If you couldn’t already tell (*gestures around at the blog*), I’m not a particularly private person. I’ve written about my insecurities, my identity crises, my heartbreaks, and much more on the internet. These most raw pieces of myself are out there, for everyone and anyone to consume and judge as they please. My habit of oversharing crosses into my personal life, too. Friends and family have gotten used to seeing the darkest corners of my inner life, the basements and closets that most people keep locked shut. I call it a habit, because it’s not always conscious or intentional. It’s like the filter that should sit at the base of my throat, separating private from public, is missing.
Despite my candor, I still feel exposed when I share my most sensitive thoughts and feelings with someone else. I still feel that fear that I’ve said too much, that I’ve burdened others with my emotions, that I’ve revealed an ugliness that’ll make me less likable or lovable. (This is what research professor Brené Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover.”)
Sometimes, I wonder if my openness cheapens or downplays my vulnerability. Brown posits that not everyone we encounter deserves to bear witness to our stories:
Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?”Brené Brown
For the most part, I agree that you can’t trust everyone, and that trust must be earned. I’ve received my fair share of disappointing responses from the people that I’ve confided in. That said, I think some folks take self-protection to the extreme, using it as justification for building a wall between themselves and the world. They think, now you can’t hurt me, as if strength is the absence of vulnerability. I believe all this hiding from others—from hurt, from criticism—may eventually lead us to hide from ourselves, until we no longer feel connected to our own stories, to the experiences that have made us who we are. While we don’t owe anyone our vulnerability, we owe it to ourselves to accept our humanity, even the parts that ignite shame, fear, and doubt.
If we expect open-mindedness and acceptance from others, perhaps we need to look inward and take note of our own judgments. We can’t always know whether someone “deserves” to hear our stories before giving them the opportunity to do so. Vulnerability requires a leap of faith. To share our truth with the world, we must trust in the goodness of others—and, more importantly, our ability to persevere regardless of anyone else’s opinions. To me, THAT is a demonstration of strength.
I may overshare here and there. But I will continue to pour my heart out into the open, because that is my truest mode of being. Life is too short to spend it in hiding.