It’s hard to be honest, and it’s really hard to be honest about hard stuff.
So much so that most people just aren’t honest at all.
When I realized this, I kind of gave up on people, and definitely stopped believing anything they told me. Until I found a link to an article where the author did the hard stuff, hit the hard topics, wrote the truest truths I’d ever heard. It spoke to my soul so deeply that I almost forgot I didn’t write it myself. And then I discovered that this article was part of a whole site where other people are doing the same, and I couldn’t help but think:
They get it. They get me.
Sometimes, that’s enough. Sometimes that’s all we need: to be understood, truly and deeply, to connect to people from anywhere and everywhere about anything and everything. To read or write or speak genuine, mindful ideas or thoughts or feelings that actually matter because they are so true.
I started to follow the website, immediately signing up and indulging in a long weekend of devouring elephant journal articles, reveling in the apparent clairvoyance of the authors who seemed to be reading me in return. I wanted to be a part of their community, to jump the barricade and live inside the world of the website.
Then one day, they opened the gate.
I read that elephant journal was offering an internship in writing, editing, and social media and stopped everything else in my life until I completed the application.
When the internship started, I was swept up into a group that got me, that understood me without my explaining, and with their help, I learned to be honest and connect to people more than I ever thought I could.
I’ve always considered myself a loner, prided myself on my independence and my ability to fly solo. But among my fellow apprentices, I found a community full of people like me, who cared about each other, about all people, about life and love. I felt that I was a part of something bigger, something important, something that really mattered. Being by myself is still wonderful, but now I know the energy and strength that comes from being one among others.
Once we feel we are not alone, that it’s okay for us to be us, we can start to shine and share our brightness to illuminate ourselves as well as those around us.
During this internship, I realized that this life, these every day comings and goings, are all about connections, about finding our tribe, about meeting people who understand. It’s about words that find a part of us that we didn’t know existed, and then settle down to stay, to become a part of us. I’ve learned that a website can be so much more than just a website.
I expected to learn about ways to improve my writing, edit articles, and how to promote those articles, and I definitely have. But what I did not expect was how much I learned about being human.
I’ve learned that sometimes we need to face our fears and expose our weakness, that it’s okay to be vulnerable. That the best words are often times the simplest. That when we truly open our hearts, they won’t always be broken; and even if they are, it’s worth the risk.
I’ve found that the more we are able to connect to others, the easier it becomes to be completely, absolutely, unapologetically ourselves. But, that doesn’t mean it’s all about you. Sometimes we dance on stage; sometimes we’re back in the shadows. Sometimes we need to learn some new moves, and sometimes we twirl a perfect pirouette and no one sees. We all get our solos at some point, we all find a rhythm if we just keep moving and stay true to who we are.
From my fellow apprentices and their powerful stories, I learned about the complex beauty of the human soul, each in some ways as unique as a fingerprint, while in others so much the same, and about how we can feel that sameness through words. Through shared stories and attempted explanations of intangible emotions. I realized the significance of a phrase, a comma, a sentence, or a space. I learned to appreciate each and every word I read and write because of the work that I now understand lies behind them.
Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned from this internship that people can change, because I have. It’s rare that we evolve quickly enough to feel the alterations, but with each passing week, I sensed tiny differences in the way I lived. The mindful life changed my mind about life. I notice the world around me more: the way a smile can change a person’s face, the sense of camaraderie in a quiet coffee shop, how one simple quote can set the mood for a whole day. Over the course of the internship I’ve learned to slow down, to think, to reflect and to live in the moment, and then to share that moment through words so that it can spread and reach others, so that moment becomes more than just a passing instance.
I’ve learned to be careful but brave, to be simple but genuine, and to be honest but fair.
I’ll walk away from this internship with a full mind and a full heart, ready to read and write and think and live a little bit better each day.
Author: Gabriella Sweezey
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Charlotte Astrid