In class the other day, we were asked to work on 'vulnerability' ahhhhh vulnerability, fabulous. *insert straight face emoticon here.
I began to fret, my palms went clammy, my armpits started sweating profusely and as I watched other people in class go up, and 'be vulnerable' I panicked. I had no heart. I was emotionless. No tears came, I just sat and watched, numb and empty. My brain fogged over. Who could I sit and talk to and be honest with and what could I get vulnerable about? Because that was all he was asking us to do. Substitute a person from class, for someone you want to talk to and be honest with, and let yourself get vulnerable.
OK so here is the deal... In 'real life' 'real time' I get vulnerable over a jelly bean, I can cry because the guy serving me coffee was mean, or because my pink socks turned my grey undies even greyer. I cry when my boyfriend eats the last of my crisps or when there is a dog that looks sad sitting outside of the super market... and I was under the impression I couldn't substitute one of the class members for a dog. I'm emotional, I am vulnerable. I wear my heart on my sleeve and feel fragile at the best of times. What was even more frustrating was I am hormonal (its that time of the month) yet I couldn't shed a sad tear or connect with what people were saying. Because my brain was to busy going 1000 miles per hour dealing with all my thoughts.
I sat for at least two hours wondering who I could talk to... My Dad? Daddy issues? Nope that didn't feel right, I couldn't connect with that. My ex who cheated on me? Nope, Over it. My mum, talk to my mum about my worry and concern for her happiness? That felt better, that felt right, but going over the things I would say just didn't make me feel sad. There was concern, and of course some vulnerability, but it was like I was made of led.
I know what makes me sad deep deep down. I know what frustrates me, upsets me and what makes me feel screaming and throwing a tantrum.
I couldn't possibly talk to myself could I? Wouldnt everyone think I was narcissistic? What was crazy was, I was sitting there feeling everything the teacher was asking us to feel. I had felt vulnerable from the second I had walked into class. Vulnerability runs through my veins. What stops it from pouring all over the floor, what holds the vulnerability in? For me, I guess it is trust, or lack of. With my mum or my closest friends I feel no ways about saying 'I feel lost' or 'I feel dislikeable' I delve into those feelings head first and verbally projectile vomit them all over the place. But to admit to a room full or pears, people who you think, want you to be confident and self assured. People who you are sure will judge you for your needyness to be liked, or to impress. Because we all know its not cool to care if people like you right? We are meant to be these humans with assurance up to our eyeballs. (not too much or that is threatening) but just enough for people to 'not' think that you NEED friends or NEED to be accepted. Needyness is repelling. I know this. I feel it, breathe it and lecture that shiz all day everyday... but deep down, all I kept thinking through the whole of class is...
'I hope these people don't think I am pretentious' 'I hope they don't think I am boring' 'I hope they don't judge me and want me to fail' 'I hope they don't sit there praying they don't get put in my group' 'I hope they think I deserve to be there as much as them'
and whilst I am sitting there feeling vulnerable, trying to somehow find vulnerability and not knowing where to look, I am torn between who I am and who I want to be, against who I am not, and who I want people to think I am... and in all of that I know this is all insanity.
I have read many a self help book. I get what they say about, being in the moment, being present, not needing peoples validation. I hear Echart Tolle and Marianne Williamson loud and clear. I preach this stuff all day long. Because I know its true. I know the essence of who I am, and being 'me' is all I can be. The answer is truly in being comfortable with who you are, and deep down, I believe that accepting who I am, and being OK with that, is what people will ultimately like. I like people who are open and real. Its people that do the most covering up that I cant hack, despite having compassion and knowing where the ego crap comes from, because I have those insecurities too.
I came out to LA feeling rather confident in who I am. I have done a lot of soul searching over the last few years. I know peoples validation means nothing, I know that I don't need anyone's approval, I know that not everyone will like me, and often I know that will be because of an insecurity in them and not a default in me. I know that when I don't like someone it is usually best to look at myself and see what it is in me that I see in them. I know that only the universe (substitute with God or Love or another universal word for something so great you cannot define) knows the truth. And at the end of the day that is all that matters. I know that not everyone will think I am a good actress, or that I am funny, or interesting and that it is all subjective and as I approach thirty I felt like I was finally coming to terms with that...
Then you get on a plane and fly for 11 hours, move into a place with strangers, spend time with a best friend completely out of context to your relationship and are thrown by how different you actually are, and with those differences come uncertainty, you get given a manual car (when you wanted an automatic) drive for hours on the other side of the road, have you Sat Nav break and your phone die, you get lost and you join a class of strangers who all seem so intimidatingly good, and close and like family and you join the group and you go on stage and you cant seem to show case your personality because you have your guard up, a sensor on.
Dont show them who you really are in case they dont like that version.
instead you show them a mediocre, safe version of yourself and you step off stage and kick yourself as you go through all the things you could have said, should have said and you pray that next time you go up you will be 'you' and all of that soul searching and all of those books full of wisdom disappear and you become that effing 14 year old again.
You sit between this conundrum of knowing what makes sense, knowing who you are, being proud of who you have grown up to be. Your happy as larry at the self discovery and the courage you have had to come out and try new things. You are ecstatic to be included in such a group of talent and proud to be involved...
Against the extremity of feeling increasingly not good enough to be in class, to be in LA, to be chasing such a career. And then the knowing that all of that fear is just my Ego playing games with me. My Ego trying to make me believe those thoughts. Because I know I am enough. Wholeheartedly. Brene Brown would say. The aim is to lie in bed and say
yes I am imperfect and afraid, but that doesn't change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.
So how do you fight these demons? The ones that eat you up and make you think your crazy. The ones that make you talk way too much, divulge too much or say nothing at all, sit there quietly just smiling at everyone. The ones that make you ingratiate and eager to please or the ones that make you act all care free and nonchalant. The ones that make you stay seated and not to go up and perform 'vulnerability'
The only answer I think I have discovered is to be aware of those dark places and you call them out, you diminish the very thing your scared of. How can your Ego win if you accept it. What power does it have if you see it and you do your thing anyway?
All that kept me from going up was the voices that said, 'your not emotional enough, your not connected enough, your not free enough, your not nice enough, your not trained enough or smart enough or honest enough. Your not enough. And all I was asked to do was go up and share that. Share what I felt I was lacking. Love for myself. As our teacher said, all vulnerability is, is Love. It stems from love. And ultimately my biggest fear was that I didn't love myself enough to bare my soul to an audience of strangers who had bared their soul to me.
So next weeks class is going to be the time I don't let my Ego get the better of me. The time I stop worrying about what other people think and trusting that just being open and honest is good enough.
Brene Brown says to
... and that is what I shall do. Eeeeeek!