PAST AND PRESENT THOUGHTS ON FEAR, HONESTY, VULNERABILITY & MINDFULNESS
There is a place that I live in that is cold and dark and lonely. It crushes me and leaves me disabled. It suffocates my dreams and ideas. It kills my ambition and affection. It torments me and holds me down. I can't breathe there. I can't see there. I can't move there.This place has a name. A name you know. A name you hate. A name you love. This place is called fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being enough. Fear of losing. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of not being loved. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of not doing anything that matters.
I am afraid to be me. Pure. Uninhibited. No restrictions. No apologies. Just me.
This fear that I feel makes me someone else. Some version of myself that doesn't quite measure up to my own standards. This half-me looks like me and sounds like me but never expresses my real thoughts. This half-me can't fully embrace anyone else. She can't offer a loving word or a tender touch. She is not understanding or forgiving. She cannot create anything worth sharing. She cannot conquer the world. Most days She cannot even get out of bed. She says things that I never even thought. She does things that embarrass me. She hides from love and acceptance. She questions affection and attention. No one is honest. Everyone wants something. She is not me, but...I am her.
She is a part of me that I wish didn't exist. I wish, oh how I wish I could be brave. Courageous. Strong. Diligent. Caring. Forgiving. Kind. Affectionate. Peaceful.
And I am those things, I am, but she tells me that I'm not. She tells me that if I were to say what I really thought or do the things I really wanted to do, I would be rejected. People would laugh. They would walk away- no, run away.
That fear, that half-me person that lives within me, I don't want to put up with her anymore. She is not welcome here. Fear settled around me and swallowed me whole and I let it. It was assisted by words and actions from friends and strangers. Things that cut me down little by little over time until I was smaller than I had ever thought possible. Those words and actions will likely never stop, I can't control that, but I can control how I react to them. Or rather, I can retrain my mind and heart to decipher what is good from what is of no use to me. If it isn't going to help me be better, it is useless.
Fear, do you hear me? you are not welcome here anymore.
Yes, you may sneak in from time to time but please, hear me and know how serious I am, I will chase you away every time. You are not welcome here anymore. You are of no use to me. You are useless. Please, see yourself out. Better yet, I'll see you out. Again and again and again. Every day for the rest of my life.
I know I wont always win this fight on my own. That's whats beautiful though. I'm not alone.
I'm not alone.
I'm not alone.
I'm not alone.
NEITHER ARE YOU.
All of that is from a post I wrote for This Is Not That almost two years ago. Reading it now, parts of it make me cringe a little. Not because I now feel like it's silly or dramatic but because it's still so real and raw that it makes me uncomfortable to have shared it... but again, this is the kind of thing I think the world needs more of. More honesty. More of what's real. More of what is tender. More things that shout, "I'm human too! I feel the same things you feel! I'm just as afraid as you are! And I'm also just as strong as you are." I wish I could keep that desire to share alive all the time. It's kind of like a fire- sometimes I feel like tending to it and helping it grow stronger and sometimes I just let it die. Sometimes I even throw water on it in an effort to quickly put it out. Sometimes I want nothing to do with being vulnerable and honest. All I can do is hope that I'll keep coming around to the fire and helping it grow. I can work toward building up my mind and body so that I'm strong enough to fan the flames and be in a place where I can invite people to come and sit around the fire with me...but, what does that look like? What can I really do to build up my mind and body? What does that even mean?
For me, I think it means these things...
- watching less mindless TV and seeking out more documentaries + meaningful films + video interviews that encourage bravery and honesty
- reading more books that are intentional in teaching about being vulnerable, real, and honesty
- committing to exercising regularly
- eating foods that fuel my body instead of just fill it
- making time to reflect on things and inspect my mind and heart
- being more intentional with my friendships
- finding ways to increase the communication and honesty in my relationship
All of those things can be summed up into one word: mindfulness.
That is what I need more of. I need it in every area of my life. Thinking about mindfulness makes me think of this quote from Oscar Wilde, "to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist." // I don't want to just exist. Do any of us want to just exist? I don't think so. But so many of us do...why? Maybe it's because we don't really know the difference between living and existing. Maybe it's because we know the difference but we don't know how to transition from existing to living. Maybe we know how to transition but we don't want to put forth the effort. Ah, yes, that's it, isn't it? For most of us it just seems too hard. Maybe right now you're getting upset with me for putting words in your mouth and thoughts in your head. Ok, I hear you, if that's how you're feeling then tell me, what is it for you? Are you living or are you just existing? If you're living, how did you get there? If you're just existing, are you happy there?
I'm not you. I don't know your life. I only know mine and I know that I've pretty much just been existing and I want to be living more. One way I'm going to try to start living is by incorporating more mindfulness into my life. I'm going to do that in all of the ways I mentioned above. I'm striving for progress, not perfection. I'm striving for a life of more honesty and vulnerability. I'm striving for more real connections. I'm striving for more bravery.
What are you striving for?