Our Real Work: Jess Ryan, MS

Coaching and consulting. Something's calling. It's your life.

What’s Hidden is Holding You Back: 5 Steps To Safely Uncovering Your Gifts


I’m not sure if you knew this about me, but I’m a sucker for poetry. Not just reading it, but writing it. I’ve had several pieces published and was invited to compete in the 2012 Women of the World Poetry Slam Competition. All under a pen name. Because I didn’t want anyone to know I wrote poetry.


I have no idea.

Writing poetry is not nearly as alarming as other things I’ve done in my life. But younger me seemed to think this “poetry writing” (yes, please feel free to use air quotations when you read this even if it doesn’t make sense, I really was writing poetry) was pretty earth shattering and didn’t quite fall inline with how I wanted others to perceive me.

Okay, I guess if I dig a little deeper––I didn’t want to be rejected.

Even deeper––the poetry was born out of my years of depression, trying to make sense of spiritual awakenings (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Jesus in the desert. Yeah, it’s a hard one to wrap your brain around), and periods of seemingly endless despair and questioning the point of life.

So when I truly examine the deeper reason for why I used a pen name and wrote like a hermit I can totally see why I didn’t want people to know about my poetry habit. It wasn’t the “poetry writing”, it was the real me I was afraid they’d see and reject.

Well, that sucked. Pretending not to be myself. All the time. Literally, expressing a more authentic version of myself under a fake name while maintaining all my relationships in the same way I always had. (Turns out I had very little faith in others at the time. Thank goodness for neuroplasticity.)

The metaphors are ripe here, people. Maybe poetry and pen names are not your gig, but where and what are you hiding?

My questions to you: (Seriously, grab your journal and carve out 10 minutes. Getting this out of your person makes it more concrete and will shift things in your system.)

1. What is one thing you’re not currently sharing about yourself with your friends, family, co-workers, etc.?

Maybe it’s an inspiration or an idea? Maybe it’s something from your past that you think others will judge? Maybe it’s your habits with money? Maybe it’s that nagging voice that reminds you that you always wanted to be a dancer?

2. What’s the story you’re telling yourself about why you can’t share this?

Good old Brene Brown helped me with this one in Rising Strong. Our minds can spin a pretty compelling story THAT. WE. BUY. like it’s God’s honest truth. Granted that story might have served us or protected us at one point in our lives, but my hunch is you are much more resourced and this story isn’t serving you anymore. Before we can change the story we need to know the story we’re telling.

Any of these sound familiar? They won’t love me anymore. People in my ___________ (insert family, social group, profession, etc.) don’t do this. They will make fun of me. If I say/do that, it will ruin my career. I’ll be embarrassed.  Oh, the list goes on. What’s your story?

3. Does this require outside support?

Regardless of whether or not you just realized you need to be a dancer at 65 or those things that happened in your twenties are still shaping your relationships, it’s always wise to call in support and reinforcements. If you’ve been carrying these ideas and thoughts by yourself for this long, and they’re still buried in there, you aren’t going to change it alone. Life coaches are great for getting from point A to point B. Therapists are great for helping you heal the past. There are a whole host of service providers in this world who are sharing their gifts so that you can share yours. Please, do yourself a favor and receive the support you need.

4. What’s one baby step you can take TODAY to reveal a little bit more of the thing you listed in the first step?

Maybe it’s as small as putting your idea on a post-it note so you can make it real, get it out of your head, and out in the world. Maybe it’s having a conversation or making an appointment. Maybe it’s whispering it out loud. Maybe it’s just turning on the radio and dancing in your living room. Whatever it is––do it.

5. Remember. You are loveable. No matter what. I promise.

Coming out from behind the curtain and changing up the status quo is scary. Our inner voices will rally against the unknown. Just remember, I know that you are bigger than what others can see on the surface and the stuff you think others can’t see or that you’ve been hiding for years––there are people that can see that, and they still love you. And guess what, whether or not they do, you are still loveable and a gift on this planet.

What are you and the great souls of this world missing out on by keeping yourself hidden?

In the comments below please let us know about a time when you pulled back the curtain, let others see you, and what resulted. We’d love to continue to support you on your journey:

PS: My pen name was Cecilia Leigh. 😉


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