15 August 2016


The other night, Jason was watching Naked and Afraid. If you haven't seen it, it's on the Discovery Channel and, basically, two people are sent to the middle of nowhere with no food, no water, no clothes, and are expected to survive for 21 days.

I hadn't seen it before and I didn't have much else to do, so I watched with him. By watch, I mean I also provided commentary; largely, commentary in the form of questions.

Like, what do they win? Nothing. There's no prize.

Why are they doing this? To prove they can.

Why wouldn't they bring sunscreen as their one item? Or a wetsuit? No answer.

Seriously, why would anyone do this? My husband would.

The show bothered me from the beginning, but I couldn't quite pin down why. Okay, wildlife, for one, but it was more than that.

I know that the name of the show is intended to draw attention. The nudity doesn't bother me. Being naked around another person would be the least of my worries when I'm trying to survive three weeks in the wilderness that is fraught with wildlife.

The show made me uneasy, and that feeling only grew the more I watched. It was the feeling I get when I think about being in the ocean, or space. See also: why I cannot sleep without a blanket over me.

I realized it wasn't that the people on the show were naked that bothered me, but it was. It was the fact that they were naked and, for lack of a better word, exposed. They were vulnerable to insects, sunburn, and likely to sustain injuries that even a thin layer of clothing would prevent.

Would I have felt less nervous had they been wearing clothes? Maybe. But then they were still sleeping out in the open (with jackals roaming, mind you), wandering around, and swimming freely in dangerous waters.

I'm not at all claustrophobic. It's open spaces that get to me, be they an entire ocean or my bed without covers. Seeing these people in such a vulnerable state made me feel ridiculously anxious.

And yet- I think there is power in exposing our emotions. There is strength in being bare and authentic, both with ourselves and with others.

Being true to yourself and thus, being your true self, can be scary. Embracing our differences and our faults is sometimes contradictory to what we've been taught whether through lessons spoken outright or absorbed as the norm through our interactions with others.

It takes little effort to maintain the status quo. There can be comfort in the absence of being challenged, but at what cost?

Are you willing to risk being a lesser, safer version of yourself so that others might feel more comfortable? Are you willing to keep your thoughts and convictions to yourself because sharing them might cost relationships?

What about the very real change that could come from acting on what you know in your heart to be true?

What about those who are waiting for someone to speak up so that they can say, "Me, too," ?

The people that I am most inspired by are those who are unapologetically themselves. Though, the purpose in being yourself should not be solely to benefit others.

You should be yourself, in all your raw emotions, rough edges, and opinions, because that is who you are called to be.

If we listen to what is in our heart, and allow ourselves and our actions to openly align with that, we set forth the transformation to be our best selves.

We might not find that our purpose leads us to be one of the Malalas, Nelson Mandelas, or Rosa Parkses of the world. But then, what if we consider that each of their impact came from knowing their purpose was to be their true selves?

I have no desire to be exposed to the elements, naked and afraid for twenty-one days. I have every aspiration to be myself- genuine, bare, strong, and true.

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