Chances are, you don’t know me. Maybe you read my blog and maybe I like your Instagram pictures, maybe we’re Snapchat friends or occasionally like each other’s tweets. You may think you “know” me but you don’t KNOOOOW me…and there’s a BIG difference.
The other day I was sitting down with someone who has been in my life for about seven years now. I was venting to him about how my Grandma just died and how I’m struggling with recovery and how life has just been really hard lately. I was broken, hopeless, and ultimately in need of some words of encouragement. What he didn’t give me was that, but what he did give me was something I will never EVER forget:
He got real quiet, looked me deep in the eyes, and said “Tatum, I KNOW you.”
And that was that.
I. Know. You.
Three simple words that meant everything to me, that meant more than any advice or encouragement could ever mean. He didn’t tell me that things were going to get better, that life was just testing me, that I needed to keep my chin up. But he did tell me that he knew me, and that was all that mattered.
At our core, we all have a longing to be known – to know others and be known by them without having to put up any walls or put on any masks. It’s a hard thing to be vulnerable, but it’s a beautiful thing. Magic happens when you let someone SEE you, when you let someone in REGARDLESS of how you FEEL or LOOK that day. When you can BE YOURSELF without fearing what someone will say or how they will react. When you let someone see your HEART, you let them SEE you. And when you let someone SEE you, you are KNOWN.
“Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves.” –Atticus
I could’ve gone into that conversation with that person guarded, with my walls up, with a smile slapped on my face. But I didn’t. I CHOSE to let him see me in my darkness, my despair, my hopelessness. I let him watch as the tears fell down my face. I let him see the pain in my eyes. I allowed him to see WHO I was, AS I was, that day. And every day is different. He has seen me on top of the world and under the world, he has seen me laugh without a care and cry without a cause. He has seen me in my highest of highs and lowest of lows and BECAUSE he has been there through all of that, he KNOWS me. He knows my heart, my intentions, the core of who I am. And knowing that he knows me is one of the most special, treasured feelings I have ever had.
Who knows you? Truly, honestly KNOWS you? Who have you let in? Who do you NEED to let in? For a long time, I wrestled with these questions and was heartbroken when I finally realized the answer: not enough people. I had let my family in, but that was pretty much it. And let me tell ya, it was a lonely way to live. I wondered why didn’t have strong friendships, why I didn’t let others get close to me, what was WRONG with me. One day, the answer hit me like a ton of bricks: INSECURITY. Yep, I was insecure to a point where it paralyzed me. I didn’t like me, so how could others possibly like me? I wouldn’t dare let them in because I was terrified of them seeing who I truly was. And that’s when the work began.
The work of truly figuring out who I was, what I believed in, what my values were. It may sound funny, but it took me a long time to get to know myself again. For so long I had hid behind walls of shame and doubt and insecurity; I had hid behind my eating disorder, my cheer uniform, ANYTHING that could protect people from knowing the real me. I felt like people liked me, but they didn’t know me. I had “friends,” but I didn’t have FRIENDS. It was a devastating realization and the only person to blame was myself. I was the one who had created those barriers and boy, I was the one who was gonna break them down.
And I did. I did the work. I figured out who I was and slowly started letting people see that person. Day by day, I watched my relationships get stronger – the casual catching up and small talk I was used to turned into deep, meaningful conversations with people. And the strangest thing happened: the more I let people see me, the more they let me see them. It was a beautiful thing, a powerful thing. My relationships became a safe place, an open place, a place where I was listened to and loved and KNOWN, truly fully KNOWN.
Let yourself be known today. Trust me, you’re awesome. And if you don’t think so, it’s your silly little brain telling you that. You are unique, one of a kind, and so unbelievably worthy of being known.