The ability to feel connected is coded in us on a neurological level. It’s what gives us purpose, meaning and ultimately the reason why we’re all here.
Knowing this you’d think that the world would be full of free, open, and fearless individuals. That there would be endless trust, never ending love, no such thing as a person that guards their feelings or emotions, and most certainly no self doubt.
Sound like your reality?
It wasn’t until I was a couple weeks into my trip to India that I began to understand the importance of connecting with the people and experiences in my life. In the past, I’d seen myself push away friends, reject experiences, and catastrophize my feelings to the point where it was easier for me to just live life alone. It meant I didn’t need to rely on anyone by myself, I didn’t need to feel disappointed, and I surely wouldn’t get hurt. As a result, I kept myself at a distance from everything and everyone.
When I began to explore this, I quickly learned that I was absolutely terrified to make real connections. I harbored feelings of disappointment, shame, rejection, and the mere thought of opening myself up to others was downright crippling.
At home, I was often scared to say hello to people in fear that they wouldn’t recognize me or that I wouldn’t have anything valuable to say. I was hesitant to speak what was on my mind in fear that I wouldn’t be able to defend myself if people began questioning me. I became scared to show my true self partly because I wasn’t confident that people would like what they saw and because doing this meant I had to trust someone and accept that I may get hurt.
So instead, I drowned myself in distractions, I spent money on things I didn’t need, I spent my time doing things that I didn’t necessarily enjoy, I put my energy into things that meant little to me and in doing this, I lost sight of my purpose and meaning… which in turn made me feel vulnerable and ever more scared. So I added more distractions, I spent more money on things that I didn’t need, I wasted more of my time, and wouldn’t you know it? I lost even more of myself, felt vulnerable, and began the cycle all over again.
This; unknowingly at the time, was why I went to India and why I was so sure that when I returned I would know exactly who I was and how I was going to stop this cycle. I wanted to learn how to live for myself.
But to fully embrace this, I had to…
feel worthy of everything.
be willing to let go of who I thought I should be.
live and accept my truth.
feel like I belonged to something.
believe that I’m good… enough.
find the courage to live from my heart.
trust my intuition.
embrace my imperfections.
be compassionate and kind to myself.
be authentic, and raw.
surrender to it all.
And most of all, I had to understand that in order for a connection to happen, I had to allow myself those experiences.I had to accept that there was no guarantee I wouldn’t get hurt, that people weren’t going to disappoint me, or even be nice to me.
But you know what? As soon as I surrendered, as soon as I said hi to everyone, helped people without expecting anything in return, spoke my truth, lived from my heart, and freed myself, the compassion and respect I had for myself increased tenfold.
All the things I knew I had to do in order to live vulnerably came naturally.
I’d leaped, I’d surrendered and I’d learned that, I am worthy, I am good enough, I am imperfect…
and it felt awesome.
I was able to practice gratitude and joy for the positive and negative experiences I had with people. I understood that the only way I was ever going to get to know myself better, to feel whole, and loved, was to become vulnerable. I realized that I needed to build connections with others and jump unknowingly into friendships and experiences with the understanding that even if they were short-lived; the time we would spend together wouldn’t be a waste because I would have learned something along the way and it didn’t mean I was a bad or ugly person. Life goes on, experiences go on, and I owe it to myself to continue to grow with them.
This has seriously changed my life and allowed me to make connections I never would have in the past, including the three very strong relationships I made in India that I’m certain I will carry with me forever. On our last day together in Varkala, I wrote the following in my journal about each of them to remind me of just how lucky I was to get to know them; and how proud I was in myself for surrendering to it all,
Not once have I ever considered that being with others; from different walks of life with different experiences, could help me to get to know myself. I never in a million years would have opened up to people as I did to them. But I did and it felt good. I’ve learned more about myself than I ever have before – the world, morals, religion, and how to just be a good, open friend.
Scott – has helped me to find joy in sharing my passion with others. I’ve learned that it is perfectly fine to speak your mind and have no idea what you’re saying, that you can express yourself, share who you are, and trust that it just feels good to share even when you know that not everyone is going to like what you’re saying. I fave him some of my hemp hearts; which I’d generally never do just because I like them so much, and was amazed at how much joy it brought him. When he’d told me he’d shared them with other Canadians that missed home just as much as he did it made me realize just how selfless he is and how selfless I could be. No matter how little I have, it’s always nice to share with others.
Jody – helped me to see that I need to believe in myself constantly, trust my instincts, connect with things regardless of my fears and check in with myself so I can get the most out of life. It’s okay to jump without thinking when you trust your intuition is the thing guiding you. Friends are like family, everyone gets lost at one point or another, and it’s okay to want to be a separate person from your spouse. That the strongest of relationships are those that are formed by two individuals.
Lina – taught me that there’s no such thing as introducing yourself to too many people, eating too many hard candies, laughing too much, or giving to those in need. It’s empowering to find issues to believe in that we feel would make a difference in our world, even if we’re only one person. You need to follow your heart; no matter how scary, you don’t have to have a home, or a plan, just a passion for life, and belief in yourself.
When I came home I decided that I would continue to be vulnerable and allow people into my life with an open my heart, and accept that whatever they provided me with would be exactly what I needed at that moment.
So far so good! And man, is life more beautiful this way.
Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable? What sorts of things do you do to drown yourself when you’re scared?