A couple of years ago, I began participating in Lip Service, a literary event here in Miami, similar to NPR’s The Moth, where storytellers share true personal stories in front of a 600-person audience.
I’ve done several shows and have exposed some very revealing, very tender parts of my life and my inner world. And it scares me silly every time I do it.
Why? you might wonder. Why stand in front all those strangers in a dark theater, with a video camera rolling, revealing your secrets?
When I began, I had absolutely no idea why. The moment I heard about Lip Service though, a strong pull came over me and I thought, “I want to do that. No, I have to do that.” I knew I had to, even though I’d never done anything like it. I’d done lots of public speaking before, but it was professional and carefully curated. Safe.
This would be different. Risky. Messy. Scary. But despite my reservations, I listened to that inner voice and now I know why my intuition was so spot-on.
Telling the whole truth about yourself is the most liberating thing you can ever possibly do.
When I explore my personal struggles, large and small, the places I’ve been hurt, confused, or upset, I can dig down to the radical truth about myself and the situation.
I find my mistakes, my bruised feelings, my anxieties, to be sure, but as I keep exploring, I also find the places I was not seeing reality clearly. My vision unclouds and the truth shines through.
I look at my childhood with new eyes and see where I carried the pain and chaos from it into adulthood. And how I don’t need to do that any more.
I find solutions to problems I thought were unsolvable. Sometimes the solution is simply to get it off my chest and out into the world.
I see the humor and the everydayness of things I thought were Oh-So-Huge and Dramatic and Terrible.
I find forgiveness for those who wronged me and see where I needlessly harbored resentment.
By admitting my vulnerability, I understand myself better. I find my true voice, my authenticity. I don’t have to pretend or hide with anyone, even myself.
Ultimately, it’s deeply compassionate work.
Sharing those urgent places with an audience makes it even more powerfully transformational. It leaves me feeling courageous and proud of myself.
Audience members tell me how they understand how I felt and that they relate to what I did. They say that my story helps them understand their own stories.
There’s a lot of healing in knowing we’re not alone, that we’re not the only one who feels afraid, guilty, or foolish. We’re all in this together.
Even when something frivolous gets under my skin, if I explore why I’m obsessing about it, something deeper and universal is invariably revealed.
Last May, I went onstage for Lip Service and told a lighter story about me, myself and my hair. As I learned, even a light story, when looked at truthfully, can have depth and meaning to it.
So here it is. I hope you enjoy it.