I cup it in my hands and honor it, on my own terms.
But when we meet, I tuck it in my back pocket until I know if it is safe to pull it out again.
We all have them, these bits of our identity that just feel to vulnerable to share online or when we first meet someone.
We tuck them in our pockets, made invisible.
I found I got used to having parts of myself tucked away, more okay with being comfortable and safe than vulnerable.
At times I would pull these parts of my life or identity out and risk by sharing. One of these invisible bits for me is my sexuality, which doesn’t fit in a box or comfortably into the words you might know (gay, straight, bi).
I’d pull it out and share that part of me with you, that doesn’t come out much.
“I don’t really blog about this much,” I said.
“Oh, why would you.” She said back.
The vulnerable, malleable parts of me ran for the hills, clamoring back into the darkness again.
Why would I? Why would I not? Somehow there are things that are more acceptable to share and others that some would question why you would.
There is no right or wrong way to be our selves, to be authentic. Being authentic doesn’t mean we have to fit into a box. I forget this sometimes.
Our politics, our worldviews, our love, our loses, our daily struggles, our divorces, our heartbreak or grief, our uniqueness or our love. We question if it will be held safely or if we will feel even more alone.
There should not be shame in making conscious decisions to keep parts of our lives private, but on the other hand, sometimes shame lurks in those dark places where we tuck away our invisible aspects. Though we didn’t intend it, it picks up bits of shame along the way.
So today I’m taking it out of my back pocket. Telling you that I am a collection of confidences and vulnerabilities, complications and simple things. Just like you. I pull these bits out, hands shaking.
I cup it in my hands and reach it towards you and entrust that you will hold it safely.
Because, you see, when we hide parts of ourselves away and don’t risk being seen, we miss the chance to have people show up for us.
To say “I see you girl.”
Or “I understand.”
Or “Me too.”
Or “I want to hear you and learn more about what you are sharing, even if I don’t understand.”
So I hold it out to you today.
And ask what parts you keep invisible or hidden.
Let me hold space for you too.
Vivienne McMaster is a photographer and workshop leader.
She loves inviting people to explore their creative side and discover the wondrous world of photography.
She truly believes that you don’t need a fancy camera and all sorts of technical knowledge to call yourself a photographer and loves cheering people on as they explore this.
She teaches a variety of classes both in person and online, helping artful souls dive into their own creative journey through photography. You can find Vivienne sharing photo adventures and other musings at her brand new website.