Many people dream of being on a magazine's cover. I never did. For me being in public has always been just part of the job, nothing more. Of course you promote the company you work for. Nothing glamorous about it.
Last month I appeared on the cover of a small specialist magazine. For me the size of the potential target group was irrelevant. I was just happy that our start up New.me got a possibility to be mentioned in the story that was about my book From Ego to Fantasmago -- Your Way to Your Charismatic Self.
The controversy of being seen
One thinks that appearing on the cover would be nice. Surprisingly it felt horrible. Don't get me wrong. I loved the photographer. He was a true talent and fun to work with. I loved the interviewer, too. She was the editor-in-chief: very intelligent, had done her home work well and was sincerely interested in the subject: the essence of real charisma.
So why was the experience unpleasant if all the elements related to it were all but that?
I guess the true reason for my anxiety was that I was seen -- by many. And that felt unpleasant.
The art of being vulnerable
This sounds somewhat illogical if you think about my 15 years experience in PR. Because of it I should know exactly what it's like to be on a cover and what's going to happen after it's published.
Still, when the result is out there it always surprises. Anyone can say anything about you now, because you are on display. Just anyone.
Emotionally it's the same as standing naked in front of the wedding audience before saying I do. (You surely know this popular nightmare theme that frequently occurs in people's dream repertoire.) There's nothing you can do to protect yourself. You are busted. Period.
Visionaries Seth Godin and Brené Brown have both written about vulnerability. They claim that it's THE key to authentic happiness. Only by having the courage to show up we get the possibility to shine our unique light.
As John Greene has said: "You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are."
Inspired by these pioneering minds two friends of mine whose work I highly admire have written about the theme: content strategist Mari Rasimus and photographer Krista Keltanen. They put out an essential question: Could anyone else apart from me be me?
No one can. It's 100-percent up to each of us. Our core lesson in life is to become ourselves.
The bliss of surrendering
If being seen means being vulnerable, how do we learn to do that? Well, we need to do something else before. We need to surrender.
Surrendering is the best antidote to control. It's also a blissful act. It is rare and precious and probably the most important skill we'll need in our life. Yet, nearly no one speaks about it.
Except Judith Orloff, the author of Ecstasy of Surrender: 12 Surprising Ways Letting Go Can Empower Your Life. She claims that surrendering is an experience of... ahem... ecstasy.
But hey, try to say that to a control freak. For a person like that surrendering is a disaster. It means a near-death experience. But one can survive and learn.
In my experience this is the "how-to" of surrendering:
1. Make yourself seen and become vulnerable.
2. Accept whatever follows.
3. Breathe. Remember that usually nothing bad happens.
4. Let go of the urge to control the situation.
5. Thank yourself for showing courage.
6. Welcome all the good that emerges.
7. Start from number 1.
Next time someone asks you to be seen, say yes. Remember, there's only one YOU in the whole world. No one else can give us the same as you can.