I’ve sat in a lot of circles this year; hands at my heart, eyes gently closed, feet pressing upon a hardwood floor. We always start off as strangers who come together in vulnerability, and end up as friends.
Last weekend I recognized that somewhere along the way, we’ve learned that it’s dangerous to be vulnerable, that we shouldn’t risk being seen. Our voices have been quieted in many ways throughout our lives, and somewhere, we’ve learned to keep our pains silent and to suffer quietly in the secrecy of our hearts. We’ve internalized messages that we are supposed to show up as nicely wrapped packages, organized, happy, and unflawed. We believe we’re supposed to experience life so effortlessly that we feel discouraged when things get hard.
We might have lived lifetimes of saying we are fine when actually, we feel lonely. When we are actually scared, deeply unhappy, tired, anxious, or hurt. We mask ourselves in busy-ness, numbing, perfectionism, over/under-eating, alcohol, and drugs. And we wear cloaks of perfection or indifference to replace our deep rooted fears of being negatively judged, falling short, or feeling inadequate. We harm ourselves through the voice of our inner critic or avoid trying because of the risk of failure. We might resist vulnerability out of fear of what would happen if we opened up.
And while vulnerability can mean many things for different people, for me, it is about uncertainty, risk, and exposing the truest parts of ourselves. Vulnerability is about our ability to sit with discomfort, name it, and grow in it. It’s about being seen for who we are, especially when it’s hard and when we feel like we are crumbling; especially when it feels like no one could understand. And I believe this matters because when we close ourselves off to this emotional risk, we start to feel alone. We feel like something is wrong with us; we feel inadequate, broken, disconnected, and not enough.
I think that if you sit on the floor with someone and listen as they talk about what they most fear, how badly it hurt to lose someone they loved, and how difficult it can be to live in their body and mind; we would begin to realize we are all the same. We hurt in the same ways and seek the same sense of connection, approval, and belonging from others; the similarities in our hearts are greater than the differences that divide us. And the more people I sit with, the more I realize that the cracks in our hearts are the areas in which we can allow more love in.
This is your gentle reminder that we don’t have to do any of this alone; that we all have a need to feel connected to and nurtured by others. And what I know is that our relationships and connections to one another help us to stay anchored to the shore when the waves are raging inside and trying to tear us away. I invite you to give yourself permission to be messy, to be a work of art, to change your mind, and to speak your heart. I encourage you to make mistakes and learn from them. To rest when things get hard. And please know that you can speak your truth and still be scared. You can feel alone and not know what to do with it; you can be sad and tired, and still okay. You can be not okay while still holding on. I invite you to open up to how you feel and honor who you are; mistakes, unknowns, insecurities and all.
and if there is no one in your circle yet, I would be happy to sit there with you.
we can start off as strangers and end up as friends.