I was super shy as a kid. I hated it when people looked at me and I never liked to look people in the eye. When my sisters really wanted to get to me, they would just stare at me. Being the typical youngest child, I would tattle tale and yell to my Mom, "Missy and Megan are looking at me," and my Mom trying to appease the chaos of the situation would simply yell back, "Girls, stop looking at your sister!" And sure enough they would stop, but I knew future stares were always looming and I would simply grow frustrated wishing I had a better comeback than being the all dreaded tattle tale.
This story keeps coming to mind lately. With two chemo treatments under my belt, I have officially shaved my head. While I have a fabulous wig, in this immediate phase I am more prone to wearing scarves - primarily because of the Texas heat, but also, because I think they are kind of cute. But, I am also acutely aware that it calls attention and stares from strangers to the fact that I am, well, I'm not really sure (am I sick?) and therefore susceptible to personal insecurities, fear of judgement and labels from others.
I find myself in this unknown territory of having to let go of the perceptions of myself that I was so sure defined who I am. I realize that without the personal judgements and labels (the career driven entrepreneur, the loyal friend, the avid yoga student), is a very simple and pure space of ourselves that is unknown. It is uncomfortable and at times very scary and can often feel like weakness. And for me, weakness has simply never been an option. I've always known myself as a strong person, inside and out. And in many ways I realize I still am. But this experience has humbled me and I find myself discovering that strength is a powerful force, completely outside our control. It isn't necessarily about powering through but rather surrendering and relying on and connecting with others, particularly in those times we can't do it for ourselves. It is a time to let our true essence shine bright.
There is a hebrew term - henayne - it means "HERE I AM." This is perhaps the one word I retained from my hebrew school education, but a powerful one. That is what I feel like true strength is. Showing up regardless of how we see ourselves and letting ourselves simply be seen, often times in our most stripped down and vulnerable moments.
And so, probably 30 years later, I have my comeback when people are looking at me. I see it not as judgement or fear which were based on my own insecurities anyways, but a gift to show up and say HENAYNE!