I recently read an article on here titled, “To The Person Who Won’t Open Up,” and it especially touched me because I recently went through a situation where my difficult opening up was the reason that something that I wanted to happen, didn’t happen.
So, I wanted to respond to that. To all the people who have difficulty with opening up, to an extent, I understand. I understand what it’s like to want to hide a part of who you are, to want to lock the key into your heart, into who you are, and throw it into the deepest depths of the ocean, never to be found again. I understand what it’s like to carefully construct your words so that nobody gets to close. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.” I know what it’s like to want to be close to people only to push them away out of fear that they will get too close, know who you are, get to know the deepest parts of your heart and your identity…and then leave. So, while I may not be going through the same situation, there are parts that I understand, to an extent.
But I want to tell you that it’s okay to open up. Listen, life will hit you. Hard. Over and over again. Relentlessly. And it sucks. But don’t let that stop you from being great, standing up straight, and speaking up. Life happens, but it’s the way that you respond to these moments that will shape who you are a person. You don’t have to hide anymore. You can let someone in. And it’s terrifying to let someone in, it is. But believe me, there is strength in your vulnerability. The ability to truly let your guard down and be vulnerable makes you human. I know it’s hard, and it seems easier to just keep people always an arm’s length away, but it will only harden your heart. Believe me, I know. And I don’t mean that in the sense that you’ll turn into some Scrooge or inhuman person incapable of feeling. I just mean that it’ll make it that much harder to truly let someone in–even when you really want to. To love means to be vulnerable–it requires it. You don’t have to go through life alone. You don’t have to bear your burden alone.
And there will be people who see this as a fundamental character flaw. They will write you off as cold and guarded. People will let you down. Some of the people you choose to let in might leave. Don’t let that make you hide your beauty from the world. Because some people…some people will stay, hug you, sit with you, listen, be there for you. And those people make it worth it. Those people are filled with so much beauty and the care that they have for you will make the ones who left seem so incredibly insignificant.
For me, it was something in my past that made me close up. It made it hard for me to connect with people emotionally and truly let people in. There would be moments when my best friend would confide in me about her deepest problems and I would want so desperately to tell her about mine, but instead I would clam up, afraid that she would leave or never look at me the same.
But one day I took a chance, and I let someone in. It wasn’t someone I’d known for very long, but he mentioned it–my difficulty opening up to people emotionally and saying what I need to say, and for some reason, I let it all out and laid it on the table. To this day, I’m still not sure what motivated me to open up about my life, but to this day, I don’t regret it.
And I was terrified afterwards. I thought that was it–we’d never be friends again, there’s no way he would speak to me again. But he surprised me, he sat there and hugged me and opened up to me, and I realized that I wasn’t alone in this.
All it takes is one person.
When I think back at who I was five years ago, I can hardly recognize myself. When I read the old diary entries from that sad little girl from my past, I can’t believe I ever wrote those words. But it’s a process, and I’m still working on it. Slowly, I’m learning to let my guard down. There are moments when my past hits me in my face and I retreat into the confines of my own mind, closing up again and shutting people out. It’s not easy, and every day is its own internal battle.
I know what it’s like to keep pushing back the dark and finding strength every day to not let it consume you and dictate your identity, but you don’t have to push it back alone.
So to the people who were patient with me, thank you. For the people who sat with me as I struggled to say the words that are constantly weighing on my mind, thank you. For the people who stayed, thank you.
I’ll end this with a lyric from one of my favorite songs: “Whatever you do, just don’t look back, somebody needs the light you have. Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart. Just keep on pushing back the dark.” Somebody needs the light you have, and believe me, you have a light. Don’t let what scarred you in the past prevent you from showing the world.