The Power of Being Known

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.

XOXO Tate

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Beauty: A FEELING or a LOOK?

When do you feel beautiful? Notice I said FEEL and not LOOK. I’m not interested in when your selfie gets the most likes or when your “eyebrows are on fleek” or any of that crap. I’m interested in the good the stuff, the soul-wrenching stuff. The moments when you feel most yourself, and you feel most beautiful.

I’ll give you a few examples. I feel beautiful right when I wake up in the morning. When my eyelids are still sleepy and my hair’s a mess and my naked face is sprinkled with too many freckles to count. I feel beautiful when I pour my morning glass of tea and it fogs up my glasses and I remember I still have my retainers in. When I look in the mirror and see nothing but my little old self is when I feel most beautiful.

I feel beautiful right after I finish a workout. The last step of my run, the final hip shake in Zumba (try it, it’s fun), or when I finally reach savasana in my yoga practice. I feel strong, powerful, and resilient. Oh, and beautiful.

One more because this one’s important. I feel beautiful when I’m surrounded by the people who love me. My family, my friends, my boyfriend. Oh and my little kitty, Sadie Marie. But when we’re sitting around the table for Family Pizza Night, laughing our heads off, I realize that I feel happy. Not only happy, but loved. And not only loved, but beautiful.

So you get the point. I gave you those three examples just to get the wheels spinning in your own head, but know that your reasons may be completely different than mine. But personally, I have found one common theme in all of those moments and it’s this: It’s not about what I LOOK like, it’s about how I FEEL. When I wake up right in the morning and look like a 12 year old, I’m probably not looking my best. But boy do I feel that way. After I finish a long run in the Arizona heat, I would probably be described as “hot” or “sweaty” or “cheeks as red as a tomato”. “Beautiful” may not be in that description, but it sure is in mine. And when I’m with the people I love, MY people, I don’t really give a crap what I look like. I could be in my pajamas with zit cream on my face and they would love me just the same as if I were wearing some expensive dress with a MK purse to match. My point is that beauty really doesn’t have anything to do with your outward appearance, but your feelings about your appearance.

Which is where our society comes in. Our culture benefits off of us feeling insecure about ourselves. Every product promises to give us clearer skin or more voluminous hair or will help us LOSE TEN POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS. You know what I have say to all of that? BULLSHIT. You can have clear skin and voluminous hair and be the most fit person in the room, but does that guarantee you will actually FEEL beautiful about yourself? Absolutely not. Actually, because of the competitive society we live in, it’s quite the contrary. There’s always a new product coming out, something more to improve on. Your skin could be EVEN CLEARER, and your hair MORE VOLUMINOUS, and now its TWENTY POUNDS instead of ten. So we then find ourselves stuck on this hamster wheel of never feeling good enough and never feeling beautiful. And THAT is an exhausting way to live.

So let me propose something to you. Instead of searching out PRODUCTS to make us LOOK more beautiful, why don’t we seek out EXPERIENCES that make us FEEL beautiful. Forget about the perfect hair and perfect skin and perfect body, WHATEVER THE HECK “PERFECT” even is and go out and DO SOMETHING. Do something that makes you  feel like you. Go on a hike. Go for coffee with a friend. Go to church and be reminded of your true beauty, the beauty given to you by the Father himself. Spend time in nature, ride a bike, write or read or create or DO ANYTHING that lights a fire in your soul and makes you happy you are alive. Because I promise you, THAT is when you will feel most beautiful.

Whenever my self-esteem starts to drop or I start to feel like I’m not good enough, instead of focusing on my outward appearance, I take a check on how I’m doing inside. Am I feeling lonely? Underappreciated? Misunderstood? Checking in with myself usually tells me WHY I’m feeling the way I am. More likely than not, it’s not about my body or my hair or whatever I’m nitpicking that day. We’re just so used to taking out our emotions on our physical appearance that it feels like the natural thing to do sometimes. But I always make a point to really sit down and do an inventory of what’s going on inside.

There’s a quote that really sums up this whole blog post, and one that I read several times a week.

“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself – what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.” -Warsan Shire

While this quote is something important to think about, it’s something even more important to do. Actually get up and document those moments. Take a picture when you’re with the ones you love and you feel on top of the world. That shirt that may be really simple but makes you feel confident? Put it in the front of your closet and wear it every day of the week if you want. Write about the feeling when you reached the peak of the mountain, or felt liberated going out without makeup, or did something that really made you feel like YOU. Like the quote says, RECREATE and REPEAT. Because when you really focus on making your life and experiences beautiful, you, in turn, will feel exactly the same.

Happy Sunday, my little beauties!

XOXO Tate

Oh and one last quote from Emma Watson because this girl speaks the truth. Can you say beauty and brains?!?

“Feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what you look like. I promise.”

Okay I’m really done now BYEEEEE ❤