There’s a sign in my kitchen that reads “Today’s Menu – Take It or Leave It”. I’ve had that sign for 10 years. I’ve always thought it was cute. This morning, I read it differently. I started to think about how funny it is that I have this sign, and yet that’s not how I live my life. If I make you pancakes and you want eggs, of course I’m going to make some eggs. That’s been my frame of mind in nearly every aspect of my life. I’m not a “take it or leave it” type girl. I’m the “take it and please love it” type.
But here’s the kicker. I don’t want anyone to see that I’m this way, to think that I am “weak” or just a “people pleaser” so I will hide that from you. My fear of being seen for who I really am has always been greater than wanting to actually be free from it. This is where emotional vulnerability comes in.
I’ve been hurt. Who hasn’t? Fear of being hurt again occupies so much space in my mind and my heart. I think the worst. I have sabotaged relationships to avoid being the one who gets hurt, even though everything was going great. It was going TOO great and I knew I’d end up hurt one day, so up goes my wall. I will do whatever it takes to save my heart from breaking again. Scars are forever. But that doesn’t HAVE to be a bad thing.
Hiding from that fear and not being true to yourself or the world is like being in your own personal prison. Think about how amazing it would feel to just be yourself, every day. If you’re feeling insecure, so what? If you’re feeling hormonal, that’s OK! It would feel awesome to be free from the chains of judgment. It would be life changing to love someone so hard and know that you MIGHT get hurt, but still take that chance. It would be wonderful to be who we truly are, without apology.
We want to maintain control. Being vulnerable means letting go of that control, and that’s a very hard thing to do. We want control of our feelings and what happens to us and how we react to each situation. We want control of everything. Our fear of getting hurt or losing control is taking over our lives! We deserve to be free! We put on a façade every day to convince people that we are a certain way, when in fact, we’re nothing like that!
A friend of mine introduced me to some videos and books by Brene’ Brown. If you haven’t heard of her, I highly recommend her books or even checking out her website. She says things like “Be Brave, Love Hard” and “The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect”. THAT is how I want to live my life. I want to be allowed to be my most authentic self without worrying about how I fit in with everyone else. I want to love hard without fear of what may or may not happen. I want to reveal my true self to someone despite my fear of rejection.
I have learned that being vulnerable does not make you weak. That is a common misconception. If we are afraid of who we are underneath it all, or revealing that to someone else, we must be weak. In fact, the opposite is true. It takes real strength to be yourself. There is power in being authentic. I, personally, admire people who are real. Most of us can tell when someone is being fake. I truly respect those that are unashamed and unapologetically themselves.
If we are able to let our guards down, and be seen for who we are; if we can just stop worrying about the judgment from others; if we can let our hearts be wide open, think about what that would do to our relationships. I know I would feel very connected to my significant other if we both felt free to be exactly who we are. It would be like saying “I’m afraid, you’re afraid, let’s be afraid together”. I would feel closer to anyone who reveals their true self to me. And by revealing my true self, I know that I would be free from these chains.
As I get older, I reflect on how much pretending I have done. I wonder how different my life would be if I had always been brave enough to show the world the real me. I think about how many heart aches I would have been spared if I just would have loved myself enough to be true to myself. And what could possibly be more fulfilling than being loved just as you are?
A big step for me was starting my blog. I decided to put it all out there. All of the ugliness and darkness and all of the good stuff too! This is me. Take it or leave it, right? I can honestly say I’ve never felt so free. So take risks. Fall in love hard. Feel what you feel and be yourself. Be brave. Be authentic.
The freedom is so worth it.
“Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.” – Brene’ Brown