As of late, I have been binge-watching “Naked and Afraid” on the Discovery Channel. From the title alone, I assumed that I would never watch this show. It just sounds like a bit of a downer. Yet one day I turned it on and a binge began.
The premise of the show is that two total strangers meet in a remote and usually dangerous location. Both parties are stripped of any clothing and belongings (they are allowed a canvas bag with one item of their choosing) . They are not given food, water, shelter or anything like that. They must survive 21 days finding necessities from their surroundings. There is an emergency crew but they are at a different location. The two participants are basically on their own.
Why naked you may ask? Because we, as humans, can “hide” behind clothes, we can use possessions to guard us from real interactions and we can stand behind “things” in order to hide our real selves. I found this concept, not only completely terrifying, but extremely interesting. For most of my life I have hidden behind things. Closed doors allowed me to justify not leaving the house. Closed curtains allowed me to never see outside myself. Clothes and make up made becoming someone else much easier; someone who was not me because I was afraid to let the real me show. I wore my fears like a suit, forever holding me back from trying new things or from trying to connect with a world that I was unsure of.
This adventure I am on is my own version of “Naked and Afraid”. I no longer have those things I used to hide behind. I may not be physically naked but I feel spiritually naked. Hiding from life is no longer an option. Being afraid is my constant companion. Not that my life is necessarily in danger, but everyday presents new things for me to try and to learn. Resting on laurels is a thing of the past. I realize now that I have been paralyzed by that fear.
I have previously outlined past failures but I do not think I understood how much that particular fear has ruled my life. Now I can see it clearly. It is so much easier to do nothing or only those things you are good at then to step outside the circle of comfort and either fall on your face or climb to the top of the mountain. The participants of the show are asked why they took on this challenge, especially since there is no big cash prize. They all say, something to this effect, that they needed to challenge themselves and to find out what they are made of. Each person was being held back by some fear and this group of people felt the need to challenge those fears. Most came out of the experience stronger and more sure of themselves.
Fire does that; it purifies and strengthens. We are all experiencing our own fire scenarios. Seems to me the human condition is a fearful one. Yet some of us stand up to the fears and some of us hide from them. Honestly, I would rather hide from them but something inside me has changed and no longer will accept that as an option. Now when I meet strangers I try to be naked, vulnerable if you will. Sometimes I am opened up to a wonderful connection with someone I may never have known and sometimes they look at me like what the heck. You can learn from both experiences for sure but when you get that unexpected hug or the single tear in your eye you realize that you will never be the same. When you step out and try something new, makes no difference if you succeed or fail, you are changed.
I prayed for change for years, now I have it. My thought process is so different now. It is not all about me, it is about all of us as one community. Not everyone likes who I am, but that is okay. Life is not about making sure everyone likes you but it is about being true and authentic even through the fear. Here is to being naked and afraid, the fires in life that make us all better, stronger people. I now choose to face my fears instead of cowering in a corner.