I’ve officially been living in Costa Rica for 2 weeks today and will celebrate my 1 month anniversary of confirmed vagabond status in 2 days.
My first few days were full of inspiration and peace. I drank in the beauty of the nature all around me. I wrote Lesson 1 and Lesson 2 from this series. I saw my first bunch of howler monkeys. I took more photos than I’ve taken in the past 6 years.
I was so excited to share my journey and even more excited to have tropical backgrounds to my coaching sessions and to the videos for the 30 Day Self-Love Challenge. Much better, I thought, than the faded white walls of the dank Toronto basement I recently escaped.
But, then, something strange happened.
Just a few minutes before going on camera with my first client since landing, I got a deep, intense, gnawing sense of guilt.
For the first time, I wondered…
Is it insensitive to show all these palm trees when she’s stuck in snow? Is this unkind?
The question was answered for me by simple lighting dynamics. The light from behind me turned me into a silhouette, so I had to pull back the curtain. I got the same guilt about wearing a tank top to the session—guilt that intensified when she told me how cold it was and even more when she told me that she hated her job.
After I got off camera, the signs intensified and so did the guilt. The Facebook statuses from people back home about -30 Celsius weather. A picture of someone I know on a beach with the hashtag #humblebrag on Facebook.
Am I bragging?
I realized that all of my one-on-one clients, at the moment, are from the northern US and Canada.
Am I making them feel bad?
The next day, I had two more clients. They both, without being prompted in any way, admitted to hating their jobs too. Now, the guilt was 10 feet tall.
How is that even possible? How can that be a coincidence? Am I making people hate their lives?
Used to living with my life on my sleeve, my mindset began to change.
I eyed my digital camera suspiciously before going out. I only bought a camera so that I could share my journey. So many people told me to take photos, but now I wasn’t really sure anyone really wanted to see them. I wasn’t sure that I wanted people to see them.
And filming the Self-Love Challenge? I couldn’t breech that subject with myself without making all of these stories up about how it would make people’s lives worse.
My mind was all mixed up. I thought that sharing my journey would be inspiring and uplifting. Now, I was wondering…
Is my sharing the details of my life making people feel bad about their own? Am I a self-love teacher who makes people feel insecure?
I spoke to Jamie about it, hoping that he would tell me I was being ridiculous, but he didn’t. He said there was definitely validity to what I was saying—that some people would absolutely feel that way.
“But it’s what’s happening to you,” he said. “It’s not like you’re lying. How can you be so open about the negative side of not having self-love, but hide the positive side of having it?”
I remembered, suddenly, Marianne Williamson’s words.
She said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
She said: “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
She was right. I didn’t have to hide.
There’s nothing enlightened about hiding.
And, really, isn’t “bragging” talking about something we have that other people do not? Wouldn’t hiding mean that I was keeping quiet about my “specialness” and that there was, in fact, something special about me? Well, I don’t believe that. I’m not special. It’s nothing about me that’s caused these changes.
I believe that self-love and self-awareness are the reasons for everything good that’s happened to me for the past three years.
I believe that everyone has a core of love within them and, if they access it, they can do absolutely anything they want. I believe that everyone hears their inner call, however quiet it is—just like I heard an inner call to write my book, to move here, to share this very post right now.
We all get these signs and signals from ourselves, these messages that tell us what will bring us fulfillment and change the world. I chose to listen to mine. There’s no bragging about that. There’s nothing special about me that made me chose. We can all choose.
I hope that, in my work, I’m helping to build the kind of world where we all choose that, where we look at what’s humanly possible and know, right away, that it’s within our reach because we’re all connected, we’re all beautiful, we’re all made of the same stuff.
Self-love is faith.
I’m not special. I’m just someone who had some faith, who trusted her heart more than the dozens of voices who told her to play it safe and save for retirement. I’m just someone who followed her dreams instead of the advice of her parents, her teachers, and the conditioning of her culture.
And that’s what I want to show the world. I want to show people what’s possible.
I want to show people how sometimes being “foolish” is almost the same as being “happy”—if only we are foolish enough to trust our intuition over the outdated thought patterns in our minds.
That’s what I want to stand for. And that’s why I’m going to keep sharing.
Of course, when I first realized this, I just spouted something like that whole speech to Jamie while he smiled at me with that look he gets on his face when I go off like this.
I was excited. I couldn’t wait to film, to take pictures, to pull back the curtains during my sessions (when the light dynamics didn’t interfere, of course).
And it’s been a blast.
I’ve filmed 20 of the videos for the Challenge and they’re just beautiful. Looking at them now, I’m touched by how authentic they are. The wind and ocean are too loud in some spots. The camera’s shaky in others. I stumble over words.
It’s so real, and I’m just me—in love with myself, with my work, with my community, with this beautiful country, with the opportunity to love life.
And, now, as I sit and reflect on these experiences, I realize something else—something that is, perhaps, the deepest lesson here. The lesson is: hiding is the opposite of love and happiness. We can’t be happy if we keep ourselves boxed up, only sharing the things we think are acceptable.
The only sane way to live is to bare all—to show the darkness and the light. And, let me tell you, they’re equally hard to share.
We just have to tap into that inner courage that is our birthright, show up, and let ourselves be seen—however we are in that moment. And, like this, we will revolutionize ourselves. Like this, we will change the world.
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Thank you for reading and for walking with me. I’m curious to know—have you ever had guilt over sharing your joy or success, your light? I’d love to hear of how you overcame that and how it made you feel to open up!