I’ll never forget this moment for the rest of my life. There we were, sitting across from each other in school practicing something that made everyone incredibly uncomfortable at the start – for 5-10 minutes, while a specific passage was being read, looking deeply into someones eyes non stop.

So there we sat, and when I finally relaxed, I was able to feel into this person I’ve never met before. Breathing…tensions releasing…feeling.

The most interesting part out of this whole experience came when the exercise ended. She looked at me and said something I will never forget. “There’s a depth to you thousands of feet deep…and there’s the playfulness of a young child, and at the exact same time, I could feel just how much pain you are in.”

I choked on these words. Those moments make something inside you quiver and shake…and I have to be honest with you, those words bring some tears to my eyes as I write them now – exactly the same ones as I had when she told me what she felt. But why?

For the first time, I felt like I was deeply seen by someone. We didn’t have to have lengthy conversations about my life, the past and the future, or anything else. No, she just had to stare me in the eyes and saw straight into me. She tapped into my life in ways that no one else has, and forever I will have a friend and a connection who has done something in 10 minutes in which most people haven’t been able to do in years.

To be deeply seen, how precious, and yet how incredibly scary that is.

I don’t know exactly when it all started for me, but I somewhere along the line learned to turn of my sight and my ears and really lean into people and what they are feeling inside. Now, especially with all of these things I have tapped into lately I can access this now more than ever. I know that I have deeply seen a handful of people around me…and the thing is, they know it just as well. In almost every case, when I am with these people, they turn off “the show” and they allow themselves to come to me completely open and honest. Truth is, I love them for exactly who they are and exactly who they aren’t. These relationships in my life are by far the most meaningful ones I have – ones that you can literally sit next to someone in pure silence and be completely comfortable. There’s no need to speak…that energy, those vibrations, well…they sometimes speak far more than simple words.

If we could take our masks off – if we could end “the show” and allow ourselves to be deeply seen by those around us, we would all bloom. But it’s the person we think we need to be around others that disguises ourselves from even our greatest ability to love and act out ofย kindness. “The show”…you know, pretending like everything is always amazing, great, wonderful, couldn’t be happier. We could also call it the “great lie of the ego.”

Most peoples egos are so insecure that they feign positive qualities because they couldn’t possibly contemplate what would happen if another person really knew what was going on with them. This fear, I am completely convinced, is a massive fear! What would happen if we really admitted to those around us that we were weak, insecure about things, completely and utterly unhappy with our current situation and afraid? What would happen if we allowed ourselves to melt in someone else’s arms and literally just let loose – I’m not talking about little weeping, no, I’m talking about soul shaking sobbing…what would the world think of us?

Truth is, you can sense it when someone has been strong for too long. This is a lesson I have had to learn the hard way. For the longest of times I had put of a front and actually built a chasm between me and others + my audience because I didn’t want to be deeply seen or really let them know how much pain I was actually in at times. Is it that way all the time? No of course not. But do I have absolutely horrible moments that take it out of me – you bet. If you look hard enough, you can tell. Honestly, especially if you know this feeling yourself, no one can fake it for long.

It’s incredibly scary to be deeply seen…but that moment is precious. There are people out there who will love you for everything that you are and everything that you aren’t. There are people out there who will want you on your good days and your bad days – when you are ugly and when you are pretty – when you are off and on – when you are everything and nothing. They will want to be there for you in your victories and they will hold you when you are defeated. I have a few people like that in my life, and I count myself to be one of the luckiest people on this earth to have a handful…and me, I know I am that person for a few others. I will go to the ends of the earth for those who I love and who need me, despite any circumstance, despite any distance, despite any time in between us…because I know one thing – life is incredibly complicated, people are very messy, and nothing is black and white. Life is a fully array of every color imaginable and if you begin to open up to the idea of “anything could happen”…it actually does happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen 5 minutes from now. I actually really don’t. But I am open to the uncertainty of it – in fact, I’ve fallen in love with now knowing what the hell is about to happen.

Don’t grip things to tight or else the cyclical nature of everything will remove itself from you. And here’s the thing, it’s time to drop the mask. My writing is my best effort at revealing more and more layers and my attempt to take off my mask. It’s scary. It’s anxiety inducing. It’s painful at times. But you will bring more authentic relationships into your life if people can see the real you. They want to know you are weak. They want to know that you struggle. They want to know you suffer and experience everything that can make you a little less strong than normal. They want to know those things because when they do know them, they will love you all the same. Strength…mighty strength…does not always come from being the strongest. They are many many different ways of being strong. There is great power in the movement of water just as much as there is great power in the mountain. Life comes in many different varieties – don’t limit yourself to simple resistance. Maybe it’s time things flowed a little and you brought your heart out – the depths of your heart – to play.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project