I like my blog to be about positivity and finding hope in the dark places, so I don’t usually go into a lot of detail about my personal struggles. However, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of being vulnerable, especially in our social-media-saturated society. I sometimes feel like we are all wearing masks that we designed for ourselves in order to convince the world that we are something we’re not. It’s become the norm, and allowing ourselves to be transparent even to those close to us is often harder than you’d think! In light of that, I’m going for a somewhat more abstract self-care tip for the weekend: explore vulnerability. And I’m starting with me.
Okay. Deep breath.
I moved to Israel and became a citizen in August of 2017, a little less than eight months ago. This move came after having been living in Nebraska for a year and a half after my return from Korea in 2016. While I definitely enjoyed my almost three years in Korea and wouldn’t trade it for the world, I was looking for progress in my life and I’d hoped that would happen in the US. I did make the progress I was meant to make at the time, but it felt that I kept hitting brick wall after brick wall, so I decided to move to Israel and have a fresh start. I never expected this move to be easy, and I’m not afraid of change or a ton of hard work. The last eight months, though, have been so drastically different than I could have imagined them that it’s hard not to feel like an absolute failure.
My Instagram is full of cheerful pictures, and my Facebook statuses are full of jokes. On the outside, I am a Masters student with kick-ass friends who also happens to teach yoga and speak a few languages. Those things are true, and I’m very blessed to have them as a part of my foundation!
What I don’t show is that I’ve forgotten why I started my degree in the first place.
That I struggle financially every month, just to keep a bit of savings alive and have a roof over my head.
That I’ve had my heart broken beyond belief, and that my heart is aching for a partner to go through life with.
That barely anyone shows up to my yoga classes.
That my endometriosis pain is sometimes so severe I can’t stand up.
That no matter how much I enjoy taking care of other’s people children at my job, I have to push down my longing for my own child.
These are some very hard, very real things. It’s hard for me to share these things because (and I think this is probably true for a lot of us) in the age of social media, we live in a constant state of comparison. I am pummeled every day with photos and statuses and story updates from people I know, and from what I can glean from these things alone, these people have the perfect lives. So-and-so’s got a new a baby, that person got engaged, this friend just got promoted at work, and that one bought a beautiful new house. It’s hard to be constantly bombarded with this sort of thing; we start to feel like somehow we can’t measure up.
At least, I know I do.
My first reflex is to harden myself, to build walls around my own hurts and vulnerabilities so that no one on the outside will be able to tell how disappointed I am that my own relationship didn’t work out or how much I’m aching to have a family. Feigning cynicism and apathy is much easier on the ego than allowing our hurts to show.
So, I vote we challenge that.
In her book, Practicing Peace, Pema Chodron writes,
“There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky.”
What’s my fear? My fear is that others will see my hurts and longings and shortcomings and think, “Wow, she really doesn’t have herself together.” My fear is that the universe lacks enough good things for all of us and that by celebrating the successes of others, I’ll somehow ruin my own shot at accomplishing my goals. What?!
First of all, at the exact same moment that I typed those fears out, I realized how silly they are! Secondly, the amount of relief I felt in looking the fear head on and touching the soft spot behind it by being completely transparent about my struggles is absolutely incredible. I feel a bit like I’ve been running from something for a long ass time and just finally stopped, and now the thing I was running from isn’t nearly as scary as I thought. It’s like a burden just dissolved into thin air!
My problems aren’t solved, of course. I don’t suddenly have a baby, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do about my financial woes. But, if I can remain vulnerable and soft to the world, I think it’s going to make all the difference. I’m not saying you have to go blast your problems on Facebook (actually, that’s probably not the best idea), but challenge yourself this weekend to look deeply into your fear and confront it head-on. Think about what it might mean for you to become a little softer, a little more authentic, and a little more transparent.
I’m leaving this one open-ended for you because I think that allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is going to take on a completely different form for each person. That being said, I would love to hear about what steps you all decide to take in getting there. If you feel comfortable, leave comments for us! Or, if you’d prefer, you can always message me privately here or via Instagram or Facebook.
Go find your soft spot. 🙂