A couple of weeks ago I made a commitment to myself to start learning again.

I don’t mean like typical sit in a classroom takes some tests kind of learning.

I wanted to start learning intentionally from people, experiences, conversations ect.

One of my goals was to become more engaged in community events. You know the things you see and think, “Hey, that could be interesting.” But then you don’t go because you convince yourself time on your couch scrolling through Instagram seems easier.

See, I have learned that what seems easier is usually what keeps us stuck. I can’t remember one instance where I picked the less risky option and felt great reward.

This leads me to last night. I went to this poetry event put on by Story (This wonderful organization that puts on wonderful events including a two day conference in September you should go to. . . trust me on this).

The event was titled “Fight Evil with Poetry.” I’ve always been kind of memorized while simultaneously rapidly anxious around spoken word poetry- so I had to go.

Not sure if your familiar with spoken word poetry (and I am NO expert) but it creates within me this adrenaline loaded experience where my mind splits in two parts. One feeling at ease and transcended that says simply, “wow this is amazing.” Then I have one half that more closely relates to my overall state of squireliness saying, “OMG I hope they don’t mess up. What is happening? How are they doing this? I hope they don’t mess up. Wait, this is incredible. Can I do anything this cool? I hope they don’t mess up.”

Anyway- that isn’t important. What is important is a lot of the words I heard during this event. In particular this string of them:

“A lot of people lead with beauty, don’t lead with beauty, lead with being honest.” Michah Bournes

Funny enough this was not even a line from one of the poems performed. It was an excerpt from a Q&A response at the end of the show. But what a courageous statement it is.

As someone who gets in the rink and wrestles daily with those struggling with their idea of what beauty means AND someone who continues to move forward on a path of self discovery around what it looks like to display authenticity this struck a couple cords.

You see I’ve learned a lot about what beauty is in the past 10 years- However, learning what it is not has been more enlightening.

Beauty is not the same thing to me as it is to you.

Beauty is not the path to worthiness.

Beauty is not how we find acceptance.

The only universal fact I have found about beauty is it is not a fact. Beauty is subjective.

This is why I loved what Micah said, “A lot of people lead with beauty, don’t lead with beauty, lead with being honest.”

No one can argue with your honesty. Your truth is a fact. You cannot argue with someone’s authenticity- it doesn’t work. It doesn’t make sense.

Until last night I never put these two ideas (beauty and honesty) in the same category.

Ugly isn’t the opposite of social norms of beauty; truth is. We can move around our whole lives trying to find what looks good. But like I said beauty is subjective and beauty changes. Institutional beauty is a lie that tells us we are not good enough.

Making Beauty the goal ends up telling us we are wrong.

Your truth though, your truth doesn’t fade. And no matter what my neighbor’s truth is- mine can stand firm.

Making TRUTH the goal ends up telling us we are right.

I like being right.

What could happen within us if we strived for what is beautiful less and what is honest more?

You see, striving for what is socially accepted as beautiful is the same choice we make when we decide to sit on the couch and scroll through Instagram instead of trying something new. Striving for beauty is the easy way out. Striving for beauty keeps us in a thorn invaded lie that we are safe.

Striving for honesty, now that can create some tension, that can get uncomfortable and that also will open up a household of windows to your own freedom.

When I set out to start learning again, I think this is just what I had in mind.

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