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Day 125 - Being Outed in San Francisco

I am in San Francisco for a work related conference. I was invited to do a presentation about our firm with a major wealth management company. I was a little nervous considering who they are and what they do. At the helm of gazillions of dollars and a client list that would be more than impressive, they took the time out of their busy days to meet with me and learn about our firm and what we do. I, there, to learn about them and how they conduct business. Finding a mutual energy and interest in the methodology with which we serve our clients.

So there I am in this beautiful high rise in downtown, ready to talk shop. Legal shop. One person attended the meeting by conference call, when it was his turn to talk, he apologized for not being at the meeting, saying that he was sorry to be pulled away because he was really looking forward to meeting me. I was flattered and honored just to be there.

Then he said this:

“Hey, are you the Erin with the blog?”

I almost spit out my coffee.

How did he know about the blog?

Um, it is like three clicks away from everything I do, so it wasn’t hard.

Of course they did their due diligence before meeting with me! Not only about my firm but also about my person. Who wouldn’t? It takes little time to gain large amounts of information these days.

I am not sure what was said immediately following that because my mind went into overload, trying to recall all of the randomness that was posted for all to see. Did he read it all, just a couple, which ones? Was he just being nice? Was this a way to tell me that I should not be so public in my ramblings? I am good on my feet, most of the time, so I recovered and forced all the insecure and fearful thoughts to the background and dove into being present for this most interesting meeting.

It was a great meeting from my perspective. I love an opportunity to make a connection. Making that connection with like minded people who have an exceptionally high standards and driving work ethic, a double bonus.

The meeting ended and off we all went in our individual directions. My head, who had very patiently held the panic at bay, now demanded my full attention!

Fear overwhelmed me. I thought the following thoughts all at once:

Your career is over.

You are an idiot for putting all of this out there.

What were you thinking?

Go to the hotel room now and take the blog down.

Apologize for it in an email.

Wait, don’t take it down but stop oversharing.

Get a nom de plume so you can be more anonymous.

What do they think about me?

I was reeling. My little delusional bubble that I am still anonymous in my writing, decidedly popped.

As I walked down the rush hour streets of San Francisco, I realized how small I was in the grand scheme of things. Walking down the street, a stranger in a strange city. Scores of other humans walking past me that I would never know, never meet and never see again. I was anonymous.

It was this fact that caused me to reach out and start this blog to begin with. A method for allowing my voice to be heard not because I think that I have something earth shattering to say but because I was terrified to say anything at all. My life long habit of being a chameleon finally exhausting me, leaving me feeling void of meaning and connection. Now I am sure there were other ways to open up my heart that were not so drastic and possibly life threatening. But those were not my path. I had to do this. I needed to do this. I dared to do this.

It isn’t about fame or notoriety. It was about owning who I am, not just the dressed up version of myself, packaged and sold in wrapping pleasing to those about me.

I felt like I was in a critical place as I meandered my way back to the safety of my hotel room. A very large part of me, feeling exposed, raw and vulnerable. Wanting to run in my stilettos back to the room and un-publish the blog. Realizing that this was a familiar feeling to me. I have wanted to run my whole life. In fact, have run my whole life. Until a year ago when I started pouring out my heart and soul here. Then, somehow, I got the courage to stand still. Allow the carefully constructed walls, facades and aliases to fall away, slowly. To stand bare on an emotional level to the nakedness of my inner workings, being willing to finally share that with others.

I didn’t get very far before I realized that it didn’t matter what those people thought. I couldn’t and wouldn’t hide again behind the more socially acceptable version of myself. While I am very sure that when called to question about some of my posts, I might be very embarrassed by what I might have to answer to and to whom. But, it is who I am. I wrote that. I lived that. I survived that. I persevered thorough that. It is me. If you don’t like it, it can’t and won’t change anything that has come before. I am still the person that did those things, said those things and shared those things.

By the time I got back to the hotel, I felt buoyant rather than defeated. I felt empowered by my vulnerability. Recognizing that it was easy to arrive at such a conclusion because, today, I received praise for my writing. How much harder it would have been if it wasn’t just self doubt and fear that plagued me? How would I have handled it if they would have told me my writing was stupid? poor? illogical? offensive? Much harder to take. But as I thought of all the ways, in this very digital world, that I could be shamed, hurt and bludgeoned by social media, I returned to that place where I was when I began all this nonsense...none of that pain could compare to the pain I felt about myself, sleep walking through my life, being silent, holding my tongue, pretending.

While the temptation to fade back was great, the fire that I ignited when I posted my first post, not so easily extinguished. My commitment to my path, honorable to me. I am not perfect, far, far from it. Instead what I am trying to do is to be ok with that. To be honest about all the ways that I fuck it up. All the mistakes that I make. How I feel about my life. And I have to share that with you in order to make it real. Keeping it all to myself, I lack a fact checker. I lack integrity, so easy to lie to oneself. You provide me a sounding board. A backstop to the self deceit that seems to be so pervasive today.

So I guess I am out there now. Out there on the interwebs for anyone who cares to, to take a look. It feels scary, intimidating and real. It feels like I am walking a tight rope between security and risk, the fall deadly to be sure. But underneath the fear, self doubt, lies a feeling of vitality. I feel alive because of the risk. The risk being paramount to the energy of life. Wanting and needing to dig ever deeper to find the strength and courage to be me. I am not sure why that is so hard. I just know that it is. There are many who would say forgo the tightrope all together, walk the earth and not the sky. To them, I say, I can't. Sometimes, often in fact, I really wish I could. But my path resides on that sky affixed rope, my only work to have the courage to own it as my own.

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