#pamelasperiproject week 1 reflections: the importance of being seen

Pamela Hsieh birthday 2012

My birthday (2012) — the one day a year I felt safe to be seen.

I didn’t think I’d be guilty of this.

I used to be a cheerleader on my school’s spirit squad — which meant that at halftimes and at pep rallies, the crowd had their undivided attention on my team and me. I’ve performed onstage in many capacities, from dance to piano to flute to musical theatre. As a high school senior I found solace in drama club, and I was nominated by the members of my public speaking class to represent them in front of the village.

It might be a natural conclusion to make that I have no problem with standing center stage — all eyes on me.

Before my stroke, perhaps that would have been the case. But once I felt myself turning inward as a protective response from the attack on my brain that was the stroke, I found a safety there that I still to this day return to when I need a little grounding.

The unconscious decision to amble through my young adulthood more internally than I ever had before hasn’t provided only safety and grounding, though. It has come with a price, and that price is pretty steep.

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It’s cultivated a newfound fear of being seen. What does that look like?

It’s when I find myself in a crowd and choose not to speak up for a need I may have. A need for the people standing in front of me to move so that they no longer block my view. It’s never asking someone not to smoke while we’re outside together, internalizing my discomfort at the smell and effect to my health. How I’ll find a seat in the back of a classroom or training audience even when I voluntarily chose to be there to learn. Trying to blend in and not be noticed — not speaking up in classes or Facebook groups or against emotionally manipulative people. Or even not mentioning past accomplishments or experiences — when they would contribute to the flow of conversation — for fear of bragging or out of glorification of being low-key.

It’s any time I mute myself or when I subconsciously believe the authentic me might be “too much,” and I trade that natural me for a diluted, quiet version of myself I don’t recognize as me.

And this fear of being seen absolutely manifested when I did my first “real” Periscope broadcast on Monday afternoon (i.e., me speaking directly to the camera). My heart was racing; I felt the flood of overwhelm as I saw the anonymous viewer count go up — and go down — as though any of that actually mattered.

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This first scope was flawed — it probably took me the first three whole minutes to get my phone set up on the tripod and you could feel my nerves running through my body — but at least I did it.

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I’d rather imperfectly and unapologetically express myself than continue to play small in my little corner of the Universe. It’s the only way humanity can flourish, if the voices for good and for personal power gain strength rather than getting shut down. Shut down not only by “the other side,” but by themselves and their own fears! Which is what playing small is all about.

It’s what the other side counts on — that our Higher Selves become silenced without intervention. It’s their most insidious secret weapon against us.

I’d had this mounting frustration, this nagging theme running through my life — a voice saying, “Why doesn’t anybody know how awesome I am? Or what gifts I have to give to the world?”

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This whiny voice of the martyr could have defined me, but my Higher Self wouldn’t have any of it. The reason why no one knew was because I had cowered in the corner, played the People Pleaser, worshipped humility at the expense of my authentic self.

I believe we all are entitled to generous self-expression, and this fear of being seen can kill so many good fricking ideas. It can numb people from their dreams.

Quieting down our passions helps no one. I, for one, know firmly that I want the world to be better because I lived in it.

That isn’t possible if I don’t up the game. So terrifying myself by forcing myself to be seen — to create, to put myself out there — in order to make myself stronger not only serves me,  but gives you permission to do so as well.

Periscope heartsYou can follow #PamelasPeriProject on Periscope, live, and you can catch my replays on Katch.me. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter; I’m @ciaoPamela.

Did this resonate with you? How do you struggle with being seen? Leave a comment and let’s explore this some more.

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10 responses to “#pamelasperiproject week 1 reflections: the importance of being seen

  1. You are an excellent writer first of all. Second, you just described me in the first part of your post to a T. When I was growing up I never wanted any attention drawn to me and I would opt to take a zero because it meant I didn’t have to speak in front of the class. Sometimes I still find myself retreating inside but I force myself to be outgoing.

    • Hi Suzie! Thank you so much for engaging! :) (I’ve personally found that this is one way I’d keep to myself and hinder my self-expression, so I really acknowledge you for speaking out.) And thank you for your compliment.

      For me, speaking up more isn’t necessarily about my being more outgoing. It’s more like me returning to home base; I never found myself scared to express myself in the world growing up (and I’m sure I pissed some people off in the process), and it has been a more recent development as I work on building my message and what I’d like to stand for in this world.

      Personal development is one of my biggest passions ever, and in my journey I’ve met a lot of people I adore who are really different from me (yet still fundamentally the same, in that they are consciously having a human experience). I do believe that even someone who is naturally more introverted or quiet can still create a way to move through the world and get their needs met in a gracefully powerful way.

      I just don’t want all of us to follow the herd and always prioritize what we think are everyone else’s expectations over our own fulfillment. It is in our own self-care and by not apologizing for our force in the world that we can best show up and serve those who need us! :) <3

  2. Pamela thanks for sharing your story. What I have come to learn is that many of us have a public facade that hides something. In other words, everyone has a story. I think sharing yours, sharing your vulnerability, endears you to people and gives them courage to reveal their story. Thank you for making it easier to do so.

    • Hi Audrey!

      Yessssssss. TRUTH! I am 100000% convinced that vulnerability is power, so thank you for acknowledging that!

      I find tremendous healing in sharing and revealing . . . this is something I’ve been cultivating in huge ways thanks to my mentor Kristin Sweeting Morelli and her tribe of gorgeously conscious women. 😎

  3. Goldie Matthew

    What I love is that despite your fears, you challenged yourself to do bold things that are BEYOND what others who have no fears would challenge themselves to do! Which is proof that you do have beautiful gifts to give the world and true courage to put them out there. Good for you girl. You have my utmost admiration.

    • Goldie, I love you. :) Thank you for your support and admiration! You have always been a shining example for me to step up and raise my standard. <3

  4. Wow! This is such an inspiring blog! I find myself relating to that quiet-myself-in-the-corner person, longing to spring forth and be seen for the awesome woman I am. Thank you for writing this. I recently took steps to get myself out of that corner. I am preparing a speech that needs to include my “why” for joining an organization. I plan to reference this blog, if you don’t mind. It speaks directly to my purpose. Thank you. Thank you! A million times – thank you!

    • Hi Beth! You’re very welcome. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your own reflections on the topic. I absolutely do not mind your sharing my blog to others! (I would never put something out on the Internet I didn’t want people to see. ;)) I feel it’s my purpose to channel the gifts from my experiences through my voice to help those who need that voice. Please let me know how your journey unfolds. This is a powerful time, and the world needs you!

  5. Wow! I’m so touched by your vulnerability and willingness to put yourself out there. I’m a new fan :-) Thanks for your this post. I have similar feelings about scoping, however, I’m addicted. So, I’m determined to overcome the fears.
    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    • Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m really delighted by the response (here on the blog as well as on Facebook!) to this post. There’s so much more to explore and I’m glad this is touching a lot of people. I hope to see you on a future Scope! :)

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