Behind the Curtain:

Life Backstage Tells a Different Story

The front row has nothing on the real drama backstage.

The other day I was venting to my sister about pressing financial matters.

“I guess I’ll just be working well into my 70’s.”

“You could be like those older ladies I see at Macy’s. They are at least that age and so adorable working there.”

My sister’s tone was genuine, making the delivery of her words sting that much more.

“Great idea! That’s always what I wanted to do late in life.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.

“I think it would be fun.” 

Now the gloves were off. Like a water hose finally unplugged, I unleashed my anger her way.

“Fun? How can you say that? Why the hell would I want to work at some meaningless job in retail out of necessity in my 70’s?!”

Behind the Curtain of Anger

My sister hadn’t done anything wrong. The anger I unfairly threw her way stemmed from a genuine fear of which her words had, inadvertently, fanned the flames.

Fear is the backstage entity often cloaked in anger. When we aren’t in alignment with ourselves, the slightest comment or action of another can be perceived as salt on a wound.

My sister had genuinely tried to comfort me. She, of course, could only do this from her own vantage point:

“I’d love to have a job like that someday. My career involves so much responsibility. I can’t imagine not working even after I retire, so doing something in retail part time would be fun.”

Wearing Someone Else’s Shoes Hurts

When we look for comfort from someone else, we need to remember that they:

  • only possess their own vantage point
  • are not responsible for the other person’s inner alignment

My sister can hear that I’m experiencing a fiscal crisis, but that is not the same as experiencing it. Likewise, I can hear my sister express her potential enjoyment at working in retail later in life, but I can’t make myself share this sentiment.

Asking someone to feel what you are feeling is like shoving your shoe onto someone else’s foot: it’s not going to fit and can be downright painful.

It’s important to know what you are asking for from that person in the first place. My sister was only sharing her thoughts on the idea of working in her 70’s.

 But I had never been clear about where I was standing: blazing, unfiltered fear.

Say Where You Are

I hadn’t acknowledged the intense fear and instead danced in front of the figurative curtain with haughty anger.

My attitude had been a defiant “Can you believe this bullshit?” but inside, behind the curtain, I was peeing in my pants.

How could we expect anyone to be there for us emotionally if we don’t tell them where we are emotionally?

Spend Time Backstage

After touring the backstage area of my psyche, I got real with the fear. 

When we spend time in the discomfort of fear, acknowledging its presence, and facing it head on, the fear itself dissipates. 

The fiscal situation is still there, but my spiritual awareness of the bigger picture has kicked in, and with it, I know that my health is the most invaluable gift there is and not worth sacrificing to the external (and temporary) reality.

Backstage is where fear likes to lurk; it is a stealthy entity, hiding behind anger. But when we face our fear head-on, peeling back the curtain to the what-ifs that plague our psyches, light pours in, leaving no room for fear to hide.

Serving Ourselves a Dare

The fear paradox: the greater we avoid something, the more likely it is to consume us.

Remember when you were a kid or teen and you dared your friends to do something scary? Sometimes it was something that in hindsight wasn’t so scary like going up to a police officer and asking him for the time; other times it was scary but—once again with that good ole’ hindsight—foolish and borderline dangerous, like eating something questionable like glue or a bug?

Regardless of what kind of dare you were given or gave, the intent was always the same: to get a thrill, a rise, a rush of adrenaline through our youthful veins. Even just giving someone a dare was enough to make our blood pump faster.

If you are reading this, chances are you fall into the adult demographic and your days are filled with lots of R’s (responsibilities). Time is limited while to-do lists are infinite; you are rarely in the now and more often than not, planning what needs to be accomplished or completed next.

One of my colleagues recently said, “I’m going to be like an ostrich and keep my head in the sand.” She was referring to our new virtual reality of teaching through so many new online platforms. A friend of mine shared with me this evening that she accepted a new position because “it’s safe.” As we get older—and with the uncertain backdrop of the ubiquitous pandemic—it’s understandable and downright tempting to want to cling to what is safe, to dig our head into the figurative sand until the unknown passes.

But what would happen if we, as author and professor, Brene Brown suggests in her eponymous book, DARING GREATLY, we became that young kid again (who still resides inside of us)? What if we chose to shake the sand off of our heads and see whatever is going on without judgement? What if we decided to not cling to safety so steadfast and instead, allowed ourselves to feel a little rush of fear as we considered other alternatives to earning money?

When we were children, we dared each other; as adults, we need to serve ourselves a dare: something that will reignite our soul and breathe fresh life into our lives.

Consider the pandemic, the growing violence in our world, the political tension—let’s not forget the killer hornets and potential meteor headed our way (the day before the US Election). Do we really have the control that we are so hungry for? Uncertainty is abound, and here’s the rub: the more we cling to things/people/circumstances for peace of mind, the less peace of mind we will experience. 

So what can we do? How can we serve ourselves a dish of happiness in such an uncertain world? We can find opportunities to dare ourselves—even if it’s over something that might seem small. 

My dare is often involving facing my fears. Fears embraced lose their power over us. And there’s nothing that feels more alive than meeting your fear head-on—talk about an adrenaline rush!

The great thing about being an adult is you don’t need to wait for someone to dare you. But since I’m still that kid inside who never grew up, I’ll take this moment to dare you, right now! Serve yourself a daring dish and watch your life change—dare I say, for the better!