The Simply Show Up Life

Photo courtesy of

“But I don’t do anything really. I just show up.”
Ahyana, I think that’s it. You show up. Things happen when people show up. Things happen when you show up,” she said.

I didn’t know there was anything to showing up really. I just thought that’s what you do in life. I just thought that you get up, get yourself together, and show up. Whether it’s work, or breakfast,  a day at the museum, a workshop, yoga, babysitting your no need for a nap nephew, meandering through the city in and out of your favorite boutiques, etc., you bring it. You bring you. I bring me.

She, my counselor, was right. Things do happen when I show up. In those instances where I have deemed myself enough and worthy of the occasion, Sunday brunch or Saturday babysitting, I show up and people are drawn to that, respect that, engage that. Correction. People are drawn to me, respect me, and engage me. Other people also show up. Other people who know how to show up, how to be present, how to fully engage you in a way that shows they are aware of their worthiness and yours show up.

A few weeks ago I got to show up on a green and white shuttle with about 18 other people not long after my plane touched down in Indianapolis. I managed a seat near the font of the shuttle by the window and was soon asked by a very attractive young man if he could sit next to me. I oh so cooly nodded yes, sent up a prayer for my sunglasses to shade my smiling eyes, and we chatted it up for the less than 20 minute shuttle ride, finding out we were both headed to the same conference. We arrived at the hotel complex where our conference was to be held, smiled, expressed expectation to see each other at some point during the week,  and parted ways.

A few days later when I  decided to show up at A food truck…that attractive young man decided similarly. We both showed up and what happened in that moment and the hours and days to follow was pretty fantastic. The conversation, the banter, the laughter, the observations of thoughtfulness, compassion, and authenticity as we walked and talked throughout downtown Indianapolis.  Oh, and there was  honesty that came mid conversation from him later that evening in the form of “I just want to say I am really attracted to you. I’m not usually good at giving signals or reading them. Is it mutual? Did I just make this awkward?” I laughed, assured him he didn’t make it awkward, and shared I wish more men were as direct as he was.

Photo courtesy of Jean Antonelli via

I didn’t do anything other than be the liberated version of myself on a shuttle and again in a food truck line in. I didn’t color, straighten, curl, or cut my hair. I didn’t eat less and work out more. I didn’t buy a new dress, pair of shoes, pants, or a new bag. I didn’t scour the internet for a new job to apply to in hopes that getting the job, whether I really wanted it or not, would prove how valuable I am in my profession. I didn’t text or call any of the guys that are fun to flirt with but I am so not attracted to and have proven time and time again they have no idea what it means to show up.

I was natural curly hair, simple blue dress, flat sandals, minimal makeup, fluff free opinion sharing, super corny joke providing, letting my inner foodie out, indulging my inquisitive side, this is Ahyana like, love if you dare, respect and value me, or leave me alone self. It was….awesome. I don’t get to be her often. Do over. I don’t allow myself to be her often. Mostly because I’ve still got a few people in my life with whom I interact with with some degree of frequency who have absolutely no idea what to do with her, (me). So instead she, (me) is often told she is “too” something or other or there are attempts to either manipulate, control, or exploit whatever I am “too” much of. So I hide her. I protect her. Although I have been working harder lately to let her, me, show up despite what a good amount of folks have to say or attempt to do, when I travel I let her out without hesitation and I show up. Why do yall think I am out and about so much?

Photo and quote courtesy of Brook Castillo.

Here’s what else happened when I showed up with the young man. I got to to learn about him. Sometimes I think that’s the best part about showing up. The validation of being you in all your you-ness is sweet as pie, but when it allows for someone to do the same and share who the are, that’s sweet as pie al a mode. We talked about his family, his dropping out of high school and going to an alternative high school  and then the decision to go back to school and start college. We talked about cooking and how his mom who is in Taiwan at the present time is an amazing cook, him not so much, but he can follow a recipe. We talked about the challenges in our education system hr in the US and how he is conflicted between going to school for education or sticking with the path he initially started, engineering. We talked about race and ethnicity and the challenges the US has had with his and mine. We talked about traveling and how he has traveled more times to various countries internationally than he has traveled anywhere in the US.

I can’t say with 100% certainty that  me showing up and just being my authentic self  made him, Max, do the same. But as any college graduate can say, I believe there was a strong correlation, between me showing up and thus encouraging him to do the same. Not only did I learn about him, Max showing up made me even more convinced there is power in bringing ourselves, not our roles, job titles, bank accounts, Louboutins or Louis Vuittons, maxi or mini dresses, BMW’s or bus passes.

Photo courtesy of Lindsay of Darling

I think sometimes in an effort to LIVE, especially those times when LIVE-ing requires us to put on a brave face, we forget to take off that face. We forget to remove the mask. We forget to get back to curly hair, simple blue dresses, flat sandals, corny jokes, feeding the foodie, asking questions, and speaking unabashedly. We become so unaccustomed to showing that I think we get scared to do so. We consider it, go to remove the mask, and find out that it’s started to mesh with our face, with who we are and who we sometimes choose to pretend (for whatever reason) to be.  I think we worry that no one  else will show up and accept us as we’ve shown up, let alone engage and be attracted to us.

Well, I am here to tell you that people do show up up when you, the real you, shows up. There are people are capable of seeing you, being attracted to you, respecting, and engaging you. There are people capable of showing up and sharing themselves with you as well. Let me warn you, especially if they are attractive, you may find yourself even more attracted to them and putting in a little more effort to listen and focus. I’m just saying.

Quote courtesy of Brene Brown

Here’s the deal. This week-show up. No hiding. No excuses. No operating at anything less than 100% and no buying anything that cost $100.00. You don’t need it. You just need yourself, the self that is worthy and enough. You, are worthy and enough. You and your frizzy hair or fine hair, 130 pounds or 230 pounds, long hair or pixie cut, McDonald’s franchise owner or late shift french fryer, divorced or 57 and never married, married with kids or without, with kids and never married- are enough and worth showing up.

Now, you may not meet a Max or a Maxine and that’s okay. It’s not about showing up to make someone else see that you have shown up. However it’s really hard for anyone to see you, your perfectly imperfect mistake making still figuring out this thing called life self, if you don’t show up. Happy showing up! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Frederick M. Brown for Getty Images

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