I was fortunate to hear an amazing keynote speaker this weekend, named George Barcenas. His keynote was empowering and pushed my colleagues and I to think and reflect on ourselves and our practices. A moment that will stay with me was when he had the entire stadium repeat, “YOU ARE THE BEARDED WOMAN!” To put this in context, at the beginning of the keynote address, he played this video of Keala Settle singing “This Is Me” during her audition for the movie “The Greatest Showman”. If you haven’t seen it, pause here and give it a watch — but don’t forget to come back! I had never seen the video before, but it has been bringing me to tears each time I watch.
Keala’s strength as she sings as if no one is watching, all the while helping others shine and sing like everyone is watching is one of the most emotionally-charged, unplanned scenes, that I have seen recently. George told everyone that growing up when he felt lost or uncertain of his abilities, he used to recite a line that triggered him to remember to believe in himself. At the end of his keynote address, he urged us, in times of self-doubt, to repeat, “I am the Bearded Woman!” to trigger connections to the song and reminders that we are stronger than we ever give ourselves credit for.
This article will highlight the three lyrics that stood out to me and pushed me to look within and self reflect. Do any of these situations resonate with you? How did you feel after you watch Keala Settle singing “This Is Me”? Leave your comments and/or connections below.
“ I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars”
When we have lived through trauma, there are always choices regarding how you respond and move forward. My default, whether I say it aloud or not, is to be ashamed of my scars, keep them bottled up and pretend that everything is normal and to keep angst inside.
I literally have eighteen inch scar that got when I was a young teen. It has taken me nearly twenty years took to start showing and chatting freely about this scar that is so much of a part of me. Looking back this seems sort of absurd, when I think about how much time and energy I have put into covering up something that is so obviously a part of me. To put it in perspective, when I talk about hiding the scar, I mean clothing and hair choices to cover it, actively keeping my closest friends from seeing it, trying to hide it from intimate partners — everyone!
Now that I freely show my scar (in most contexts), it amazes me that people focus on the strength that comes from overcoming childhood hurdles, rather than the narrative I used to assume which included people seeing it as gross — or in the absolute extreme as unlovable. When reflecting, it is crazy the pressure that I used to put on myself to cover something that was a part of me and that elicited so much curiosity. It was like no matter how many times people found out about my scar and/or saw my scar I was waiting for those 1/100 adverse reactions.
“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down. I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.”
My thoughts are actually the sharpest and most judgemental words that I ever hear. I know that people can be hard-wired to be harder on themselves than others, but when I get into a funk, I feel like I can do no right. I have the ability to be the most critical, unsupportive person towards MYSELF, meanwhile I would do anything for my friends and family. It can be a strange place to be in to realize that you are able to completely inconvenience yourself for others, yet, you are unable to take time out to support your own well-being! This is why I am here to share my story and connect with others who are in a similar boat.
The line in the song about sending a flood and drowning out the sharpest words speaks to me. During this journey, I am actively going to be working on positive self-talk. It is something that I practice and preach in my career, however, when it comes to focusing on my personal self, I am rather hypocritical. It is difficult for me to give myself the benefit of the doubt or a boost when I need it. This is a slippery slope to be in because I worry that it can lead to looking for extrinsic affirmations, rather than intrinsic beliefs and motivation.
“I make no apologies, this is me…’cause there’s nothing I’m not worthy of. Look out ’cause here I come”
In acknowledging my struggles with anxiety over the past couple years, one theme that comes up is the notion of apologizing. I think about all the times that I assume that I need to offer an apology during a time of anxious or overwhelmed feelings. The apologies may come in the form of self-doubt or over-thinking, or in verbally apologizing to others to ease an uncomfortable situation. By defaulting to an apology, I have created an unfair dichotomy for myself, when I choose not to apologize, I obsess over my choice to ensure it was the “right” choice and I am not being self-absorbed, or, I apologize and obsess over how my actions have impacted the situation for the negative. This is not to suggest that apologizing is not important, but it is rather to get back to a safe place where I can say “This is me. Take it or leave it.” in all aspects of my life.
I believe that my anxiety is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder most recently caused by an event that took place in the fall of 2016. Throughout this journey, I intend to “unpack” struggles with reliving the events and fearing they may repeat, responding to triggers and also combating the disinterested state of mind that I enter into when I do not know what to do.
Please comment below and join in on the conversation. Did the video elicit an emotional response from you? Do you suffer from diagnosed or undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder?