The Importance of Showing Up
By Linda Walker, JD, MSW, LCSW
I asked a client once what her greatest strength was. She paused, thought for a few moments, and replied, “I show up.” I was taken by surprise and asked her to tell me more about that. She proceeded to describe how she is always there for people. She shows up when they need her, good times and bad.
Over the years I have often thought about what she said. It seems like a simple thing, just to “show up.” How can that be someone’s greatest strength? But maybe, in fact, it’s not that simple. Sometimes, showing up takes sacrifice. When a friend’s mom died, Jane drove in a snow storm for over an hour to get to the funeral, before going to work and then leaving town the next day. It wasn’t convenient, but she wanted to be there for her friend. Jane didn’t have a chance even to speak to her friend, but her friend knew Jane was there, and later said she would always remember Jane’s kindness.
Sometimes, showing up takes courage. As a therapist, I have had the joy of watching clients transform as they work through their traumas, grief, regrets and insecurities. The change can be remarkable. But the process of showing up for therapy, week after week, requires a brave and dedicated spirit. Some weeks, therapy can be very intense; other weeks, it may seem pointless. The clients who show up, week after week, experience growth through the process of being available to themselves, in that therapy room. By showing up, they give witness to their own self-worth.
Showing up takes commitment, too. Does your mother expect you to call her more than you want? Maybe you hate going to family get-togethers. Or, you are secretly sick and tired of going to your child’s soccer games. On a scale of fun things to do, these examples might not be high on your list. Your mother is depressed; the family gathering bores you; it’s cold and wet at the soccer game. Showing up requires a willingness to put something else ahead of your own immediate gratification, sometimes with no overt reward. Showing up in these situations is, nevertheless, important, sometimes crucial. Humans are made to be in connection with each other. The nature of our interactions with each other is probably less critical than the simple fact of being there for one another, of showing up.
Show up. It might change your life.