsuccessful or failed firsts that we may retreat to avoid the risk.
So I found myself, like many others, feeling anxious in anticipation of doing something new, facilitating my first workshop. I found myself asking the "what ifs…" I found myself wanting to be unconsciously competent, the master of workshops, where I could perform so easily that people would just assume that I have facilitated hundreds of workshops. I realized, however, that if I skipped to that place of competency or mastery, then I would have to miss out on the beautiful mess of uncomfortable emotions that allow us all to grow and evolve.
Because firsts are messy (in addition to scary). Firsts require us to make mistakes AND to learn from such mistakes. Firsts can be worth the risk if what we do is important to us. So, I decided to take the risk. I read hundreds of pages, I took notes, I reflected on my academic learning and my clinical experiences, I consulted with my colleagues, my family, and my friends, and I integrated and organized the information to create the curriculum for a six-day workshop series.
“I facilitated my very first workshop series and I wrote my very first blog (this one you're reading)…………
This month has been a month of firsts, which has led to numerous "what ifs…"
What if I facilitate this workshop and no one shows up?
What if I facilitate this workshop and I'm boring?
What if I'm not qualified to facilitate this workshop?
What if I write a blog about my first workshop and people judge me?
What if I don't know how to write a blog?”
I am grateful that I took the risk. And I am grateful that the attendees took a risk with me, because we all tried something new together.
We learned about the power of mindfulness while engaging in a mindfulness practice. We spoke about emotions, shame, the visceral reaction of shame, and the intense discomfort that causes us to withhold information and isolate from others to avoid judgment and rejection.
We took risks.
We shared parts of our stories. We moved towards what the workshop is all about, being okay with yourself.
To quote E. E. Cummings, "To be nobody but myself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting."
This is a battle. And there are certainly days when the battle rages and I question, even judge, my authentic self. I may alter who I am to accommodate or feel accepted by another, but the reality is that I come with strengths and growth edges. I make mistakes.
So I will fight the battle with self-compassion and with connection. I will surround myself with those who embrace mine and their authenticity rather than judge.
Aimee is a licensed clinical psychologist who earned her doctorate at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Rodolff has worked with adolescents and adults experiencing mood and anxiety symptoms, urges and/or engagement in self-destructive behaviors, trauma and complex trauma responses, relational concerns, and stressful life transitions. Dr. Rodolff believes in the use of humor to connect while creating a safe and validating therapeutic space in order to explore vulnerable topics and to move from surviving to thriving. Dr. Rodolff would be honored to join you in your journey to discover how you can be an authentic self as you navigate your life and the world.