A while back, after reading my piece about seeking the spotlight my best friend commented (or was that a question) about exposing myself so much and becoming weaker. He said something about hoping I would remain strong even though I was exposing my vulnerable soft bits.
What’s interesting about this is that exposing my soft bits is, I believe, making me stronger not weaker. The week after publishing that essay I did something I had never done before: I told two separate people that I could do the work they wanted me to do but I would have to bill them for it. One of them agreed, the other declined and his problem ceased to be mine. Neither project was very big, and I could simply have decided to just get them done without asking for anything. That’s what I would normally do. Because part of me is always too chickenshit to ask for what my work is worth, and being reasonably comfortable financially means I don't always need to ask for payment. Doing work for free was, paradoxically, the lazy way out.
Not anymore. My work has value and I should be properly compensated for it. I feel good doing that. And if potential clients refuse to pay, or think I'm asking too much, then maybe they're not clients so much as moochers. And who needs that.
I’ve been writing a lot all summer. Much of it is deeply personal, because I think this stuff needs to come out before I can start writing about something else. I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking - about who I am, and what I am worth as a writer and as a person. I am more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been in my life. In a weird way I feel like I’m finally starting to grow up, but in a profoundly proper way. As in: growing into the person I was always meant to be. And enjoying being who I am.
Including physically. I went to the beach with my kids once this summer, wearing a two piece bathing suit. Loose belly skin and all. I had never worn that in public - not in at least 20 years. And I felt beautiful doing it. Sure my body isn’t what it used to be. Not as tight or firm everywhere. But it’s a lot stronger than it’s ever been thanks to all the training I do. What I’ve lost in youthful elasticity I’ve more than gained in poise and muscle tone. My body has also given life to three gorgeous girls. I'm proud of what it can do.
Far from making me weaker, all that sharing and exposing myself and letting myself be seen for who I really am (ugly gut, warts and all) is making me stronger than I’ve ever been.