It was an intensely felt year.
Exposure was my theme in 2012. While I did manage to keep my clothes on (you’re welcome), I did expose a great deal of myself this year in public.
I published a book about speaking up and going your own way, and in it I outed myself as a feminist, a bastard, a divorcee, and an atheist from a religious household. I revealed my fears of suffocating in my former life and my fears of losing the freedom in my current life. I confessed some of my mistakes, my overwhelming need to be liked, and my discomfort with conflict. Then I boldly told readers how to learn from my mistakes.
To top it off, I wrote it in a stripping metaphor, slowly peeling back the layers to reveal the genuine person underneath. Of course, you had to read the book to figure that out, and if you didn’t you might just think it was a book about stripping. How embarrassing.
After the gut-wrenching decision to publish – an iffy decision up until the moment of launch – I immediately shaved my head. I blamed it on the beer at lunch and Warren’s encouragement, but part of me just wanted to distract you from the contents or me from your reaction to them.
Look, I’m bald! Don’t read the book! (Please buy the book!)”
I was an exaggeration of everything I railed against in the book. Physician, heal thyself. (Which also proves my friend Leslie‘s contention that we teach to instruct ourselves.) I felt extremely exposed, more so than I have ever been in my life.
Exposure in a Relationship
The year carried on with other soft underbelly moments, like the grand overland journey across Asia and Europe where our relationship was tested sometimes to the extreme (thankfully there were only goats in the Gobi desert to hear the worst of the yelling).
The stress and difficulty of the journey forced me to reveal far more of myself to Warren than I ever had, and I feared the loss of his respect and admiration if he realized I wasn’t as tough/smart/adventurous as he thought.
Throughout it all, he’s still deeply committed to me, and that’s still hard to believe sometimes.
“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.” ~ Brene Brown
Exposure at Work
In our Married with Luggage business, I had to learn a certain amount of humility where feedback is concerned. As business partners, we often have to override the married part of our relationship to be brutally honest with each other. While it has grown our business substantially in 2012, it has also poked at the boundaries of our personal relationship.
No one is more proud – or critical – of my writing than Warren, and while I hate receiving it I know it makes the end product better. In fact, you could say that half my writing voice is due to Warren’s editing. I have grudgingly allowed him in, but I still fight him at every turn. I don’t like needing this help, despite the fact that all professional writers use editors. (Logic doesn’t apply when dealing with exposure, fear and shame.)
Exposure + Action = Confidence
To sum up 2012, when I wasn’t feeling like a confident badass, traveling the world with the man I love and doing the work I was meant to do, I was quivering in my boots.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, this is the time of year everyone starts taking about resolutions, and I’m a firm believer you cannot look forward until you have processed what’s behind you. By looking the year and drawing the lessons – even coming up with a word for 2012 like I did – you can better anticipate the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.
I didn’t publicly cower in the corner this year – in fact it was a pretty stellar year overall – but I did feel like it on multiple occasions and I hate admitting it (even more so than actually doing it, which is telling in and of itself). But when you uncover frailties in yourself, especially those intimately linked to your biggest strengths, you can better plot your next move.
Exposure is a package deal with my confidence, and whatever I decide to do in 2013 has to account for this if I want to be successful.
(We talked about evaluating the past year on video in last week’s newsletter – you are getting it, right? – and this week we’ll cover how those lessons can inform your plans for the new year. Warren’s lessons are all around control and comfort with the unknown, so you’ll get an earful of juicy insights from both of us. Sign up here.)
This has been an incredible year of growth for me personally and for us as a team, and while I know 2013 will bring challenges, I’m more practiced and comfortable with the exposure required to live the life of my dreams. I’m gearing up for the opportunities in spite of my discomfort.
It isn’t easy, but if it was, everybody would be doing it.
Thank you for virtually traveling with us in 2012, opening your homes to us on our travels, reading our books, sending us emails, and connecting with us on Facebook. It’s probably easier to expose yourself to strangers, but I much prefer the more intimate reveal to friends we know and love and those friends we just haven’t met yet.
People just like you.
Here’s to deepening our connection with ourselves and with each other in 2013. Happy New Year!
The book that started my Great Exposure of 2012 is Strip Off Your Fear: Slip Into Something More Confident (buy it! don’t buy it!). I’ll be revealing more about this little gem in the new year and the lessons we’ve learned from publishing it.