The Power Of Actually Answering A Good Question.

“How Do You Want To Show Up In The World?”

This is a question I am supposed to be working on in…um…my…uh….book club! Yeah! My book club! (My friends in any of my book clubs are thinking What? We are?) Totally not something I’ve talked about with any mental health professional! No way! ‘Cause I’m totally not someone who would talk about therapy every day! Nope!

Anyway…

It’s a good question. But there are a lot of good questions out there. (I’m also working on these questions posed by Leah Peterson.) We hear these type of good questions and we think about them for a few minutes and maybe our scope is expanded for a moment as we ponder them, but then the dryer dings, or our boss comes in, or our kid swears he’s starving and then we kinda move on with our lives. Maybe we answer them in a vague sense in our heads for a moment, but we don’t really answer them like all good questions deserve to be answered.

So. My…book club insisted that this question be answered in a practical sense. So I kept a page in my bullet journal accessible where I scratched out ideas for a few days, and then yesterday I tried to clean it up a bit so that I could really hash it out in my favorite way this morning:

ON MY BLAAWWWWWWGGGGGG.

The first thing I kept coming back to, is that I want to be a good listener. This sounds a little more charitable than I truly intend. The truth of the matter is that I just really like really rich conversations and I love learning from other people. I love laughing at other people’s self-deprecating stories. I love expanding my view from other people’s histories. I love connecting with vulnerabilities. I just love good conversation, but mostly I love being on the listening end of good conversation because I’m much better at talking when I’m behind a keyboard. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being at all charitable…I don’t like listening for how it helps the person I listen to, I like listening for how it helps me.

But then I thought about times I’ve not really liked conversations I’ve been in, where they’ve sucked me dry instead of built me up. So I started thinking more about how I want to attract positive energy in the world. I want to put out the kind of energy in the world that pulls in the kind of people who want to build each other up, instead of tear each other down. I want to attract people willing to be vulnerable with me, willing to recognize our own privilege and our own need to put into the world what we want to get out of it.

So, how do I attract that kind of person?

I become that kind of person. And I really think I’m there more and more every day. Mainly because I am building a personal tribe of truly beautiful people. And you can attract a beautiful spirit by accident, but I’ve got an arsenal of them in my life and I feel like – in that quantity – I must be doing something right.

I don’t think it’s about being Happy! Happy! Happy! all the time. But I think it’s about being sincere and…god I hate this word because it’s become so overused but…AUTHENTIC. I want to be authentic. I don’t necessarily want to try to be the person who I think the world can love, I want to love who I am so the person I present to the world can also be loved. Does that make sense?

(SIDENOTE: My dishwasher is broken so it’s BREAK THE SOUND BARRIER LOUD. When it’s running I have to put in headphones with music so I don’t hear it. So, I’m trying to write this really profound and introspective entry with music blaring in my ears to drown out the dishwasher. I’m not sure this is really conducive to logical thought flows.)

When I think about building a community of good people, my instinct is to think I accomplish this by being the court jester or Mary Poppins. The kind of happy and joyful person who sings songs even when she has to take medicine or makes jokes that makes everyone laugh. But that’s not true. I think to really attract the kind of people I truly want in my life – people willing to have tough and honest conversations about how to make this world a better place – I need to be authentic. I need to be vulnerable in my faults. I need to be able to laugh and to smile, but I also need to be willing to admit my errors and discuss my wounds because it’s when we’re vulnerable with each other that we make real connections. The court jester who performs only keeps the crowd while she’s performing. I want to keep the crowd indefinitely. I can’t change the world by myself, but if I build a tribe of like-hearted people maybe we can change the world together?

I want to celebrate complexities. I know that sounds profound, but it’s really not. I spent years trying to fit into some group…Was I grunge? Did I hang with the punks? The hippies? The goths? Was I trading Grateful Dead bootlegs? Was I obsessed with owning all of the Doc Martens? Was I outdoorsy and did I know all of recent Widespread Panic setlists by heart? I spent years trying to build a facade of who I thought people liked. But over the last decade (or two) I’ve been settling in to the realization that sometimes I want to hippy-dance around the house listening to Scarlet Begonias and other times I want to jam to Katy Perry. Sometimes I want to read books that open my mind to other cultures and histories, and other times I want to read about vampires. Sometimes I watch documentaries about modern slavery (which you should all watch) and other times I watch non-stop superhero television (which you should also watch). I don’t want to classify people as in single categories and not allow for nuance. This goes for me and for everyone I meet. Just because I know you’re a Christian or a Trump supporter doesn’t mean I can’t find something to learn from you. We are all complex. I don’t believe in God, but I believe in prayer. Complexities are to be celebrated, not discouraged.

There are two other words on my notes page I’ve been trying to hash out into more complex ideas: Art. Bravery. I’m not sure what I want to do with those words and how I want to expound on them in how I show up in the world. But I know they’re both important.

I’m scared of a lot of things. As I grow older I choose which fears might be worth tackling. After Dad died I decided my fear of people and of leaving my house needed to be tackled. Last night I had dinner with 10+ amazing women and I felt at home and comfortable in the presence of these women at an event I more-or-less organized myself. It was a discreet event where I was trying to create a safe place for liberal women to talk and vent, hard to “promote” if you don’t want to alienate people. But my efforts worked and I had amazing energy-filled conversations with strong like-minded women and I thought to myself, That was very brave of you, Kim.

I don’t want to conquer my fears of driving or travel or anything yet, but I want to push myself outside of my safety boundaries in ways that I think may help expand my world view without sending me into a catatonic state of panic. So, I guess I want to be brave,…but MY kind of brave. Not the “bungee jumps” kind of brave. Not the, “travels to Europe alone” kind of brave. Not the, “makes left hand turns” kind of brave. But maybe the, “Needs a meal with inspirational women so plans it herself” kind of brave.

And now: ART. I like to look at writing as art. But I also like to look at my bullet journaling as art. And my doodling. I look at ART as anything I create as a way to express something I’m feeling. My friend Leah also posted this: “‘I can’t talk about it. I need to art about it.’ -Me, not making sense but making total sense.” And that’s when I wrote the word “ART” down in my notebook. YES. I have to art about it. Sometimes that means staring at this compose screen on my blog and hashing out my thoughts with my words. But other times it means zendoodling and just meditating on something while I color simple shapes. Other times I’m feeling anxious and overwhelmed so I draw out my weeks in my bullet journal to sort out the chaos. I want to write. I want to continue to put my words into the ether as a way of keeping my mind right. But also…I want to art. Right now that seems to be meditative doodling, but I’m also not against other forms of art down the road. I just know there are many times I have things inside of me that feel like they’re fighting their way out, and writing mostly helps, but I’m open to other means of release as well.

There’s no simple answer to a question as complex as: How do I want to show up in the world? I’ve proved that with my 1600+ words here. But man, it’s a good question to actually sit down and try to answer. I think there’s one last thing that I’ve been a little hesitant to write because it sounds a bit narcissistic and I feel like it needs a LOT of explanation but: I want to inspire. This sounds lofty and maybe pompous and definitely pretentious and presumptuous. But it has two parts: 1) I have been inspired by friends and family and I would love to return the favor but also 2) I have taken journeys in self-exploration and self-development that have bettered my life in so many ways and I want other people to see that and be inspired to take their own. It’s not as much as I want people to say, “Kim inspires me!” I want people to say, “Kim’s journey inspires me to take my own!”

Eek. That still sounds super pretentious and self-righteous. Maybe I’ll hash that one out a little more.

And what about you? How do you want to show up in the world? My *ahem* book club *ahem* totally wants to know.

5 thoughts on “The Power Of Actually Answering A Good Question.”

  1. I don’t have the time to TRULY answer this question right now. Instead I’m going to completely avoid it and just tell you that the other day I was telling my husband about your running journey and what all you’re up to these days and how you got here, and your attitude about it, and I told him it was inspirational to me. I really need a no runner left behind kind of gig, and buddy motivation, but when I have doubts I think (in a good way!) if Kim can do it, maybe I can too. So, I know you weren’t asking for that kind of validation on you/your journey being an inspiration, but you totally are.

  2. Gee Kim, as I was reading your list of what you want to do, I was thinking about how you’re already doing a lot of it, especially the “being authentic” part. If you’ve read any of Brené Brown’s stuff (in print or online), you’ll see that much of her research talks about the necessity of authenticity. And the way you are sharing your journey of self-discovery IS inspiring. I don’t know many people willing to be as honest and forthcoming about the struggles and fears in their lives as you. It is encouraging and hope-giving to those of us with our own fears.

    I appreciate you inviting us on this ride with you. Who knows, one day, it may even involve a left turn. ;D

  3. Hey Kim! I haven’t been reading for as long as you’ve been writing, so I apologize if this has been talked about on here before. I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried the Myers-Briggs Personality Type testing? I’ve loved reading your work ever since I’ve found it, and I know that once I discovered this method of personality typing it really helped me to find my type and understand that a) I’m not the only one processing things in this way and b) there’s a set of characteristics and things out there that does match who I am.

    It’s a bit off topic but that greater understanding of self has really helped me better define who I am and how I want to present myself in this world.

    I want to contribute positively to my communities (personal, work, hobby/activity, etc). I want to get a positive return on what I invest my time into (ie, feeling good after donating time or energy) more often than not. I want to create a life where I’m able to invest in myself with the things I enjoy (books, writing, tea, travel, and relationships with the people I love). I feel like I’m on the right path. And I know that these definitions will continue to refine themselves as I go!

    I’d like to echo Karen’s thoughts as well: you’re already doing an amazing thing by sharing your journey here, Kim. Please keep going, I’d love to stay along for the ride 🙂

  4. This reminds me a lot of a tool I use, which is Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map (http://www.daniellelaporte.com/thedesiremap/). The basis is the idea of five Core Desired Feelings (or CDFs) that become your guiding principles for decision making and life living. Mine are At Ease, Intentional, Useful, Connected, and Rested. The book is now is paperback and probably even available at your library. She provides a lot of great resources and stuff too. The result is a little more concise than your great list above, but it’s easy to remember and keep coming back to. I write them on my calendar every week and try to do regular check ins on how I’m doing.

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