That time I grew a mustache...
I know really "nothing in life is free" but even still, I like to think it can be in some way.
I am often hesitant to buy a book or watch a movie unless I know without a doubt it is going to be good, I already love the author/actors, or have heard amazing things about them. But if they are free...that's a whole other thing.
I used to go to at least one conference a year while working for my previous church and I loved it! I'm a learner. An experiencer. The hands-on of being there (wherever there might be for that conference) and experiencing the crowd, the noise, the people, the words of wisdom...Don't get me wrong, I am an introvert and I often sneak away at these things just to have a moment of silence and people-watch...but all in all, I enjoy it for the usual 2-3 days these things last. I can usually handle it for that long.
Another thing I like about these conferences is the "free swag." I know, I know...I paid for the conference, so it's not technically free. But it still feels like it to me in the moment. And often this includes books. That I might not otherwise ever buy, but that end up being great (sometimes. sometimes not.). One such book I got years ago that had a great impact on my life (at the time) was Permission to Speak Freely.
I would love to always feel like I have permission to speak freely. I think that's why I was excited about it. What could I learn? What could this look like in my life? Could I be so bold? Could I speak freely? Always?
It's been years, and I remember bits and pieces, but overall, the biggest thing I walked away with after reading this book was the "gift of going second." And I tried hard to put it into practice. And I learned of others trying to put it into practice after I talked about it in a staff meeting. The overall idea is going first (whatever this may look like) and therefore giving others the "gift of going second." This has a lot to do with authenticity. Sharing life- the ups and the downs. The struggles and junk especially. The stuff we don't want to share and don't want anyone else to know about. That's the stuff we should be sharing first so that others realize they are not alone and are willing to share also. They are willing to go second.
I share all of this with the realization that I feel like I have gotten away from this. It is so much easier and more natural for me to keep my thoughts and ideas to myself. To keep my struggles hidden (past and present). To judge others for their junk and pretend like I don't have any. To not talk and not share. To just not even think about it. To only think of me and my comfort level and not think about others and how me sharing first could impact them and help them share more freely. To think about how it's easier to give one-word (often not authentic) answers and move on with life. To not think about going into more detail and being real. It's just easier not to be.
And I share all of this so that I will not just think in my head that I should put this into practice, but to make it public (with the 3 people who read this blog) and be held a little more accountable in these thoughts.
A friend recently sent a long message about life and where's she's at and what she's been going through and what's going on and all that jazz. And I loved it. I thought, "if she had just asked how I was doing, I would have said Good and probably not much more." But she didn't. She shared. The good and the hard. And she gave me the Gift. I wanted to share more back because she shared first.
I want to give others this Gift. Let's all work together to give the gift of going second.