Dimming Your Light? Don’t Do That!
Recently I was at a meeting of the women’s group in my church. We were discussing a video we had seen about love, and someone made a comment about how they had struggled since the last election. Someone else said that she felt our group should be a “no politics” zone. Really? “No politics,” hmm…that doesn’t work for me.
Here’s the thing: I don’t segment my life that way. Politics, creativity, spirituality—they are all part and parcel of me, and I am not leaving pieces of me at the door or by the wayside so that “other people” aren’t uncomfortable.
If I have a no politics zone, what comes next? What other difficult conversation do I turn my back on? What other subject becomes forbidden? What other piece of who I truly am stays hidden so that you are not, in fact, meeting me? Not all of me, just the pieces that might be acceptable. The pieces that won’t challenge you. Or me.
Bringing all of who we are to the interactions that we have with others is scary as hell. What if they don’t like this or that part of who we are? What if this belief or that way of being in the world is unacceptable to them? What if we are ostracized? What if we find ourselves alone? That’s the fear, and it may happen for a bit; you may, in fact, be in a group that are simply not your people.
But your people, my people, are out there, and the only way that we find each other is to tell the truth of who we are: the whole, messy, entire truth.
More than that, I believe that the only way we heal the divisions between us is to allow ourselves to be fully seen. To be willing to risk showing up as who we are, with our fears, scars, warts, and all—because it’s then that our humanity connects with the humanity of others. It is then that we become relatable.
Think about that person you’ve always admired but felt a bit intimidated by. They seem to have it all together, whatever “it” is: job, relationships, lifestyle, family, or the whole package. Their apparently perfect life makes it really hard to feel that we have anything to offer them. Hard to believe that they have ever felt the frustrations and anxieties that we experience.
Then something happens, the curtain is pulled back, and we see that they, too, have fears and flaws. That’s when we start to feel like we know them in a deeper way. That’s when we start to connect as one struggling human to another. That’s when we can build a real relationship with them. But for this to happen. we need to show up as who we are.
For real connection to happen, we have to be less concerned about awkward or difficult conversations and more concerned about the truth.
All those things that most of us were taught to not discuss in “polite company”—money, sex, our screw-ups, politics, our family, or our specific struggles are the very things that all of us share in common. Each of us is concerned with at least some of those things. Being able to talk about our experience and how we got to the place and beliefs we currently hold opens space. Space for someone else to do the same. Space to connect. Space to develop empathy. Not to change minds, but to be heard and to hear so that we can understand.
So I won’t accept a “no politics” zone. I won’t silence myself and leave bits of myself outside, as though they are somehow shameful. I will speak my creative, spiritual, and political truth with as much openness, grace, and love as I can, and support others in doing the same. I won’t dim my light so that others are comfortable. Neither should you.
Previously published: https://www.omkariwilliams.com