I almost let it stop me. I almost let it stop from a lot of things, including starting my business and writing this blog each week. “It” was the fear of disappointing or offending people, the fear of being judged or criticized.
Years ago when I first read The Artist’s Way, there was a section on fame, on learning to be ok even if you never gain notoriety as an artist. I practically skipped that section. That section didn’t apply to me. I had no desire for fame. I much preferred privacy. I much preferred anonymity. I preferred staying in the shadows. There’s no one to judge me or criticize me in the shadows. It’s safer there. So I stayed there quietly with my mind full and my mouth shut.
I was convinced that putting myself out there in the world, my thoughts, my beliefs, my gifts, my spirit, required thick skin that I simply didn’t have. My thoughts about God, our culture, love, our value and worth as human beings are not always conventional. They do not always match the status quo. People may think I’m strange or weird or, even worse, wrong.
One day during my Sunday meditation time, I felt my Divine inner voice pose a question in my mind, “What would you do or say if you weren’t afraid of disappointing anyone or offending anyone?” I paused to contemplate that. A rush of words and thoughts and dreams poured into my head.
The voice continued, “Then do that and say that.” It seemed unthinkable until that moment. But right then a tiny crack opened to this possibility of finding my authentic voice, of living my authentic life, even if it meant acquiring critics.
One night not long after starting my business, I took my nightly gratitude walk with my mind racing. Someone had unsubscribed to my mailings. Someone had unfriended on me Facebook. What did it all mean? Had I upset someone? Had I offended someone? What did I do wrong?
Under the starry night sky, my inner voice spoke again, “You have a unique gift to offer the world. Your gift is not for everyone. Some people don’t need what you have to offer. Some people don’t want what you have to offer. Some people aren’t ready for what you have to offer. And it’s all ok, because some people will be changed by what you have to offer.”
After that anytime I encountered what could be considered criticism, I imagined myself as a tall glass of lightly sweetened iced tea with lots of ice. And some people like their tea unsweet or super sweet or with just a touch of ice or with a little squeeze of lemon. And some people prefer coffee instead, just plain black coffee. And that’s ok. And we don’t have to be offended by that. No one has to be offended by that. We get to choose if we want to be offended or not.
I almost let it stop me. And if I had to be honest, sometimes I still do. I am working through that. I am growing and evolving. I am realizing that if I choose to come from a place of love instead of fear, if I choose to go within and discover who God created me to be, to live from my truest self possible, then the pain of rejection or criticism or judgment hurts less and less, and maybe one day will be gone.
I am learning to enjoy the tall glass of tea that I am, even if I’m not for everyone.
I am certain that, like me, you have a unique gift to offer the world, a unique voice to share. Not everyone will understand it. Not everyone will want to hear it. You don’t have to deprive the ones who need your voice, your gift, your spirit, so you can keep the others at bay. Most importantly you don’t have to deprive yourself. You might just be that cool glass of freshly squeezed lemonade with extra pulp that the world’s been waiting for. Now why would you want to deprive anyone of that?