On witnessing as an essential part of healing.
In just over a month I turn 30 and I want to do something significant to honour crossing this threshold. Not only does it mark the beginning of a new decade, it also marks the end of one—and I am holding both in my mouth as I move towards the next chapter of my life. My 20s were dedicated to healing and exploration; my 30s will be devoted to sharing the learnings that the past 10 years have allowed for. With this shift from student to mentor-student, comes a deep desire to feel a part of a community. To experience impact on the ground in the spaces and places I occupy and with humans who are close enough to touch, whether through open arms or a more digital embrace. I want to belong and in belonging be able to engage in the power of witnessing as an essential part of transformation and growth. In the case of my upcoming birthday, I need my people to bear witness to this metamorphosis. Yes, on the day and also in the year that follows. You see, witnessing is not a singular event; it is a process that unfolds and continues to hold us until the time comes for us to be the witnesses.
With every new stage of life comes an individual and universal need to be seen, acknowledged and honoured for who we are in the moment and who it is we are becoming. In this process of expressing our full potential, community and connection show up as integral parts of how we embody our full selves as humans and lovers and artists and healers and mentors and students. So we must bear witness. To ourselves. To each other. To the collective. This realization has illuminated the ways that I have sought out witnessing throughout the past decade. It is only now, however, that I am able to identify and articulate my need for collective witnessing. I spent so long feeling isolated and determined to do this self work on my own that I couldn’t imagine allowing others to support me in this change process and certainly not a group of individuals. Upon further reflection, I see how I did have guides and teachers and peers bearing witness to the growth I was experiencing in my 20s. I just didn’t know how to ask for it nor did I know how to create the community that I had subconsciously been seeking.
When I look through this lens at the work I am beginning to do as a writer and Integral Coach, I see witnessing as a vital component of deep and sustainable transformation. This extends far beyond simply accountability. It’s a collective agreement that things are different now; that a change has taken place and that a new way has come into being. If you feel into this idea for a moment you will sense how different it is to do the work alone versus have your growth seen and honoured by people whom you respect and who love you in return. Your community. Which might feel like something you don’t have access to. Or maybe your belonging feels disjointed and spread across various individuals who are seemingly disconnected from one another. This is valid and, at the same time, calls for you to bring together the collective that you need to bear witness to your change. Which might feel impossible from where you sit right now. I get that. I also see how we must persist in figuring out—together—how to meet this crucial need.
As we change, so will the collectives that are able to witness our transformations in the ways that we need them to. The same thing applies when we become witnesses. Which is why it is so important to seek out—and create—those groups that are able to meet you in your world. Acknowledgement isn’t enough; the source of the witnessing you need matters greatly. It is not that you must be ushered into change by those who have walked a similar path to yours. Just that you need to be seen by those who can appreciate the shifts you’re experiencing. Humans who can shine a light on your ways of being as you include and transcend your current way and embody your new way. And, while we must be the ones to cross the threshold when it is time, we don’t have to do in the quiet and dark of solitude. The healing of the individual is the healing of the collective; there is reciprocity for both the witness and the one who is being witnessed. We were never meant to do this work on our own.
So this brings us to today, love. Me meditating on what I want my rite of passage into my thirties to feel like a month from now when I ask my people to bear witness to this crossing. And you? Where are you in your change process and in feeling like you can access the community you so need to see and honour you? Are you stuck in the narrative that self-work is something that only counts if you do it by yourself? Or is it a feeling of disconnection—from yourself, from your purpose, from your people—that makes being a part of a collective seem out of reach?
I want you to feel like you belong. I want you to experience—as I have—the transformative potential of having others bear witness to your process of becoming. It matters. So talk to me.