"People take your naked body so literally." I looked across the table at my date, and shortly after being offended, I realized he was right. I had been discussing my desire to help people be more confident within themselves, starting with their bodies. My date was suggesting that people might be somewhat freaked out that I might ask them to get naked.
I have been doing this project for six months now, and I realize, more now than ever, that it is not my body that is the point. It is not that it is a challenge to come up with inspiring phrases. It is not that I am putting them on social media on several different platforms in order to encourage and inspire.
While this is all important to me, it is not the point. The point, is that on every level, we are scared to reveal ourselves. Not necessarily our bodies, but our souls, our thoughts, our hearts. This is what is truly challenging; to admit to your deepest desires, and your most terrifying fears.
There are so many things that I will never be. There are so many places that I will never see. But I am free to choose, and that, to me, is the only freedom I need. I am very afraid I will not be accepted. I am scared to death I will be criticized. I worry constantly about what other artists think of my work. I worry about failure. I ruminate for hours on how painful it would be to be betrayed. I do. But, I have a choice and I have history and some experience to help inform my decisions, I can let these fears and anxieties control my behavior, or, I can push past them; I can live beyond them.
I ask myself how vulnerable I want to be. How much do I want to share? How much will sharing my pain help other people? I am not hoping to get everyone taking naked selfies. I am not hoping to have people do what I do. I am hoping that in their own way, people will find a way to be vulnerable, even if it is only incrementally. Even if it is only with themselves. I am hoping that I can inspire people to be naked by being more honest, more authentic. More human.
I have made this practice, this very personal and meaningful practice, public because I believe that the very demonstration of courage will help inspire others to be courageous in their own way with whatever they are ready to do. And that is the point. That you do what you are ready to do. You do not have to rush. You do not have to pressure yourself into doing anything you are not ready for. And being ready does not mean it is easy. It does not mean that you are completely comfortable. It means that you have what you need to handle what might or might not happen. That is all. It is not a guarantee. It is a risk.
This naked selfie project is still a risk for me. That is why I continue. I keep finding new ways to expose myself as I am ready. I keep finding ways to take risks. I keep finding myself in this project and finding that I am not as scary, deep down, as I thought I was. I am not as horrible as I once believed myself to be. I am finding new ways to love and accept myself. That is why this is a practice. Because I am within, and I am attempting to draw myself out.
Be just who you need to be, and when you are ready, see how much more you are. Discover how much more you can possibly be. Surprise yourself with your depth, your vulnerability. Show us your human side. We need you.
Whenever you are ready.
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