There’s another term (hence the post title) that speaks to this…
Not sure why I haven’t written in a few weeks, but this quote (and reading about) vulnerability and joy made me think about how challenging I find being vulnerable, and finding (and showing) joy. I’ve been reading Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, and finding that it really resonates with me quite a bit at this time in my life. But one thing – that perhaps wasn’t the intended outcome, but was the one that I had! – was that I realized I have not laughed out loud in a very, very long time. This realization came after reading in the book, then thinking about our planned trip to see my family for the holidays. The last time we were there, and had a lunch with a group of old, old friends, I was struck by how easily, loudly, and wonderfully they laughed. The lunch table was rocking with laughter – and I was sitting there with a kind of grimace on my face, smiling, and uttering small bursts of laughter. But nothing like the full-on belly laughs that others were sharing, and nothing sounding as joyful as that laughter, in those moments, sounded.
I also have realized how challenging it is for me – as it is for so many others – to be vulnerable. I have put up armor. I have done this throughout my life. I have hidden behind the shields that – if I’m honest – really started going up in middle school. Insecurity and uncertainty are challenging at any age; when you’re a physically unattractive and underdeveloped 12 year old, who also happens to be a complete nerd, well, it doesn’t take too much to make the leap that those experiences shaped how I show who I am to the world. Finding a place in academia for my professional life has been a huge, huge, benefit to me. Where else can I be paid to be a nerd, to try to answer questions, to seek knowledge? I can read research and “nerd out” all day, to my heart’s content, and no one questions it. But now that I have found my professional home, and am better about being vulnerable within that, how do I translate that to my home / personal life? How do I (re) learn to be vulnerable with the people I love? How do I learn to trust that they will hold and support me and that they want to know the real me?
Because as much as this journey is about finding me, about learning who I really am at my core, it’s also about sharing that with others. To live truly and fully – to come to a place where I can and will laugh out loud until my face hurts and I can’t breathe – I have to learn to be vulnerable, to share the soft and easily wounded spots of my very being with those with whom I interact. And that is still hard. I have tried in the past – then pulled back from those relationships when I felt threatened. How can I trust that others will be compassionate to me (as I hope I am to them)? How can I learn to just let go and be me in all aspects of my life? How can I make the parts integrate into a coherent whole, to be truly me all day, every day? I joke that I “own my weirdness” now, but the truth is, I’m just now doing that for myself.
It’s time to break out and do that with others, too. Scary, but necessary. Taking the first steps? Not sure what those will be… but it’s time to figure it out.
If she got really quiet and listened, new parts of her wanted to speak. ~Sark
I am trying so hard to be quiet and listen to myself this season. Autumn is a time for slowing down, for reflection, less for doing and more for just being. As I seek a better understanding of who I used to be – who I want to be now – and who I want to become – I feel as though the season reflects my mood.
Lots of thinking and reflecting and remembering…when am I most myself? When have I been most joyful, alive… when have I forgotten time? Perhaps it’s not that new parts of me want to speak, but rather, parts of me that have been silenced for too long.
I long for adventure, and new experiences, but ones that I want to pursue. I want to take a solo road trip. I want to explore this area of the country, this part of the world that feels more like home to me than the place where I grew up ever did.
As I settle into my new job, as I figure out who I am and who I want to be in this season of life, how do I honor who I have been for the last 10 or so years, without losing sight of what I want to gain back from who I was before? I don’t want to ditch everything I’ve been so completely; there are certainly things about myself now that I think I like. I love my job… I love that I get to do what I do on a daily basis. I love where I live, and how determined and persistent I have been. I have goals – and I want to maintain those. But I want to get parts of me back that have been silenced for too long. I want to regain my independence, my sense of adventure, my yearning to learn new things, see new places, and find adventures that speak to me.
The hard part is that, while my husband does just fine with this, pursuing his own interests and ensuring that he has “him-time” to do so… I have not. I need to own this, to admit that I need this in my life – that I need to do this for me, and by myself. That this is not a joint pursuit, but is necessary to me not losing my self in the me I have become. Because I think for too long, as I have changed, grown, and evolved, I have tamped down the elements that make me, me. The pieces of me that are unique, and special, and that I really liked about me. And I have turned instead to those things that others choose for me. Why should I be limited by others’ ideas and preferences? I have room in my life to bring more of me back into it. This passive deferral to others is not me – it’s not who I ever was. I have been independent, and freethinking, since I can remember. I have rejected others’ ideas of who I should be, what I should do, and where I should live. I have owned those choices and they have been the best for me.
And yet I’ve lost that in the last few years. Probably – again – since my arm surgery (good grief, nearly 6 years ago now) and have taken the less-intense route of follow others’ wants and dreams and ideas.
It is time to dream again, to seek adventure again, to live again.