The Thrill of Authenticity

My mission: “I choose to live…

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passionately,

mask

authentically,

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unapologetically.”

 

A couple of weeks ago I purchased a BDSMblem pendant online. Through this process of self-reflection, creating a mission statement and trying to understand what could possibly be an authentic representation of who and what I am which I have recently been undergoing, I’ve come to a previously unimagined level of peace with myself.  I have accepted myself at a deeper level than ever before; I’ve let go of so much of the shame and fear I was still carrying with me every day. Had I already come a long way (even, risen from the ashes)? Indeed. However, as it turns out, I was headed to even greater heights yet! Having discovered a sudden desire to show an integral piece of my true self to the world, I sought out a BDSMblem pendent. Finding this was no small feat, I ended up having to order it from Sweden! It finally arrived a couple of weeks ago and, after ensuring water would not harm it, I have scarcely taken it off.

 

Exactly how the BDSM emblem is suposed to be

 

Based on the Celtic triskele, this symbol may be examined and found to be unextraordinary by anyone without a connection to BDSM. Having had this pendant as my constant companion for the past couple of weeks, I am honestly convinced of this. In fact, the only person who has examined it with more than a passing glance was my very own mother. The first time I saw her in person with this around my neck, she furrowed her eyebrows and even went so far as to tilt her head slightly from side to side as I spoke to her. She didn’t ask about it, but she quite obviously took a thorough look and attempted to draw some sort of significance from the symbol. Based on her letting it go without even an inquiry, I am quite sure she found it unremarkable. H has yet to say a word. Although my Mom was the only one to overtly investigate my new pendant (and H has ignored it completely), there is of course one other person whose reaction (or, sadly, lack thereof) is worth mentioning: Mr. Casual Friday.

 

As I’ve long fantasized about submitting to MCF, I (naturally) desperately sought a reaction, any reaction, from him. Having now conversed with him face-to-face on a minimum of three separate occasions over the past two weeks, each time with this pendant in full view for at least the span of several straight minutes, I am rather let-down by his heinous lack of response or even vague expression of interest! I mean, the man could at least be curious about this new symbol with which I’ve suddenly chosen to adorn myself!!! My only condolence is that, maybe (just maybe) he didn’t ask because he didn’t need to…if MCF was fully aware of the meaning of my pendant, perhaps it makes sense that he would completely avoid a conversation which could in no way be considered work-appropriate. My only hope at this point is that, one way or another, time will tell. One day, as time goes by and my pendant remains on display, he might just inquire after it. Or, on one of the rare occasions I randomly run in to him around town, perhaps he will say something indicating his knowledge. At this point, all I can think to do is, sadly, to wait. With baited breath!…no matter how ill-advised this plan might be to my health…

 

In other news, my leadership class is finally wrapping-up. I go back for the last two days next week. The second day includes a graduation ceremony and reception to which we are encouraged to invite family, friends, coworkers, mentors and anyone else who supports us. Taking this suggestion to heart, I decided to invite a total of five people. This may not sound like a high number, but once my penchant for obscuring realities about myself and my intense dislike of pomp and circumstance are accounted for, this is actually a lot of people! All of our direct managers were invited by the trainers, however they recommended we also extend the invite personally. One of the many projects in this leadership class was to create a logo that represents our cohort; the official graduation invitations include this logo along with the graduation details.

 

Once I received my five invites, I wrote a personal message on the back for each person. I thanked my boss for her support and expressed my sincere appreciation of the privilege it is to work for her. My Mom, who works for the same employer as myself, I thanked for always supporting me in all that I undertake and helping ensure my success in all things. To the manager I was reporting to when I started this training prior to my promotion, I thanked him for his honesty and candor as well as his support. To the manager I reported to last year when I applied for this training, I thanked him for his stellar letter of recommendation as well as the many opportunities he provided me during the two years (ish) for which I was one of his direct reports and once again acknowledged that without his support, encouragement, council and advice I would not be where I am today. I was able to hand-deliver each of these first four invitations last week, to which each person expressed their gratitude, having read it while I was present.

 

Last, but certainly not least, was Mr. Casual Friday. I made several attempts to deliver his invitation last week, but our schedules were not conducive to a face-to-face meeting. I did not want to simply leave it on his desk for a couple of reasons; one, I always wish to use any and every excuse to see him, talk to him, physically be in his presence; and two, if I left it I’d have had to decide which side to leave face-up, risking him potentially not seeing the second side. Although I had previously sent out calendar appointments for graduation to each of these people, I wanted him to understand why the thank you note was there. Without the context of the official graduation invitation it might have seemed a bit random. I will admit to being so nervous my hands were shaking when I finally went to deliver MCF’s invitation. Although what I wrote was heart-felt, it is extremely difficult for me to express myself so honestly. What was this almost earth-shattering (for me) message?

 

MCF,

You have taught me so much. I am humbled by your continued investment in me. I deeply appreciate your willingness to help me learn and grow; your support has helped me more than you know. I have my dream job in large part because you helped me overcome so many barriers to my own success. While I know it will never be possible for me to adequately repay you, I sincerely hope to someday have the opportunity to be of service to you. More than any other person, I would be thrilled and honored if you are able to attend this graduation to celebrate my success with me.

Thank you for everything,

LG

 

Although I handed MCF the invite so that he could see it was double-sided, he alone chose not to read the message in my presence. This probably makes sense as what is the point of a written note when you can simply relate something face-to-face? I’m not sure, this just somehow felt appropriate. I asked about an interview process I happened to see him conducting last week, which lead to my explaining our schedules were rather in conflict or I would have already delivered his formal invitation as I had for everyone else. “What!?” He exclaimed; he went on to say something along the lines of he should have been available so he could’ve been first, not last. To which I naturally responded, “But you’re supposed to save the best for last!” He jauntily objected (much as I expected he would) and I assured him that, since he was surprised to receive a formal invitation at all, he was still in the good 🙂 We chatted about inconsequential things for a few more minutes, jokingly using the word “overcome” about various work-related topics and laughing together. Far sooner than I would have wished, I left to work from home for the remainder of the day. About an hour after I saw MCF, I received the below email from him entitled Invitation”.

 

Hi LG,

Thank you for the kind words. Understanding your own potential and regardless if you overcome or compromise, to a certain degree, is a success that you yourself should be proud of. This experience will find a way to help you in your future and perhaps will show itself when you need it the most. I will be there!

Regards,

MCF

 

I am glad I included a hand-written note to each person with the formal invitations. This does bring the question forth: will they expect the thank you notes I will be giving out at graduation?

 

Thank you card

 

My cohort in this annual leadership training will be graduating 19 participants (we began with 20) and was lead by two trainers. I have created individualized thank you notes for each of these people in addition to the five people I personally invited to graduation. Although there were a great many things I did not agree with in regard to how this training was put on, the activities included and one of the trainer’s pervasive negativity and hypocrisy, the experience was what it was for me due to the specific circumstance of each and every one of these people’s involvement throughout. There was some good, a lot of bad and even more ugly which combine to create my experience; however, now that it is finally ending and I am free to move on, I find I can afford to be generous and focus on the positive. With this in mind, I created thank you notes which are sincere, individualized and (hopefully) will put a smile on each person’s face.

 

This idea of writing thank you notes came to me a couple of weeks ago, so I had actually already created all of them before I realized we would receive formal graduation invitations to hand out. Of course the overlap was only five individuals, but those are the most important people to me. This put me in the position of wishing to hand-write a message on the graduation invite after I’d essentially already used all my best material on the thank yous previously completed. I’m not proud of this, but the fact is expressing emotion is not one of my strengths! So, as I drafted each graduation invitation message, I then compared it to that person’s thank you to be sure I wasn’t overly repetitive. Writing five invitation messages took nearly as long as writing 25 thank yous!

 

 

Although at first glance these two sections about my BDSMblem and my leadership class might seem rather unrelated, the former has in great part become part of my life only thanks to the latter. As I’ve said before, self-reflection is one of my strengths. However, one can only grow so much in isolation. In order to truly change, grow and evolve, outside experiences, ideas and even influences are necessary. My recent self portrait series could theoretically have been done at any time; or, this blog in its entirety could be viewed as such. However, participating in this leadership training has created new avenues of self-exploration for me. I now feel that I am more me than I ever have been before. Although I have chosen not to share my true mission widely, that in no way reduces its meaning and impact on my life. Choosing to adorn myself with the BDSMblem is symbolic of who I am in multiple ways; it demonstrates both the fact that BDSM is deeply intertwined with my identity and everyday life while simultaneously announcing my acceptance and even pride in who and what I am to any who might recognize the symbol. I have released myself from the shackles of shame, at least in this even if perhaps not yet in all things.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Thrill of Authenticity

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