A frequent phrase out of my mouth in high school was, “Just be real.” My history teacher overheard and asked me what I meant by that. Back then I explained it this way: stop playing games, don’t manipulate, be honest, don’t keep secrets, stop trying to control me. There was a lot going on back then. I was desperate for some realness.
Even though I had the insight to understand what wasn’t working for me, I had no idea how to BE real, or how to find people who would be real to me. I lived with pretense and denial, and as a consequence, fear and shame settled in and took residence in the pit of my gut. The wasted years of potential and impact, because of the false beliefs I adopted, breaks my heart.
Fast forward thirty years to this blog and to this post. In the last several months, I see I am in good company. These are direct quotes from people I’ve had interaction with.
“I’ve always wanted to be in music, but I landed here instead.”
“I’m just surviving, getting by day-by-day. I’m not really living.”
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant, but there’s too much to lose if I fail.”
“I’ve always wanted to publish a novel; it’s still sitting in my drawer.”
“I work myself to the bone so I can retire and live the good life.”
“Life isn’t fair. It constantly throws stuff at you. It’s like a card game. Some people are dealt good hands, they are the lucky ones, and some are dealt bad hands, we are being punished. That’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“My life didn’t turn out as well as yours.”
“I was given a bad lot in life. Luck of the draw.”
“It’s too late to get an education.”
“I’m too old, my time has passed.”
“I’m so ugly.”
“Who else would want me?”
“Of course this is happening to me, why wouldn’t it?”
“I’m not good enough.”
“My product isn’t good enough to sell. I don’t want to sell something that isn’t perfect. It takes too long to make it perfect.”
“I have no idea where I’m headed in life.”
“People will make fun of me.”
“I wasn’t born with any kind of privileges. I didn’t come from a good family.”
“I have kids. What dreams? What purpose?”
“I want to start this new product line, but, who would want what I have to sell?”
“Nothing is ever going to change. This is my life until I die.”
“My insecurities cause me to view myself as less than. But I am smart.”
“I really just want to die.”
Fear and shame permeate this list. This breaks my heart because every single statement was uttered by an amazingly talented and beautiful person and we are missing out on real fulfillment.
One of the reason’s I love shows like American Idol and The Voice is that it highlights the fact there is real talent lurking around every corner. Didn’t tears fill your eyes when Susan Boyle first sang, “I dreamed a dream” on Britain’s Got Talent?
A plain farm girl with no formal training brought the house down with a voice she was created to use. Her voice is a gift that was given to her—not to keep, but to share—and that makes our heart sing as well. When we are in the presence of a person who is doing what they were created to do, when they are operating in their sweet spot, it’s an out-of-this-world-experience.
And when you hear your favorite artist hit a high note, or your favorite band blend into magical harmony, or you see a craftsman build or create something or witness a philanthropist donating time or resources or you experience a person who has overcome tremendous odds to achieve or you watch your favorite team win the National Title with their third-string quarterback—doesn’t that make your heart resonate with the hallelujah chorus? Aren’t you filled with unexplained emotion at that moment?
Why am I asking this question? Why do I keep writing posts about fear and shame and boundaries and pretense and character and co-dependency and insecurity and passive-aggressiveness? Because these behaviors are anchors; they hold us back from not only living our purpose but from being real and having real relationships that last.
If we refuse to let go of our fears and insecurities (shame), our gifts and dreams die out and they do not have the chance to make a positive impact on the world. We can actually miss our purpose for being here. We are then unfulfilled and our relationships suffer.
If we are intentional about our lives, instead of passively letting things come down the pike, everything changes. We have to believe we are worthy, that we have been given gifts to share, and that there is a God who loves us who has given us a purpose.
I’ve poured through a large amount of resources to help untangle the chaos, to live with intention, to begin building and living a legacy before it’s my turn to go. I don’t want to miss my destiny. We all have one. And I don’t want you to miss yours either.
Many of the organizations and programs that I have used, that I trust, and that are safe and solid places to learn and grow are listed on the resources page on my website. Books will be added soon.
At my funeral, I don’t want people to simply acknowledge I was here. I hope people will say that I learned how to be real, that I made a difference, large or small, and that I loved God so that I could love others with my gifts with intention and purpose.
–Tara Schiro is the author of “No Arms, No Legs, No Problem,” the inspirational memoir of Bronze-Medal Paralympian, Bob Lujano, NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon, Ingram Spark, and Barnes & Noble. www.TaraSchiro.com