Being a guarded person, sharing personal things about my life has been very stressful. I’m stopped by the tightness in my throat, the butterflies in my stomach, the racing heart, the flushed cheeks. The sympathetic neuron firing leads my body to its “fight-or-flight” mode, and for me, I have always chosen flight. I run from opening up to other people. I hide from conflict. I avoid questioning.
In today’s society, I am far from being alone in this notion. The age of social media has allowed the creation a space between individuals and the rest of the world, a freedom to portray idealized views of ourselves on a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter profile. Texting gives us time to compose our thoughts. We analyze and reanalyze and overanalyze every sentence and word and character until there is more conspiracy than meaning behind every message.
We hide our heads and our hearts out of an intense fear of failure and rejection. If we never show anyone our true selves, then we can never really be truly rebuffed by society or our friends or our families or our crushes or the loves of our lives. With our lives captured forever online, every defeat and embarrassment is publicized for everyone we know to see. It is cooler to act like you don’t care, to not try, but that feeling is a lie. Every cliché is right—try and fail until you succeed, and then don’t just display your masterpiece. Show off your isolations, your process shots, your eraser marks, and even your crumpled up, scribbled out failures in the trashcan.
It is that vulnerability that makes me fearful. I have learned that while I share this aversion to exposing my heart, it actually does not suit me. I have a need for love and acceptance that I deny myself each time I close myself off. Needing something else or someone else always makes me feel exposed for admitting dependence outside of myself. Obtaining something else or someone else always makes me feel afraid of losing what is outside of my control.
Fear is not an excuse I accept any longer. I refuse to limit myself from the love I deserve to give myself and to accept from others. I am not perfect, and that is okay. More than okay, I love my imperfections for introducing me to the person I am today. I enjoy my life of bumps and bruises. I like having embarrassing stories to tell. I dig people who, likewise, are fearless and open-hearted, because that is true perfection.