On Showing Up

When I was turning 17 and a Junior in High school, my mom made me a deal. If I went to school the whole week, I could go to the high school dance. It was on my birthday. My fibromyalgia was not yet diagnosed and my depression was completely out of control. I had dropped half of my classes and was only taking band and math.

When I signed in at the front desk I was already shaking. I managed to walk all the way to the band room doors, pass in hand, before I could no longer control my emotions. I lost it. I walked all the way back to the counselors office, head down tears dripping onto the speckled tile. Showing up to school was harder than I thought it was going to be. Ten minutes in the counselors office and I was ready to try again. This time I made it all the way to the room, walked through the doors, and handed my note to the band director. But I couldn’t make it up the tiered floor to the back of the room. I walked right out, completely defeated.

My counselor called my mom when I returned to her office. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go to band, it was too hard. But then she said the important part, “Mrs. France I understand and respect the deal you made with your daughter, but she has shown up. She is trying as hard as she can to be here. Please let her skip math today and just go home. Please count this day as a success. She is trying”

My mom did count that day as a success. I went to Homecoming that week. I am sure I have the awkward pictures somewhere. Walking into that band room might be the bravest thing I have ever done. Showing up is hard.

I finished the latest round of edits on my book last night. I already know I’m not done yet. I got some really good feedback this morning and am anxious to jump back in already. Editing and writing are very different processes for me. I write frantically, just purging everything. Editing is slow and detailed oriented. It doesn’t play to my strong suits. I’m not good at not being good at things.

There is a big part of me that wants to tuck my manuscript in a folder and never look at it again. I wrote it, that is an accomplishment in and of itself. I kept the first messy 1500 words in a file labeled “reflections” for five years. Maybe that is where all this belongs. Some days it doesn’t even feel like I am doing anything, not really. I am just re-reading the words I have re-read for the past month or so. I am searching for had, and got, and that. I am deleting or replacing half of those. But I keep getting called back to my computer. I keep getting asked to show up.

Showing up is hard. Can we just admit that? Sometimes it takes all the brave we can muster up.

Showing up, really showing up, with my whole self, so I mean it, that is hard. Being there and with and really showing up is hard. It is hard to feel the things that make me feel, to listen to people, to try to understand. It is hard to show up because what if…

What if you show up and people don’t like you? What if you show up and you don’t fit in? What if you thought it was going to be a rodeo, and it turns out it was a black tie affair and everyone is really nice about your cowboy boots but it feels like they are laughing at you behind your back? Showing up, can be really scary. If you do it enough, you are guaranteed to be off sometimes.

But showing up is worth it. The joy on the other side is worth the brave it takes to get their.

We need you to show up. I need you to show up. I need someone to show up to the rodeo in her little black dress. And I need someone else to show me how to rock the cowboy boots at the ball. I know it is scary, and I know it takes all the brave we have some days, but I think showing up is worth it. And if you need me to, I will hold your hand and call your mom and tell her how brave you are, just for the trying,

12 thoughts on “On Showing Up

  1. This is really inspiring. You are right; sometimes, after a defeating day or event at work, it’s hard to imagine even going back. It’s hard to see the point of even trying. But returning is the first step to perspective and growth. Keep being brave!

  2. Now I am the one who is showing up. Showing up at a job that isn’t a good fit for me at all. But I signed a contract and I will honor it. I remember that I am working for the Lord.

  3. Abby,
    I know sometimes the hardest thing to do is to start. Showing up can be hard and sometimes I do question if it was worth it or not. I do let my head rule my heart on showing up because I do believe as you do that most of the time it is worth it and the times I think it might not be then I know I may not be a good judge of its worth then.

  4. A literacy coach sent this post. Your words are so true. Lately, it’s been harder to show up and feel like I’m doing a good job. Thanks for the reminder that it’s okay to be honest and that the reward is worth it.

  5. I have become really bad at the showing up lately. I want to run back, out the doors, and never go back. But you are right. Someone does need cowboy boots at the ball, a black dress at the rodeo, jeans at the prom and my ball gown just to wear every day……
    You never cease to kick me in the pants. Thank you. Now I need my Wonder Woman undies and I think I’ll be alright 🙂

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