The Life Inside My Head

life-in-my-headI am soooooo courageous, dynamic, graceful and eloquent — INSIDE my head.  I can easily conjure up images of myself leading, speaking or singing to thousands and bringing the house down with my penetrating words and brilliant, power-packed delivery.  But in real life?  Not so much. I stumble over my words and shake in my boots, my voice quivers as I hope against hope that I can discover some little window through which people could get just a glimpse of the braver person rattling around in an untapped compartment in my head.

This “life inside my head” was once again stirred up when I spoke at a sweet little church across town a couple Sundays ago.  It had been a couple years since I did any public speaking; and though I didn’t hesitate for a second to say “yes” when I was invited to speak, I have to admit that afterward I couldn’t get OVER how new and clumsy I felt…  how my meticulous notes did me ZERO good when I stood before the expectant listeners that morning… how the more-dynamic-me went into hiding the moment I stepped up to the front of that church.

I remember one particular vocal instructor I had when I was an awkward teenager trying to find my voice. Her name was Linda Adler and she was the closest thing to the ideal person I had ever met.  She actually lived out the kind of exciting personality I thought might be trapped inside me, behind my guardedness and perfectionism. Whatever she said, I believed and wanted to emulate.  Her boldness both inspired and horrified me, though.  She used to make me sing loudly – really loudly – urging me not to worry about whether or not it sounded perfect.  This was not cool.  The whole reason I wanted to take voice lessons in the first place was to make the sounds came out of my mouth more perfect… and here she was trying to ruin my plan by making me blurt out random crazy vocal exercises at a volume the entire neighborhood might hear.

Up until that time, I had no intentions of opening my mouth unless I was very sure that what came out was going to be on-pitch and unoffensive. When I finally mustered up the courage to do what she was asking, she would go nuts with praise and tell me how great I sounded.  And I’ll admit it felt pretty good.  Linda showed me that I could do things I never thought I could do.

Linda and I both moved to different parts of the country.  I grew up and life took me in a direction I never dreamed possible.  I became a writer!  Finally, the person in my head could sneak out behind the safety of well-edited words!  I could sit in my pajamas and slippers, in desperate need of a shower, and say things I would never begin to say with my stammering tongue.  I write so much more boldly and eloquently than the “me” you might see speaking at a church in Indianapolis – or even placing a drive-thru food order.  I just thought you should know that.

The “me inside my head” found a place of discovery.  For years I wrote anonymously then eventually baby-stepped my way to actually being willing to put my name on some things.  Blogging was a scary step, but an important step out of anonymity.  It’s been a long, fairly slow process but, as I learned from Linda Adler, the only way to keep making progress is to keep doing horrifying things that firmly kick me out from behind the well-edited script I’d like to call my life.

Really living requires us to put ourselves out there… to be true about who we are… to accept the fact that we will never get a personality transplant.  It’s a daily battle to accept challenges that feel uncomfortable with courage. But once the fear of risk is overtaken by the greater desire to be everything we can be… we begin living out the purpose for which we were created.

Anyone else out there struggle with this internal tug of war?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

10 thoughts on “The Life Inside My Head

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  1. “Really living requires us to put ourselves out there… to be true about who we are… to accept the fact that we will never get a personality transplant. It’s a daily battle to accept challenges that feel uncomfortable with courage. But once the fear of risk is overtaken by the greater desire to be everything we can be… we begin living out the purpose for which we were created.”

    Excellent…That, of course, also risks us putting our faults out there as well, the ugly stuff that we don’t always want other people to see or know about.

    In other words, no, you’re not the only one. There are things I’ve thought about maybe not sharing but ended up doing so for one reason or another and I’ve been blessed because of it. Other times I still wish I hadn’t…

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  2. I love how you craft your words, bringing experiences to life and saying it succinctly, but poignantly.

    I have found such a freedom in the last 10 years in just accepting who I am. I used to think that being Spirit-filled would turn me into the vivacious, outgoing person that I imagined I should be. Coming to understand that that is never who I will be…and I finally have realized I probably don’t want to be, well, at least most of the time!

    Being content with who I am right now, not expecting anything more right now has been freeing for me. As I have been freed from trying not to make mistakes or appear sinful or even flawed, I find Christ has so much more freedom to draw me to what he wants me to be.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there. You are a dear.

    PS the singer inside my head is amazing: she sings with freedom and confidence and feeling. I still don’t know what will happen with her….

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  3. I loved reading this. I identify with everything you said (except the parts about being a writer)! Last year I joined a start-up church and got shang-hai’d into being on the worship team as a back-up singer. So, every Thursday and Sunday I pack my self-esteem issues away in the closet and become “Vonda The Wonder Singer!!!” And every time I hit a sour note I wait for our worship leader to take me quietly into a corner and give me the bad news. But, “that was lovely, dear” is all he ever says! Maybe the “me inside MY head” is getting closer to the outside me. Isn’t life a great ride?

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  4. “Really living requires us to put ourselves out there… to be true about who we are… to accept the fact that we will never get a personality transplant. It’s a daily battle to accept challenges that feel uncomfortable with courage. But once the fear of risk is overtaken by the greater desire to be everything we can be… we begin living out the purpose for which we were created”

    Emily I too took many years to “come out” and find out who I am in Christ and how to best use my talents for HIM! I think we all have our own special moments and I only wish I had found my NICHE earlier. You have many talents and I pray you will continue IN HIS STRENGTH!!!! You certainly are a real blessing to all of us! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us!!

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  5. You’re definitely not alone. I think we all struggle, to some degree, with the imbalance between our inner and outer personas.

    The inner me is outgoing, charming, fearless, always knows exactly the right thing to say and do, and can immediately put people at ease. In reality? I could be a movie extra – one of those people in a restaurant or on the street … always in the background, never drawing any attention. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to terms with it, and instead of trying to change, have learned to appreciate the strengths of my true self; I am intelligent, honest, hard-working, loyal, dependable, and in spite of sounding like a german shepherd, that’s okay with me.

    Oh, and Emily, you may have trouble when you “say it”, but you sure can “write it”!

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  6. Hi, Emily. I recently stumbled across your blog, and I am really impressed with your achievements and how you present yourself in a humble way.

    I definitely struggle with the disconnect between what goes on in my head and how I present myself to people. I have always been able to express myself in writing, but I often stumble over words and find myself speaking with less confidence and eloquence than I would like.

    Learning to accept myself for who I am and in spite of my flaws is such a difficult process. I look at other people all the time and wonder to myself how they have “it all together,” while I am completely floundering about. But in reality nobody has it all together; we all struggle to some degree.

    Thank you for you honesty.

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  7. Hi Emily,

    This is really random, but I am a junior at Indiana Wesleyan and I am interested in finding a “mentor” in my future (or hoped-for!) career. I am a writing and leadership double major, with dreams of making a living as a writer. I found your profile on LinkedIn and stumbled my way your your blog.

    Could you please contact me by email? I’d love to chat more with you!
    Heather.Moline@student.indwes.edu

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Like

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