vulnerability and trust

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My intention when I started writing this blog again was not to filter myself. I wanted to write about everything: success, failure, good, bad, fears, hopes, dreams, devastation.

In keeping with that intention, i’ve shared some deep things here. I’ve talked about my anxiety, about some of my deepest fears, about what it feels like to fail, about making mistakes and taking leaps.

When I get really personal in my blog posts, something kind of interesting happens: the number of people who visit my blog skyrockets. Just to be clear: “skyrockets” is a totally relative term. most blog posts of mine get, tops, 15 visitors. When I write about the deep stuff, I’d say I get more than 150.

Which is pretty scary. It’s scary to look at the stats on my blog and see that many people have now read some of my deepest, darkest thoughts. It’s scary to know that I am on display — and that i put myself there! And while several of you have written me to thank me for writing about some of these topics, I can’t seem to help sometimes getting wrapped up in the idea that maybe some of you are judging me, pitying me, putting me in the category of “whack job.” It’s disconcerting, and it makes me nervous about sharing.

But, every time I find myself thinking this way, I eventually get back to the headspace where I remember that that feeling, that nervousness — it’s the whole point that I’m so focused on being genuine and vulnerable here. I feel nervous about sharing the messy stuff because the world doesn’t always feel like the safest place. I feel nervous because I fear that i’ll be cast aside once I lay all my imperfections out there. And I don’t think I’m alone in this nervousness. I think a lot of us feel it. And as I see it, the only way to change this is to talk about the “bad” more. To make talking about the “bad” stuff normal and accepted and expected, instead of scary and shameful.

Why do I think putting our most genuine selves out there is important?

Well, I guess I kind of view the world like one giant cocktail party in which we all think we’re the host: We put on our best clothes. We do our hair and make up. We clean the house. We make sure everyone is on their best behavior. We make a delicious meal. We pair it with the perfect wine. We are the perfect host. And our guests, man, they are perfect too. They are dressed to the nines. They bring a fancy wine as a party gift. They talk all about their new responsibilities at work. How fantastic their last vacation was. How wonderful life is.

And I know I’m being hyperbolic, that the whole world isn’t always like this, but, on a whole, I think it’s an okay comparison. We put up walls. We put on masks. Your house, that dinner, your family, those guests — it isn’t real. The children aren’t that well-behaved. You don’t usually look that put together. The dirt and grime will build up again tomorrow. But, nevertheless, you and your guests participate in the sham. It seems rude not to. You do such a good job pretending that both of you start to wonder…maybe the other isn’t actually putting on a sham? Maybe their life really is that good? Maybe they really are that smart/put together/kind/pretty/calm? Both host and guest end up feeling like they’ll never live up to that kind of perfection, like there’s something wrong with them because they’re not as perfect as the other, that they should be ashamed of their imperfections, hide them better.

How much effort it takes, to pretend to be what we’re not! How scary it is to worry that someone might find out our secrets — that our biggest fear is being unlovable or that our marriage isn’t so great after all or that we worry our children will hate us?  It’s exhausting to pretend!

But if we’re open about who we are — about our messiness and imperfections — then there’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing to hide. There’s no secrets to keep safe. If we could just be ourselves, imagine how liberating that would feel. What a deep breath we could take. Imagine the togetherness, the safety, we would feel if we knew that when we shared our “secrets” we’d be accepted, no questions asked. Imagine the kinds of issues we could tackle if shame wasn’t attached to them — depression, anxiety, abuse, self hate. And so many more.

On this blog, I put myself out there in the belief that change starts with a single person. That making the world a safer place can start with each one of us.  So even when it’s scary to write about the deep stuff, I do it anyway and I do my best to ignore that it scares me. I make myself vulnerable to you. I leave myself open to your criticism. I trust that you’ll love me anyway. Thanks for showing me so far that I’ve been right.

If we all just come as we are, i think the world will start feeling safer. I think we’ll realize that we’re all doing our best, that none of us are perfect, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. That we’re not alone.

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