Lots of people wished they were understood and seen. Being seen doesn’t have to be automatically tied to recognition but it can.
I see two levels of being seen: being understood by your peers and being recognized for who you are and what you do.
This is particularly true when you build a business or create anything and put yourself out there. It can be tough to be ignored or criticized, even by your friends, when you show up consistently and you see nothing taking off.
But even if you want to be seen, maybe you don't show yourself entirely. And showing who you are has nothing to do with sharing all your "dirty secrets" or behaving like a jerk; it's about being authentic.
In this article, I want to talk about the desire and fear of being seen, and what crucial question you can ask yourself in order to stay true to yourself and loose the fear of being visible; step by step.
Being seen and understood for who you are on a personal level.
The desire to belong often makes people hide who they are. It can make them say things they don’t think and do things they don’t want to do.
And I get it, if you’ve ever tried to be authentic, you might have experienced rejection. It starts at an early age when you show your emotions and your parents reject you for it.
The thing is, even if your parents did their best, you might still have some wounds that you've carried into your adult life. The fact that your emotions weren’t always well-received (or systematically oppressed) shaped you into who you are today. In other words, it might have given you the habit of not showing who you are on the outside.
Of course, a certain adaptation to societal expectation is necessary, but it becomes problematic when it's stopping you from “being yourself” all the time.
Mostly this means saying “yes” when you would prefer to say “no”, not responding to a friend because you’re afraid of a confrontation, or simply putting a mask on, in hope that people will like you more.
The irony of it all is that other people do the same. They hide from others because of the sheer fear of rejection. Which is understandable. Being authentic can be very lonely.
But, on the other side, being inauthentic can be even lonelier.
Being seen and understood for who you are on a professional level.
Here, of course, the rules are even stricter. For some professional branches, it starts with the outfit, making an impression, showing yourself from your most attractive side (nothing wrong with that if you still are yourself on a certain level), and depending on your work environment, never showing weaknesses.
Anyone who’s been to a job interview knows that they are a lot of taboos and things “you are not supposed to say.”
For example, telling the truth when asked: “What are your weaknesses?”.
Now, I don’t know why this question is stilled asked – probably to see how you manage to answer uncomfortable questions or because everybody does it – but the point is, nobody will say the truth.
People are encouraged to say ridiculous things like “handbags” or “chocolate” (and that can even be turned against you), instead of telling the truth. And saying you’re a perfectionist, probably makes most HR-managers roll their eyes at you.
What’s the point on even asking if you don’t want to hear "the" truth?
Of course, I get that from an employer standpoint, it’s vital to hire the right people and to know the truth about them – meaning also about their weaknesses – because you have a responsibility for your business and for protecting your employees as well.
But there are enough working environments out there, where the management do not want to see and do not care about their employees. They just want to spend as little money as possible and squeeze as much profit out of them, and ironically, demand absolute dedication and loyalty in return.
See the problem?
No wonder lots of people are inauthentic to protect themselves.
That said, if you are inauthentic to protect yourself, you’re going to attract more and more people into your life, also on a career level, who will make you feel that it's not okay to be yourself.
Too much of this, and you wake up one day wondering why you're having creative blocks, self-limiting beliefs, anxiety, or even depression.
What does it mean for you as an entrepreneur or a creator?
Being visible and seen as an entrepreneur or creator is essential. If you aren’t, your venture is dead.
The problem you might have as an entrepreneur or a creator is that being visible and authentic also means being potentially criticized, rejected, or even attacked by people you don’t even know and who project their frustrations, fears and insecurities onto you.
Being an entrepreneur or a creator of any kind isn’t for the faint of heart and it can be a huge challenge for sensitive people to withstand the hit and the numerous rejections you’ll get on your way to success.
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So, how can you show yourself as an entrepreneur or creator?
The good news is, being visible and showing yourself with more ease can be learned.
The more you’ll put yourself out there, the easier it’ll get.
Provided you take care of yourself, have a good portion of self-love, surround yourself with the right people, and work consistently on your mindset.
You can start with things that scare you in your personal life.
An example could be, setting boundaries towards someone you’re not used to saying “no” to.
Now, if this person is not used to be said “no” to, you might get a pretty interesting reaction.
Whether she reveals herself as the a*hole you knew she was and get angry at you because she didn’t get what she wanted from you (whether acknowledging her diminishing advice or abusing your goodwill), or she's already an awesome human being and you’ll build an authentic and trustworthy relationship with that person.
In other words, a relationship that is healthy, where you don’t have the feeling to put a mask on, but where the exchange is balanced, benevolent, authentic and appreciated from both sides.
Thankfully, there are also a lot of people that are okay with the boundaries of others and who never intended to make you feel bad in the first place.
The point is, that you sometimes must communicate those uncomfortable feelings. Because if you don’t, you’ll shrink emotionally, and won’t be able to stand up for yourself the next time it will be even more relevant.
The purpose of trying to stand up for yourself taking small steps is to learn to withstand the initial discomfort of showing who you really are, which will have a positive repercussion on all other areas of your life, your business or creative venture included.
How is it so?
Becoming comfortable with standing up for yourself will help you overcoming possible rejections, conflicts, and challenges in your business or creative venture.
Examples, where you need to stand up for yourself, could be:
- Refusing job opportunities from clients or employers you don’t want to work with
- Breaking up business relationships that are giving you a headache and where you get nothing in return
- Firing people who are harming your business
- Firing your agent who’s harming your career as a creator
- Or even, something “less dramatic” like negotiating
Please understand those not as real cases but as examples of where it might be a challenge for you to make people understand what you stand for and being seen for you who you are.
And I can only imagine how uncomfortable or fearful you might feel just reading this, but think of it like this, every time you're about to put the needs of others above your own and at your expense:
What are the financial, emotional, and social consequences going to be for you (and eventually your family) if I you comply?
Now, I get that not everything has to be that dramatic in life but sometimes it is.
And if you’re used to pleasing everyone but yourself, I’ll encourage you to practice getting on your side from time to time.
Showing yourself takes a lot of courage but it's worth all the efforts!
Being comfortable in your skin and not fearing to tell the truth if necessary, isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s going to give you confidence and peace of mind in the long run, which are both vital for your happiness, the happiness of the people you love, and for your success.
And if you’re thinking of taking a step towards working on your mindset to follow through on whatever you’ve set your mind to, I have an amazing upcoming training that deals with all the blocks and fears you might encounter as an entrepreneur or creator. Sign up and get notified when it’s out. Besides, you’ll get weekly mindset and life coaching tips directly into your inbox.