I love people. I love feeling connected to them, I love hearing about their life story, I love inviting them to share. Ever since I was little, I have had this burst of energy inside of me when connecting and sharing with people.
When I was young, getting excited about connecting meant talking to friends at recess, as a teenager it meant spending long hours on the phone, as a young adult, it evolved into a career as a TV reporter where I got to talk and share and hear people's stories all day long and get paid for it too!
Fast forward to today's digital age in which so much of my communication is through email and text and Facebook and Twitter. I have to write everything I feel into a line or two. This is hard for me! I can't help it. I always have a lot to say.
So how do I express all of my excitement, enthusiasm, and burst of energy from inside in a sentence or two? With an exclamation mark of course! When I use an exclamation mark, I'm expressing my enthusiasm for whatever I'm writing and my excitement to connect with you.
A few months ago, I started questioning my exclamation marks. Within the time span of about a month, I read about four different unrelated articles, books, etc. talking about how unprofessional it is to use exclamation marks. Four times in a month felt like something I needed to listen to so I started doubting my exclamation marks. I decided to cut down on them.
What was the result? It just felt awkward. Did my "thank you" instead of Thx! sound rude? Did my "hello" instead of "Hi!" really let them know how excited I was to connect with them? Did my son's math tutor think I was mad at her for running a little late when I responded with a flat "That's okay." ?
I felt stifled. I felt like I wasn't being me.
My Authentic Self.
So here's the reason for a long blog entry over an exclamation mark: After a a few weeks of feeling awkward, I realized I was doing exactly what I encourage people NOT to do in my book: spending time and energy trying to be more or less than who you are created to be. I realized, I need to be my authentic self and stop wondering what others will think! (yes I mean"!!!!!") I'm keeping my "!!!!!" I'm excited! I want to share! And when I say Hello, I'm really thinking Hi! I want to know how you are doing! That's just the way I am and I thank God for who I am. He created me to be this super emotional person that lives to connect with others.
I know. Spending time thinking about whether I should use an exclamation mark is kind of funny, but it's an example of the everyday things you may question about yourself.
Please share your experience.
What's the exclamation mark in your life? What is the one thing about you that is authentically you that you often doubt about yourself because you're wondering if it's too silly, too unprofessional, too different? Do you find yourself asking, "What will people think if I do this?" "What will people think if I say that?" What are the personality traits about yourself that you love? Do you appreciate them and thank God for all that He created in you?
There's an amazing amount of freedom and peace that comes from growing into and living out of your authentic self: the person God created you to be. It is a life-long process but it is worth the journey. As I write in my Retreat, Reflect, Renew book, "God created you and He is the Spirit residing within you. The more you grow into your authentic self, the more you will grow in your acceptance of God and in your relationship with Him. Your authentic self is exactly where Christ's spirit is shining within you and trying to work through you." I find that the more I connect with my authentic self (even in these small, exclamation mark kinds of ways) the more I feel connected to God within me and the more I am collaborating with Christ's spirit in my daily routine. The more I am connected to this feeling, the more I feel peace and joy in all that I am and all that God is continually creating me to be. I mean... to be!!!!!!
I really want to hear what you think about this. Please comment and share below. (I mean... please share! and comment below! I'm excited to hear from you!)