Stop Hiding

[The audio above is an accompaniment, not a reading of the words below. Click here if you can’t see the audio player.]

About 3 years ago, before I started writing publicly, I was in hiding.

Not Hollywood-style undercover special ops hiding.

A different kind of hiding. The kind of hiding you may very well be in right now.

I remember commenting on Chris Guillebeau’s website in the early days and spelling my name incorrectly (as well as not even using my last name). I was just Karl. I remember buying one of Chris’s first products and when I e-mailed him after purchasing I explained, “Good stuff! Been following your blog (and recently your twitter) for a short while. Commented on your blog recently (as Karl instead of my real spelling) … ”

That’s a direct quote from the e-mail I sent him on February 18, 2009. Since Chris is like me and archives everything I’ll bet he could verify this for you. I didn’t even send that e-mail from my real e-mail address. I sent it from a secondary account.

I remember feeling kind of dumb after sending that e-mail and thinking, “What am I hiding from?” I think I was hiding from my past. I didn’t want the people who knew me online before to know how much and how drastically I’d changed. I wanted my old Internet marketing days and my present life to be distinct and separated.

I thought catastrophe would strike if the worlds were to ever collide.

I few months went by and I thought, “Whatever, let’s do this!”

I launched on July 1, 2009 and have been trying to be more open, available, and public ever since. When I felt like I wasn’t staying true to that I shut that site down and started over here.

I see people who are trying to “make it” hiding every day. Here’s the truth: you won’t make it if you’re not honest with yourself, your friends, and your fans. And if you do make it while you’re hiding (aka lying) you won’t feel good about yourself.

Hiding is stressful. Stress kills.

I submit that we should:

  • Stop hiding from our employers.
  • Stop hiding from our Parents.
  • Stop hiding from our friends.
  • Stop hiding from our husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends.
  • Stop hiding from the new people we meet.
  • Most importantly, stop hiding from ourselves.

It’s a simple concept, and maybe it’s scary, but it feels good to stop fucking hiding.

21 Responses to Stop Hiding

  1. I *love* it..thank you! I *love* love love the audio!

    I believe in and practice transparency…while that doesn’t mean “spew” my stuff through my site, it does mean that my past (sailor girl and all!) is part of who I am and inspires me to create as I do *now*. People tend to hide due to this myth of “perfection”…and yes, the stress of striving for perfection manifests as illness and I lived that with two critical diagnoses (didn’t “learn” the first time, but I *got it* now!). So, I stepped out of that life, and I, too, dropped my previous site and created a new one. In doing so, one might say I stepped out of hiding…my heart and my creative expressions on the web, imperfections and all :) And, I live a very imperfectly, perfect life full of ample time, space, and energy to invest in everything.

    I noticed something different than you about friends and ‘support’…so many people are afraid to say I love you, thank you for this that you shared, wow you are doing an awesome job…because in general love allows more vulnerability than criticism and in general saying you f’d up is a lot easier for most than wow, awesome.

    I love this post, it affirms and inspires.. thank you…:)

    • Thank you Joy.

      “I live a very imperfectly, perfect life full of ample time, space, and energy to invest in everything.” – I like this.

      “I noticed something different than you about friends and ‘support’…” – I’m not sure what you’re referring to here. The section from the audio where I said I want people to tell me when I’m messing up because sometimes I can’t see it myself?

  2. Awesome – so well put. LOVE the audio!

    It is all about transparency. Thank you for being so transparent about transparency ;)

    But seriously, it IS about the attachment to some image of “perfection” – and that, in my estimation, causes more undue stress and dissatisfaction than almost anything else. I think it is about staying true to our Selves, without attachment to what we “should” be, but to who we legitimately are. We are so unique, each and every one of us. Yet we have bought into this idea of ”mass” – of the status quo. How uninteresting the world will become if we actually do all conform. Yet it is the fear of people seeing our ”errors” and our ”flaws” that drive this fear of letting our ”imperfections show” that sends us into hiding. I think, however, that when you are in hiding, you are preventing yourself from living fully and becoming the clearest, most shining example of the YOU that you are capable of becoming.

    I really like Joy’s comments as well.

    Thanks for posting this Karol – and thanks for the transparency you so frequently bring to the page. It is what makes you so darned interesting a read.

    That said – living transparently, coming out of hiding, is, I think, a big part of the “hero’s journey” – of the process of Becoming all that we are capable of. Ultimately, until we can come out of hiding, we cannot truly be excellent. We can be a mock-up of excellence, a fake outline of what excellence is, as defined by society, but only a shadow of true excellence.

    I think that ‘hiding’ leads to so much misery, for both ourselves and others.

    former shadow dweller, who loves living in the Light. I highly recommend coming out of hiding to all ;)

    • Thanks Laura.

      It’s true re: perfection. While it might seem like a noble goal, there doesn’t really seem to be much positivity that stems from it. I feel it’s better to focus on improving in whatever ways we feel are important for the sake of improvement, not for the sake of attaining an unattainable perfection.

      “Ultimately, until we can come out of hiding, we cannot truly be excellent.” – Agreed. Well put.

  3. This was my first time hearing your voice! It’s nice to put a picture and a voice to your name. :) So thanks for not hiding your voice!

  4. I’m still hiding my websites, cuz they suck. I’ll fix them so I don’t have to hide. I agree with you, Karol, that is best to be up front. Sexy voice. Nice. OO la la!

  5. Great to hear your voice again brother. I closed my eyes and imagined you were sitting across from me.

    I totally agree with the idea of this post. One of the first things I’ve learned in Martha Beck Life Coach training is TAO. Be Transparent, Authentic, and Open.

    I’ve been playing around with this radical honesty concept since SXSW and my relationships have deepened tenfold.

    When do we all get to see you again?

    • Radical honesty, in its true form, is a tough concept to grasp. But honesty in relation to how most of us live is quite radical. And I think that’s what you’ve been experiencing. I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be, but I try to catch myself when I’m holding back something I think is important.

      Come to Europa. I think some of the Wolveri family will be here in about a month. :)

      • First, I like what Mike spoke of, Transparent, Authentic, and Open. That said, Karol, the practice of Radical Honesty IS truly tough in its true form, but you are so right that honesty in relation to how most of us live is quite radical. It is tough, but it is also the path to greatness, from all I have seen and experienced.

        I myself was caught up in perfection – I was too pained to look at books I have had published, because all I could see was their imperfection. Now, I am pained to look back over my earlier works because it is painful to see that I made them so much less than what they could have been, because I was too focused on what others would think. I also (and I think this is a big thing for many of us women) wanted to be ‘nice’ and not ‘offend’ people. But the reality is, it is only once I started speaking my mind openly, and not caring what others thought, as opposed to some idea of ‘perfection’ or ‘who and how I should be’ that I found true success.

        And – there is also relief. Deep waves of stress were chased permanently away, it seems, once I surrendered any idea of trying to be anything other than who and what I am. And for me, for my journey, that meant coming out of hiding.

        Everything in my life is better for it. Yes ,there are times it is frightening, and times where it hurts a bit (I like to see it as growing pains). But overall, everything is better. And I feel somehow sturdier, clearer, more fully ME. Like I resonate more fully in the world, if that makes sense.

        Too, it has eliminated the need to be “defensive.” I am now unapologetic, unless I have truly done something to intentionally cause someone harm. If I have, then I own my error. But otherwise, there is this new-found strength in, “This is who and how I am, and I’m sorry if I’m not your cup of tea, but this is me.” There is peace in knowing that if someone is not a good fit for me, then we move onward and upward along our own paths ,no apologies, no remorse. And more importantly, it has infused me with a steady stream of confidence, where I feel “My life stands for itself. I have done some good things, I’ve made some major f-ups. But I have done the best I can at any given time, and my life stands for itself.”

        And that – right there – was my key to breaking free of perfection and the need to hide. I know that if I can say I honestly did my best, and was honest and up front about all, then I could not have done it any differently . All we can do at any given moment is the best we can with the information and experience we have IN THAT MOMENT. It is always so easy to beat ourselves up because we “could’ve, should’ve,’ would’ve” but the reality is, had we been able to do something differently, we would have done so. Cutting ourselves a break like that really helps in terms of not feeling the need to hide.

        That said – the people I love most are those who are real. Not perfect, but awesome in their authenticity. And I aspire, more with each passing day, to grow more fully into such a person.

        Karol, as always ,thank you for outstanding conversation.

        Create an amazing day for yourself!

  6. Hey Karol,

    What a huge topic! I really liked your audio recording. JD from Get Rich Slowly, asked people a few weeks ago why they didn’t share more about their income with others. The common thread was that people were afraid of being judged.
    In my life, that was my main motivator for hiding. I just didn’t want to deal with the judgement of others. As I get older, I care less and less about what others think because I’ve solidified my beliefs and values. That’s helped me ‘hide’ less. I’m working on being more transparent & more honest. Thanks for bringing this important topic up.
    ~ Peace,


    • Thanks Del, this is a good point and I think it gets to the root of it. We hide because we fear being judged. As I get older I care less as well.

  7. Hi Karol

    +1 for the audio =))

    I just want to let you know how much I always look forward to & appreciate the rawness/openness/authenticity of your essays. MOAR!


  8. Thanks for this, I’ve been thinking about online identities lately. There was an article on Slashdot about Youtube pushing people to use their Google Plus (real) name when commenting on videos, instead of their Youtube account name. Many of the comments were negative, saying that it’s a step away from privacy and some people are anonymous for a reason.

    In my case I used “Carl Blemming” as my youtube name only because when I created the account my real name was taken. I originally made the account so I could subscribe to other channels, so I figured it didn’t matter what the account name was.

    Then 2 years ago I started making my own videos, and have attracted a small audience. Without planning to, Carl Blemming seems to have evolved into a brand name. I already go by Robert on Twitter and a few blogs I have, but still use a pseudonym on Youtube. I’m considering starting over using my real name, but I may lose whatever value has been invested in the brand. I know, thats probably just an excuse :)

    • Interesting dilemma! Truth is, your Carl Blemming username only has 232 subscribers. While that’s great, it’s not enough to worry about changing the username. Most of the active subscribers will follow you to a new name.

  9. I found this website looking for ways to understand holding onto my dreams and how to concrete them. I have been chasing things that do not mean more than keeping my self from being bored. This website is amazing. One I have never typed on anything before and have always want to because I would like to share my ideas and see how they react to the world outside of my thoughts. The fear of my truth being swatted down has always pinched my mouth shut. I want to thank you Karol for putting this website up and giving me a chance to stretch and walk outside of my comfort zone. “You find comfort among those who agree; Growth among those who disagree” In this moment an idea has struck me that would work to make a living suitable for the lifestyle I would like to live. Thank you again Karol.

Leave a reply