Most of the folks I get the privilege to work with every day identify as creatives. We’re storytellers. Mostly actors. Many writers. Some directors and showrunners and even a few non-showbiz creatives too!
We take what happens in life — and in our minds, in our dreams, in our wildest ideas and imaginations — and turn it all into art for others to consume. We take emotions others get overwhelmed by and we make meaning out of them. We tell stories.
One of the things we all have in common (keep in mind I’ve not spoken with 100% of you reading these words, so “all” means “pretty much everyone I’ve ever spoken with about this topic in particular”) is a fun little way in which we were labeled, growing up.
Specifically, we probably heard the phrase: “You’re too sensitive!”
Maybe “Ugh! You’re so dramatic!” (always said *quite* dramatically, come to think of it). Or “Butch up!” or some other really snide remark about how we were being pansy-assed or candy-assed or needed to put on some big-girl panties or whatever obnoxiousness they seemed to think was appropriate to say.
Look, we’re *all* digging out from patriarchal programming and learning just how toxic so much of the messaging we’ve been bombarded by — especially when it comes to what’s expected of us, what we’re “supposed to” be in life, or how success is defined — happens to be. I get that. And I give our bullies room for that.
But just for a moment, think about how different things would be if we were never made to feel WRONG about who we are, how we self-express, how we interpret what it is that moves through us as emotions. Imagine what our lives would be like if we were taught how to MANAGE the gift of our sensitivity. If we were guided through the conditions under which our emotions were best shared. If we were shown healthy boundaries for all the things we happen to pick up, as creative storytellers. As sensitive critters. As empaths.
What if our superpowers had been sharpened, honed, appreciated, and treasured rather than feared, silenced, belittled, and shut down?
What if — even though we were brought up by people who generally were just doing the best that they could — they experienced any CONTRAST in our childhood (meaning, our very-different-from-their-own-setpoint of creativity would do its thing, express, bubble up, show itself fully, even at inconvenient times) as AFGO instead of as a threat, requiring that they shut it all down?
AFGO is, as you may have already figured out, Another Fucking Growth Opportunity. It’s something I say when I’m going through something I may not enjoy all that much.
Instead of pushing it away, turning my back on it, trying NOT to feel the feelings, or labeling the other party in the exchange as wrong and not worth engaging with, I take a breath and remind myself that I’m facing AFGO and it’s up to me what to do with that opportunity.
In general, I like to grow when I’m given the opportunity to do so.
If you’re faced with someone’s “otherness” in a way that feels confronting to you, I’m not asking you to go through pop-up therapy right that second. That’s a lot. Just — for now — label what you’re experiencing as AFGO, take another breath, and consider that you can ease your response and maybe change a life (yours, theirs, maybe everyone’s) at the same time.
Share with me in the comments below how you can use the AFGO label to help buffer some experiences that may be really beautiful opportunities.
And hey, if you were ever told you’re TOO MUCH for the way you creatively express in the world? Please let me tell you — even if we’ve never met — I know for sure that’s a damn lie and you’re so exactly right in showing the world the way your storytelling brilliance bubbles up from within and beyond and through you.
Your enoughness is glorious.
All my ninja love,