Sharing your gifts: I am more than autism

For the past few months I have been to conferences, listened to podcasts and seen Instagram posts talking about sharing our gifts with the world. Some people actually see it as our natural born duty - to share our gifts with the world. I held the thought that a gift was akin to a passion but after further analysis I might have been wrong. I then asked myself the question once an individual knows what their gift is what then is the best way to share it? Is it merely showing up on social media with pictures of our weight loss journey, our travels or pictures of where we spent our Saturday night (because we love dancing). It’s one of those concepts I understood but not fully. You want me to share my gifts? You want me to share of myself but maybe I am not sure what that gift is – after all I am not a pro-athlete, a gifted dancer, artist or musician and I haven’t made a scientific discovery. Those who preach we should be sharing our gifts believe we all have one. Really?!

This idea has been stewing in my head for quite some time. The question I ask myself is what is my gift? Sure there are lots of things I enjoy and in fact I do share them on social media quite a bit but am I sharing my gift? I still think I might be missing the mark. Obviously, if some people have founded a companies and have turned them into a multi-million-dollar industry based upon preaching this gospel then there must be something to it. I would say Tony Robbins is one of the originals and mentor to many.

Is a gift a passion, or is a passion a gift – neither or both? I have spent my life looking for a passion. Actually when I was younger I waited for a passion. I thought it might be something you acquire with time. For the longest time, one never came and I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. Only people who succeed are driven by a passion. Therefore, if I equate having this gift I should share with the world it feels the same to me as having a passion and sharing it. Then with the emerging social media platforms it was as though everyone had a passion. When I took a closer look I realized people are not sharing their passion they are merely sharing their lives. A passion is a “driver” of your being. A passion is something that you love experiencing and share with the hopes that it might inspire. A passion feels like an obsession, that thing you can’t live without. So sharing your gift doesn’t mean to inundate everyone by talking endlessly about something you do but rather “the thing” you have that sparks true inspiration. What I mean is that a gift is something that ignites something in the people around you. It makes them stop and think hey if she can do it then I can to. In essence a gift is only a gift if it is shared in a genuine way not merely in self interest but in a way that moves others. It is as though the signal you are putting out comes from within you – something that it is part of you. Does that make sense?

I love that saying if you don’t show it on Instagram then it never really happened. That concept makes me laugh and I feel sad for those who adhere to this belief. Actually I believe social media or any platform can be a useful tool for many things. I am both a big consumer and content creator of social media but in a way that fills me up rather than weigh me down. I follow an array of individuals that are sharing their gifts with me rather than merely showing me- think Rachel Hollis and Lewis Howes. The back story is sometimes when you know the person well and consume their content you can filter truth versus story – curated versus real. I say those who are negative about social media want to believe we are on it to sell the best versions of ourselves rather than tell the truth. For some that may be true but you cannot lump everyone together. I firmly believe that how you show up on social media is a direct reflection of your values and who you are at the core of your being. I like to think that we have the competency to ween out what is genuine – even on the gram. In the end you will attract what you are.

I have to thank Mark Zuckerberg for creating Facebook because that tool helped me build a community interested in helping families living with autism. I created a charitable organization and I truly believe without social media we couldn’t have built the community we have today. It allows us to advertise our events, share our programming and open a whole conversation about autism. With Facebook we have access to FREE advertising and have the capacity to reach interested individuals. Zuckerberg gifted his passion for programming and look how that changed the world. Incredible!

So do we all have a gift? I believe the answer is yes. I think it’s something in life that moves you in a way that brings you such joy that you have to share it with others. There is a problem here! A lot of extraverts have no problem sharing their gifts with others but what about the introverts who don’t like using social media as a platform? I would say it’s not the way for everyone. So if you have a crazy passion for cooking and you invite people over to share a meal then you are sharing your gifts. If you are an avid reader or like to knit then start a club. The success isn’t in how many people get to benefit from your gifts the important thing is that you share it and it brings you unadulterated joy – that is sharing your gifts.

My husband always said he didn’t feel something was worth experiencing unless it was shared. He said that in the context of when he was somewhere enjoying the moment he knew the experience would be magnified if I was with him. Sharing makes whatever gift or experience we have more enriching. Ultimately, we get to choose who we share our gift(s) with. I am equal parts extravert and introvert so for every moment I share with others I need to balance that out with time spent alone. I was born wanting to share! As a little girl every time my parents had guests over for a few cocktails I insisted on performing. They would try to scurry me off to bed but I wouldn’t have it! I insisted they let me sing one song for the guests before I went to bed. Picture it, 5-year-old Audrey standing in a door way, her make believe stage - swaying back and forth, side to side, in a full length flannel night gown. Although I couldn’t sing it was my passion!!! Growing up I wanted to be a singer but never found my voice. It wasn’t until later in life I would find my voice in a different way.

For a good chunk of my life I felt somewhat lost, besides from wanting to be a singer (something I never pursued but always dreamed of) I never found a passion – that thing I could talk about for hours. It’s like finding that boyfriend – when you’re actively looking you can’t find him and once you give up voila you find love. Finding my passion was the same. I stopped looking thinking this is my life – a passionless life. Then I discovered running. I started to run to deal with the overwhelming reality of raising a child with level 3 autism. The more I ran the deeper I fell in love. Just because it was my passion I didn’t see how it was a gift worth sharing.

How would sharing my passion inspire others? Anyways that wasn’t even a thought of mine – at the time all I knew is every time I laced up to run I felt more alive then ever. What happened was running became part of my identity. I was Audrey; wife, mother and runner. How could my passion be my gift to share? Hmmmmm. I have to tell you I didn’t craft or curate this it just happened.

I love everything about running and being a runner. If given the opportunity I could talk to an interested party for hours on the topic. My gift has never been running but rather having the courage to share that part of me with others. To show people everywhere that if they truly wanted to run they could. I wanted to tell the story of how it all began. Keyan was the catalyst for my running journey and I stumbled upon something that gave me time to myself. In sharing my journey of how I became a runner, an organizer of a running event and a participant in the coveted Boston Marathon, I discovered my true gift. The gift was me merely sharing my journey in hopes to inspire. My gift has never been a talent I hone but merely the fact that I share. I share of myself truly, sincerely and with the intention to share rather than to show. I share without fear of judgement because it comes from a genuine part of me.

Last night, sitting in a jazz club I watched the saxophonist play a solo that I know took up an extreme amount of energy. It was mesmerizing. Here was this 60 something year old gentleman playing a song from 30 years ago with the same intensity as his younger self. I was consumed by the thought of him standing there sharing his gift. His gift of music and his passion to share it with others. There are many musicians playing at home but to get up on stage to share it with us that is the gift! In essence it hit me, it is not what you do with your life it is how you share it. So whatever is meaningful to you that is your gift to share and ultimately you get to decide with who and how you share it.

For me my gifts are sharing my life as a means to educate people on what it means to live with autism, advocate for the autism community, show how as a woman I can still follow my own dreams and share how I show up in the world for my family (who is everything to me). My gift is sharing in hopes to be the change I want to see in this world. Whatever your gifts are I hope to be someone to share it with you.

© 2018 Audrey Burt

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